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Canadian election could change future of ‘gay marriage’

OTTAWA (BP)–The future of same-sex “marriage” in Canada could hinge on the outcome of a national election Monday in which all 308 members of Parliament face the voters.

The election in Canada’s multi-party system has given social conservatives hope, especially since the leader of the newly formed Conservative Party -– which in polls is running neck-and-neck for the lead with the incumbent Liberal Party -– opposes same-sex “marriage.” Although courts in three provinces have legalized same-sex “marriage,” a conservative Parliament could refuse to recognize those rulings.

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said the June 28 election will have a “very significant” impact on the same-sex “marriage” issue.

“This, in my opinion … is the most crucial election that I have seen in Canada in my 55 years living year,” he told Baptist Press in a telephone interphone from Calgary, Alberta.

The Canadian election is significant to both the worldwide and American debate over same-sex “marriage.” Last year courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec issued rulings legalizing same-sex “marriage,” sparking what some in America called the “gay summer.”

Shortly after Ontario’s court issued its groundbreaking ruling -– making it the first province with same-sex “marriage” — the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning anti-sodomy laws. Several months later, Massachusetts’ high court released its ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage.”

The impact of the Ontario court’s ruling was felt in the United States when the Massachusetts court referenced the Ontario ruling, saying it “concur[ed]” with the Canadian court’s “remedy.”

Pro-family groups in Canada hope that the momentum swings their way Monday.

In Canadian politics, a party must win at least 155 of the 308 seats in Parliament to form a majority government, which the Liberal Party currently has. The leader of the majority government –- who is elected as a member of Parliament — becomes the prime minister.

Most polls, though, project that none of the five parties will win enough seats to form a majority government, forcing a minority government made up of a coalition of two or more parties. Either way, social conservatives are hoping that enough Conservative members of Parliament (MPs) are elected to affect the marriage debate.

“If we get a Liberal government, then clearly we are going to likely have gay marriage imposed upon on us –- both through the Liberal government and through our Supreme Court -– because they’re working hand-in-hand on this,” Rushfeldt said.

As it stands now, the vote in Parliament regarding the marriage issue appears to be tight. Last year a non-binding motion defending the traditional definition of marriage was defeated narrowly, 137-132. In that vote some 50 members of the Liberal Party broke ranks and voted for the motion. Approximately 30 MPs did not vote.

The resolution stated in part that “marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” and that Parliament should “take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.”

It is unclear whether the MPs who voted for the resolution would also vote to ban same-sex “marriage.” Nevertheless, the vote showed how far homosexual activists had advanced their cause: In 1999 a virtually identical resolution passed Parliament, 216-55. Polls show that Canadians are split 50-50 on the issue of same-sex “marriage.”

Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Liberal Party leader, backs legalized same-sex “marriage,” while Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper opposes it.

The Conservative Party was formed last year in a forging of the former Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives. Although every member of the Conservative Party isn’t a social conservative, it has more social conservatives than the Liberal Party.

A statement on the Conservative Party’s website reads: “The Conservative Party will fight to give a greater voice to Parliament. We will ensure that issues like marriage are decided by parliament, not the courts.”

Martin and Harper are on opposite sides of other issues, too. Martin voted for a controversial bill this year that added “sexual orientation” to the hate speech law, while Harper voted against it.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust