OTTAWA (BP)–The Canadian Liberal government survived a critical vote of confidence in the House of Commons May 19, and with it a “gay marriage” bill was given new hope.
The Liberals, facing a vote that would have forced an election one month later, won by the narrowest of margins when Liberal House Speaker Peter Milliken voted with the government to break a 152-152 tie.
Rare coalitions were formed among Canada’s four major parties. Voting with the government were all the Liberals and New Democratic Party members, along with two independents. Voting against the government were all the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois, along with one independent.
A bill that would legalize “gay marriage” apparently now will have time to pass. The bill currently is in committee and is expected to receive a vote in the House of Commons before it adjourns this summer. The Conservatives are the only party with a majority of members opposing it.
“Gay marriage” already is legal in seven of 10 provinces and one of three territories. The bill would legalize it nationwide, joining Canada with Belgium and the Netherlands as the only countries to legalize “gay marriage.” It also is legal in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, a Liberal, was relieved following the vote.
“This was not just about a budget,” Martin said afterwards, according to The Toronto Star. “It was about a vision of Canada. It was about a perspective on the nation.”
Unlike the United States, Canada does not have scheduled elections. Because the Liberals have a plurality but not a majority of seats in the House of Commons, the other parties can bring the government down at will.
The Liberals recently formed a coalition with the New Democratic Party, promising NDP-backed items in the budget in return for NDP support in the confidence vote.
The vote came as the Liberals are embroiled in a political and financial scandal some are calling Canada’s “Watergate.” Martin has promised an election within a year, but Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper had hoped to force an election sooner.
Just one week before the vote, the Liberals appeared doomed. But two days prior to the vote, Conservative MP (member of Parliament) Belinda Stronach jumped ship and switched to the Liberal Party, dealing a devastating blow to Harper. Her vote with the Conservatives would have forced an election.
PSYCHIATRISTS BACK ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — Members attending the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting May 23 voted to support “gay marriage.”
“The American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same sex civil marriage,” the statement reads, in part. “Heterosexual relationships have a legal framework for their existence through civil marriage. Same sex couples therefore experience several kinds of state-sanctioned discrimination that can adversely affect the stability of their relationships and mental health.”
If the statement is approved by the body’s board of directors in July, the association would become the first major medical association backing “gay marriage,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The meeting was held in Atlanta.
MASS. DEMS SUPPORT ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — The Massachusetts Democratic Party endorsed the legalization of “gay marriage” in its platform May 14, despite the fact that a number of Democratic state legislators still oppose it. Weeks earlier, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry also criticized the state party for considering the move. The platform passed by voice vote, with a handful of loud “no’s” heard throughout the arena, according to the Associated Press.
Massachusetts Republican Party leader Tim O’Brien said, according to the AP, “They’ve said if you think that marriage is just between a man and a woman there is no place for you in our party.”
Massachusetts legalized “gay marriage” in 2004 following a ruling by its highest court. A constitutional amendment that would ban “gay marriage” while legalizing civil unions is expected to receive a vote later this year in the state legislature, although its passage is in doubt. If it passes the legislature, it would go to voters in 2006.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage