Friday, July 01, 2005

Canadian legislature votes for same sex marriage

Today is Canada Day, and this is my nod to the occasion. The vote in our legislature this week marks Canada as a progressive society. For me, it's another reason to celebrate this great country.

I don't anticipate much action on my blog, since it's a holiday weekend both in Canada and in the USA. Rather than offer any substantial analysis when no one is likely to be visiting, I decided simply to report on this historic vote.

On Tuesday evening, Canada's House of Commons voted in favour of same sex marriage. The Bill still requires the approval of the Senate and the Governor General (the Queen's representative in Canada). The latter two stages are formalities, however, and the legislation should take effect within a couple weeks.

Canada will be the third or fourth country to legalize same sex marriage, after Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. (The Spanish legislature voted in favour of same sex marriage Thursday; the law still awaits final approval from the King of Spain.)

Members of Parliament are taking a political risk, albeit one that was forced on them by Canada's Courts of Appeal. In nine (ten?) of Canada's provinces and territories, Courts of Appeal had already found that the restrictive definition of marriage — the "one man, one woman" definition — was unconstitutional. Without the legislature taking any action, same sex marriage was already legal in those nine jurisdictions.

The effect of the Bill is to legalize same sex marriage in all thirteen Canadian provinces and territories.

I will be writing more on this subject early next week. I've decided it provides good illustrative material for my continuing series on debating etiquette. Thus there is more to come when the holidays are over.

[from Wednesday's Globe and Mail — link above.]

OTTAWA -- Canada is on its way to becoming the third country in the world to openly embrace homosexual marriage after the House of Commons gave its final approval last night [June 28] to a bill that changes the definition to include same sex couples.

The historic 158-133 vote capped an intense and divisive two-year Commons battle that maintained its political drama to the end, as Liberal minister Joe Comuzzi resigned from cabinet yesterday because he could not support his government's move.

Réal Ménard, a gay Bloc Québécois MP who has been one of the leading proponents of the bill within his party and within Parliament, said the vote was extremely important. "If you are gay, [no matter] who you are, whatever are your rights, you have the right to be in love," he said as his eyes welled with tears. "And I am very proud today for what we have done." …

But, just as there were celebrations, so too was there a feeling of dejection and loss among those who had worked hard to block the bill. Religious groups held prayer vigils after the final count was read and other opponents who had crowded the public gallery of the Commons walked quietly away.

Conservative Vic Toews, who has fervently opposed same-sex marriage, said he does not think the issue is closed.

"There are still a lot of concerns about how effective this bill is going to be in terms of protecting religious freedoms," he said. …

All that remains for the same-sex bill to become law is debate in the Senate, where Liberals vastly outnumber the opposition Conservatives and are expected to pass the bill early next month.

Belgium and the Netherlands are the only two countries to have legalized same-sex marriage, but Spain is on the verge of passing a similar law that will soon be put to the King for final approval.

Alex Munter, of Canadians for Equal Marriage, praised last night's vote, as well as gay and lesbian Canadians who have long advocated for gay rights. "This is a proud and exciting day to be a Canadian."


At 1:23 PM, July 06, 2005, Blogger snaars said...

The United Church of Christ Backs Gay Marriage

"On this July Fourth the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has acted courageously to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of same gender couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state, and encouraging our local churches to celebrate and bless those marriages," said the Rev. John H. Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ.

Seems like a good week for both equal rights and equal rites, eh?

At 1:32 PM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Nice pun — snaarsissistic, even.

This is a tough issue for churches. The United Church of Christ will decline in membership — bet on it. But obviously they're taking a stand for what they believe to be right.

At 2:16 PM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

Taking a stand almost always has costs, but so does not taking one.

Recently on a Blog I ran a poll and posted an article on same sex marriages. I attempted to stay nuetral, by refusing to divulge my opinion on the matter as I have friends solidly on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately more than one of my freinds took offense to my neutral stance.

As society surges forward it is hard not to get caught in the current.

At 3:03 PM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

In my experience, trying to stay neutral doesn't spare you any grief, it just exposes you to criticism from both sides.

If you position yourself on one side or the other, you cut your potential critics in half and likely gain some supporters!

But it's tough to side with one set of friends against another set of friends. It sounds like there was no good solution open to you.


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