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Canadian lawmakers counter court’s spousal-benefits ruling

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada (BP)–A vote by Canada’s House of Commons affirmed marriage June 8 as a union only between one man and one woman.
The vote was widely seen as a reaction to a May 20 Canadian Supreme Court decision that ruled the definition of “spouse” in the Ontario Family Law Act was unconstitutional.
House members voted 216-55 in favor of a traditional view of marriage. The motion was made by the conservative Reform party and was backed by the ruling Liberal government.
“No jurisdiction worldwide defines a legal marriage as existing between same-sex partners,” said Canada’s justice minister, Anne McLellan, in explaining her reason for voting for traditional marriage. She was quoted in an Internet news source, Religion Today, which appears on goshen.net’s website.
Don Campbell, city editor for the Calgary (Alberta) Herald, explained to Baptist Press the confluence of the two decisions.
“The Supreme Court decision applies to existing legislation on spousal benefits,” Campbell said. “The motion in the House of Commons is a policy statement and definition of the term ‘marriage.’
“The Canadian Supreme Court decision allows for same-sex partners to receive benefits such as pensions and alimony that traditionally have been limited to married couples,” Campbell said. “But the government of Canada is not going to call that relationship a same-sex marriage.”
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court decision is one more step toward legal acceptance of an alternative lifestyle, Christian leaders warn.
By its 8-1 vote, the Canadian Supreme Court’s landmark ruling effectively changed the meaning of “spouse” to include homosexual partners. It challenges the biblical definition of a marriage and could lead to the rewriting of hundreds of Canadian laws, giving same-sex couples all the legal benefits of a common-law marriage.
“This recognition [of same-sex partners as spouses] is just one more cog in the machine that seems bent on destroying the definition of the traditional family,” lamented Gerry Taillon, executive director of the 8,700-member Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists.
“At every avenue, tolerance has increased at a cost of the fundamental values that society needs,” Taillon said. “The attitude in Canada is that we will tolerate anything. At this point, the attack is on the foundational unit of society — the family.”
In its ruling, the court struck down Ontario’s Family Law Act, calling it unconstitutional because it denies homosexuals the right to apply for alimony from each other. But legal experts say the ruling, while stopping short of recognizing same-sex unions as marriages, will force changes in federal and provincial laws which contain hundreds of references to spouses, ranging from marriage and adoption of children to pensions and taxes.
Denying homosexual couples the same legal rights as heterosexuals is an affront to “human dignity” and sends a misguided message that homosexual relationships don’t deserve respect, the high court stated.

Don Hinkle contributed to this article.