News Articles

MARRIAGE DIGEST: Canadian conservatives aren’t giving up; MLK’s daughter leads march; Oregon court hears case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The political odds may be stacked against them, but opponents of same-sex “marriage” in Canada aren’t giving up without a fight.

While the Liberal federal government announced Dec. 9 that a “gay marriage” bill would be debated in January, politicians throughout the country who oppose the bill have begun plotting strategy.

The movement has seen even members of the Liberal Party — the party that is pushing for the re-definition of marriage — speak out against the bill. Prime Minister Paul Martin is a Liberal.

“I’m one of several very active MPs [Members of Parliament] trying to convince MPs to vote against it,” Liberal MP Patrick O’Brien told The Hill Times. “There’s no formal organization, but there are two or three of us who are pretty vigorously trying to convince members who are undecided and we are continuing to do that.

“At the moment, we have a bit of an uphill fight but we aren’t giving up and we are going to wage that fight and I think the side who wants this to pass might be a little overconfident.”

Hoping to temper opposition within his party, Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said Dec. 13 that civic officials who oppose same-sex “marriage” would not be forced to perform such ceremonies. It had already been expected that religious officials would be protected within the bill. Cotler’s position likely means that, if the bill passes, some rural communities won’t see same-sex “marriages” performed — simply because every official there will oppose them.

The bill needs 155 votes to pass in the 308 seat Parliament, and the vote will be mostly a free vote — meaning that MPs will be allowed to vote their conscience and will not be asked to follow the party line. The exception to that are members of Martin’s Liberal cabinet — all 39 of whom will be required to vote for it. The remaining 95 Liberals likely will decide the bill’s fate.

The Liberals have a minority government in Canada’s four-party system.

According to CTV News most of the 99 Conservative MPs are expected to vote against the bill, while most of the 54 Bloc Quebecois and 19 New Democratic Party MPs will vote for it. Assuming that Martin’s cabinet and the majority of Bloc and New Democrats vote for the bill, it would need the support of approximately 43-45 of the remaining 95 Liberals to pass. There are two independents, and one has said she’s voting against the bill.

O’Brien says that one unnamed cabinet member may reject Martin’s call for support.

“I know one friend in cabinet who has said, ‘I’m gone if I have to tow the party line on this,'” O’Brien said on a Canadian television program Dec. 12, according to CTV.ca.

Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper said Dec. 14 that he would add amendments to the bill to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Although he didn’t provide specific details, he implied that his amendments would legalize civil unions — unions that would provide the legal benefits of marriage without using the term “marriage.”

Same-sex “marriage” is already legal in six of the 10 provinces and in one territory. It is not legal in Alberta, and provincial Premier Ralph Klein wants to see it stay that way. Alberta is more conservative than most of the country.

“In this province, my feeling is the majority — and I don’t know what the percentage of the majority is — but the majority of people are opposed to same-sex marriage,” he said, according to CTV.ca. “And I represent the people of this province.”

Klein has called for a national referendum on same-sex “marriage,” although Martin has rejected such proposals. O’Brien, the Liberal MP, also supports allowing the Canadian citizens to vote on the issue.

“We are talking about the most fundamental institution in our society, the most important institution … there ought to be serious consideration of going directly to the Canadian people and asking for their input when you’re talking about such a fundamental change to something so vital to this society,” O’Brien said on CTV television, before adding that marriage is “heterosexual by nature, by definition, and it comes from a higher power, as far as I am concerned than the Supreme Court of Canada.”

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled Dec. 9 that Parliament had the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is worth defending, Klein said.

“It’s a very sacred and sacramental ceremony sanctified by a church where vows are taken in front of God,” he told the Edmonton Sun.

MLK’S DAUGHTER LEADS MARCH — Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., helped lead a march Dec. 11 supporting a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

King and thousands others marched in downtown Atlanta, beginning at the King Memorial and ending at Turner Field. Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church — which has some 25,000 members — led the march.

“We are not marching against folks. We are marching for folks,” Long told the crowd, according to he Atlanta Journal-Constitution. King is an elder at New Birth Missionary Church.

The push for same-sex “marriage” has seen prominent black leaders come down on opposite sides of the issue. Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, supports “gay marriage,” as does Rep. John Lewis, D.-Ga., a prominent civil rights leader from the 1960s.

But Bernice King and others have been outspoken in their opposition to the homosexual activist movement. In March some 30 black pastors from the Atlanta area signed a statement opposing same-sex “marriage.”

In February, three major organizations of black pastors in Massachusetts signed a similar statement. Bernice King made her viewpoint known in New Zealand in October, when she said of her father: “I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he did not take a bullet for same-sex unions,” she said, according to the AJC.

ORE. COURT HEARS CASE — The Oregon Supreme Court heard a case Dec. 15 that will decide the validity of 3,000 marriage licenses issue to same-sex couples by Multnomah County in early 2004. On Election Day a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” passed by a margin of 57-43 percent.

The American Civil Liberties Union told the justices that the amendment is not retroactive and that the licenses should be recognized. The ACLU also wants to see the court legalize civil unions — unions that would provide the legal benefits of marriage without using the term “marriage.”

But pro-family leaders in the state argue that the licenses cannot be recognized because the Oregon Constitution now bans same-sex “marriage.”

“How can the county now ignore the constitution?” Kelly Clark, a lawyer for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, asked during arguments, according to the Associated Press.

Clark has argued that the ACLU lawsuit initially dealt only with same-sex “marriage” and not civil unions. The ACLU must re-file its lawsuit in order to ask for civil union legalization, he said.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust