OTTAWA (BP)–After months of contentious debate, the Canadian House of Commons voted June 28 to approve “same-sex marriage” nationwide.
The 158-to-133 vote moves the bill legalizing “gay marriage” to the Canadian Senate, where it almost certainly will be approved within weeks and subsequently become law, moving Canada alongside Belgium and the Netherlands as the only three countries to legalize the practice nationwide. Spain is expected to join their ranks later this summer.
In the wake of Parliament’s action, Canadian Christians insist that the battle over “gay marriage” is not over and vow to wage an aggressive campaign to see the issue revisited in the future.
“It’s not over,” Anna Marie White, director of communications for Focus on the Family Canada, told Baptist Press. “We move forward from here. And more than ever, the results of last night’s vote provide a renewed impetus for Canadians to work harder to promote the values of marriage between a man and a woman in Canadian society. We’ve got work to do.”
Of the four major political parties in the House, only one — the Conservatives — opposed the bill, which is known as C-38. A majority of members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party supported it, although 32 Liberals broke rank and opposed Prime Minister Paul Martin’s bid to pass the bill, the Toronto Star reported June 29.
White said she is optimistic that Conservatives will regain power within the next year and revisit the issue of “same-sex marriage.”
Conservative leader Stephen Harper said his party will test the “gay marriage” law in Parliament again if he gains power in the next election, according to the Star. “There will be a chance to revisit this in a future Parliament,” Harper said. “Our intention is to have a free vote.”
White said she is encouraged by the “principled leadership” of some politicians and hopes such politicians eventually will pass legislation protecting traditional marriage.
Among Liberals to oppose the bill was cabinet member Joe Comuzzi, who resigned his cabinet post in order to break ranks with the prime minister on the issue.
Two years ago, the Liberal government opposed same-sex “marriage” in courts across the nation, according to The Canadian Press. But it changed its position when courts in eight provinces and one territory ruled that traditional marriage laws violated the guarantee of equality for all Canadians.
Only the jurisdictions of Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories had not legalized “gay marriage” prior to Parliament’s action.
“We are a nation of minorities,” Martin said before the vote. “And in a nation of minorities, it is important that you don’t cherry-pick rights. A right is a right and that is what this vote tonight is all about.”
The House immediately adjourned for the summer after the vote, ending a legislative session that was extended in order to pass the bill.
White told Baptist Press the bill was “pushed through” Parliament before legislators had adequate opportunity to confer with constituents.
“This bill was only introduced in February,” White said. “In less than six months we have seen a major, major social change, a redefining of a fundamental institution like this. In six months we’ve seen this bill pushed through without giving members of Parliament an opportunity to go back to their constituency over the summer break to hear from Canadians.”
White noted that Canadian proponents of traditional marriage have shown a great degree of willingness to communicate their beliefs to members of Parliament, sending more than 2 million e-mails and 50,000 faxes to legislators. Christians in particular have mobilized to oppose “gay marriage” in a manner that is rarely seen in Canada, she said.
“We’ve certainly seen a galvanizing, an interest amongst Canadian Christians to really fight for their values and to fight for their country in a way that has not happened around any other issue for perhaps a couple of decades,” White said.
Some Christians worry that their ability to oppose “same-sex marriage” may be limited by Canadian laws protecting homosexuals and other minority groups from “hate speech.” The ability to air radio and television broadcasts condemning the practice of homosexuality have fallen under particular scrutiny, with Focus on the Family Canada receiving a government warning within the last five years for airing a broadcast speaking against homosexuality.
But White remains “cautiously optimistic that those freedoms will be upheld,” adding, “But we are certainly concerned that we are seeing a narrowing of religious freedom in Canada.”
Most importantly, she stressed that believers must stand for biblical truth in the face of the current moral uncertainty in Canada.
“This is a monumental change for us,” she said. “And I think all Canadians are wondering, ‘What does this mean? What is this going to look like over the next year or two as we get used to this brave new world where marriage is no longer what we understood it to be?’”