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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Canadian political scandal could prevent ‘gay marriage’ vote; U.S. Senate considers amendment

OTTAWA (BP)–A Canadian political scandal involving the governing Liberal Party could directly impact the push to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

The scandal, which some are calling Canada’s “Watergate,” escalated recently when a Quebec advertising executive testified that top Liberals asked him to donate to the party in exchange for government contracts. His company received contracts four times between 1993 and 2002 — a stretch in which the Liberals were in charge.

The contracts — part of a Liberal-backed sponsorship program — were to be used in Quebec for advertisements and promotions for Canadian unity. A significant number of people in the French-speaking province favor secession, although a 1995 referendum on secession failed.

An audit showed that $82 million (in U.S. dollars) out of $250 million budgeted for the sponsorship program went to advertising agencies that supported the Liberals. The audit also showed that some of the agencies produced nothing even though they were paid.

A handful of new polls have many observers predicting that an election will be called by this summer. (Unlike the U.S., Canada does not have scheduled elections.) If the Conservative Party wins the House of Commons, a Liberal bill to legalize same-sex “marriage” almost certainly would die.

“There is a depth of anger there. The Liberal Party is in deep, deep trouble,” Richard Simeon, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, told the Associated Press.

The Liberals currently have 132 seats in the 308-seat House of Commons. Conservatives have 99, the Bloc Quebecois 54 and the New Democratic Party 19. There are three independents and one vacancy.

One poll, done by EKOS, showed 36 percent of Canadians supporting the Conservatives, 25 percent the Liberals, 20.5 percent the NDPs and 12.6 percent the Bloc.

Another poll, this one by Environics, showed the Conservatives at 33 percent, the Liberals at 27 percent and the NDP at 24 percent.

Because the Liberals don’t have a majority of seats in the House, the other parties can topple the government if they decide not to cooperate on legislation. The Liberals lost majority government status during last June’s election.

“There is little immediately apparent in the political environment … to suggest a way back for the Liberals,” EKOS pollster Frank Graves told the Toronto Star, adding that his poll showed “a breathtaking shift in what had been a stagnant and listless political landscape.”

Prime Minister Paul Martin, a Liberal, is pushing to legalize same-sex “marriage” nationwide. It already is legal in seven of 10 provinces.

A Conservative government would result in Stephen Harper, a social conservative on most issues, becoming prime minister. He has been a vocal opponent of the same-sex “marriage” push.

The “gay marriage” bill was introduced in February by Martin himself. Harper attempted to amend the bill so that it instead would ban same-sex “marriage,” but that attempt failed April 12 on a 164-132 vote in the House of Commons.

Canadians are split on the marriage issue, with polls showing either slim opposition or slim support. A March Environics poll of 1,203 adults showed 52 percent of Canadians opposing the Liberal bid to legalize “gay marriage,” 44 percent supporting it.

SENATE CONSIDERS AMENDMENT — A U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony April 14 on the need of a U.S. constitutional marriage amendment. Specifically, the hearing addressed whether state bans on “gay marriage” are in jeopardy from a federal court ruling.

Gerard V. Bradley, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, argued for an amendment’s passage, saying the Supreme Court will take up the issue eventually if Congress does not.

“[I]f there is going to be an amendment to the Constitution about same-sex marriage … which body shall make that call? The court? Or Congress and the American people?” he asked.

“… I offer to you my professional judgment … that making a watershed judicial ruling a condition precedent to proposing an amendment to the people is unnecessary as a matter of law and imprudent as a matter of politics. Why should Congress wait and see whether the court amends the Constitution first?”

The marriage amendment in the Senate has 28 sponsors. Is it S.J. Res. 1.

NO ORE. CIVIL UNIONS? — An Oregon Supreme Court ruling April 14 against same-sex “marriage” may have ended efforts to pass a civil unions bill in the state legislature. The court tossed out the 3,000 marriage licenses Multnomah County had issued to homosexual couples. It also refused to take up the question of whether Vermont-style civil unions — which provide most of the legal benefits of marriage — must be legalized.

The court said the county’s marriage licenses were invalid from the get-go — even before Oregon voters passed a marriage amendment.

The lawsuit, which at first sought “gay marriage” legalization, was filed before the November amendment vote. After the amendment passed, attorneys for the same-sex couples changed strategy and instead asked for civil unions. But the court ruled that the attorneys could not change their legal request mid-stream.

Although Oregon’s governor wants to see a civil unions bill passed, such an effort faces an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled House, which shows no desire to tackle the issue.

“With the budget and this meth situation at the top of our list, we’re going to have our hands full,” state Rep. Chairman Wayne Krieger, a Republican and the chairman of the House judiciary committee, was quoted as saying in The Oregonian.

S.C., TEXAS ADVANCE AMENDMENTS — State constitutional marriage amendments advanced in South Carolina and Texas the week of April 10.

In South Carolina, the state Senate passed an amendment April 13 by a vote of 37-1. The House earlier passed a slightly different version. If the two chambers agree one version, the amendment would go to voters in 2006.

In Texas, a House committee passed an amendment April 11 by a vote of 6-1.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust