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Vote reveals sharp divide on same-sex ‘marriage’ in Canada

OTTAWA (BP)–The move toward legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Canada may not be a done deal as previously thought.

A sharp divide within the Canadian Parliament was exposed Sept. 16 when a non-binding motion defending the traditional definition of marriage was defeated narrowly, 137-132.

While it was a loss for social conservatives, it showed that the future of same-sex “marriage” within the country is not a foregone conclusion. Even though it was non-binding it was the first real test for Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who has proposed legislation legalizing same-sex “marriage” nationwide. Court rulings this summer made it legal in two provinces — Ontario and British Columbia — and Chretien’s government chose not to appeal the case to the Canadian Supreme Court.

Parliament likely will vote on the legislation either late this fall or sometime next year.

Members of the Canadian Alliance — the conservative party that presented the resolution — were encouraged for several reasons. First, some 50 members of the Liberal party — Prime Minister Chretien’s party — voted for the resolution. Second, around 30 members of Parliament did not vote at all. It is not known how they will vote on the legislation.

The resolution stated in part that “marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” and that Parliament should “take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.”

The Canadian Alliance also was heartened by the fact that prior to the final vote, an amended version of the motion — which also defended traditional marriage — ended in a 134-134 tie. The Parliament speaker cast the deciding vote against it.

The split in Parliament reflects the split among the nation’s citizens. The latest poll showed that 46 percent of Canada’s adults were against legalizing same-sex “marriage,” 46 percent for it. The issue could be monumental in next year’s election. The man favored to succeed Chretien, Paul Martin, supports same-sex “marriage.”

The arguments for and against the resolution reflected the arguments that have been made this summer in America on the issue.

In introducing the resolution, Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper argued that same-sex “marriage” has been advanced through the courts in a “highly undemocratic manner.” He said same-sex “marriage” supporters should have taken their case to the Canadian people and told them why it is “desirable and socially necessary” to abolish the definition of marriage.

“But opponents of traditional marriage have refused to do that,” he said. “So they have gone to the courts to turn this, to contort this, into a human rights issue.”

In fact, the resolution is virtually identical to one passed 216-55 by Parliament in 1999 and supported by Prime Minister Chretien. Asked about his reversal on the issue, Chretien said that society “has evolved,” according to the Associated Press.

In other marriage-related news:

NEW DEFINITION — Canadian court rulings for same-sex “marriage” now have impacted the dictionary. The new Canadian Oxford Dictionary will change its definition of marriage to read, “The legal or religious union of two people,” editor-in-chief Katherine Barber told CanWest News Service. It will say nothing about a husband and wife.

She said that if “the law changes, or society changed” then “we just change the definition.” She criticized those who are opposed to the change. “They don’t want to admit that gay people can have relationships that are just like their ideal heterosexual relationship,” Barber told the news service.

CAROLINIANS OPPOSED — By a margin of 66-24 percent, adults in North and South Carolina are opposed to the legalization of Vermont-type same-sex unions, according to a poll of 908 people by The Charlotte Observer and Charlotte TV station NBC 6.

However, 36 percent said they are more accepting of the homosexual lifestyle than they were five years ago, 35 percent said less and 22 said they were the same.

Same-sex unions give homosexual couples many of the benefits of marriage without labeling it “marriage.”

CALIFORNIANS POLLED — Fifty percent of California voters are opposed to the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” according to an August Field Poll of 629 registered voters. Forty-two percent of voters in the state support the idea.

But just five years ago, 55 percent were opposed to same-sex “marriage.”

Voters in the latest poll were lukewarm to the idea of a U.S. Constitutional amendment banning homosexual “marriage.” By a 50-42 margin the state’s voters said they opposed such a move.

BISHOPS SUPPORT AMENDMENT — The administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gave its support Sept. 10 to a proposed Federal Marriage Amendment that would ban same-sex “marriage” within the U.S. Constitution.

“We offer general support for a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as we continue to work to protect marriage in state legislatures, the courts, the Congress and other appropriate forums,” the statement read.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust