Bid To Kill Canada's Gay Marriage Bill Defeated
by Ben Thompson 365Gay.com Ottawa Bureau
The Conservative Party lost this very IMPORTANT Vote.
Steven Harper is playing GAMES !!!
Canada passed a Very Important Test today.
"P.M. Paul Martin"
(Ottawa) The Canadian Liberal government's same-sex marriage bill survived a move by the opposition Conservatives to derail the measure late Tuesday.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper had proposed amending the bill to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman but allow for civil unions. All but four members of his party supported the move. It was also supported by a large number of Liberals - opposed to their own government's legislation.
Almost all of the members of the two smaller parties - the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois - voted against the amendment.
The final vote was 164 -132 to defeat the Tory motion.
The legislation still faces other votes and Conservatives say they will continue to fight the marriage bill but most analysts, following today's vote, say they expect the government's bill to survive.
The Liberals say they want the legislation passed by May. But, the minority Liberal government could fall at any time, forcing an election.
If the government falls before the bill is passed it would die on House floor. However, should that occur, or if the bill were defeated in a Commons vote, same-sex marriage in more than 80 percent of Canada where courts have ruled in favor of gay and lesbian couples would not be affected.
But, even if the legislation does make it through the future of same-sex marriage could be put in jeopardy by an impending election.
A poll this week showed that if there were an election today the Conservatives would win.
Speaking at a rally of some 15,000 evangelical Christians, Catholics and Muslims on Parliament Hill on Saturday Harper vowed that if his party is elected to govern he would would abolish same-sex marriage - even in those provinces where courts have declared it legal. (story)
Monday, two leading constitutional law experts said that the only way Harper could achieve that would be by using the so-called 'notwithstanding clause' - a section of the Constitution which allows governments to opt out of sections of the document and must be renewed every five years.
Although Harper denies that this would be the only way to accomplish it constitutional law professor Martha Jackman says he is wrong. (story)
"Canadian courts . . . have made it clear that equal marriage is a matter of fundamental, constitutional law,'' said Jackman of the University of Ottawa. Her position is supported by the Canadian Bar Association.
Gay civil rights advocates say Harper is on dangerous ground. Alex Munter, spokesperson for Canadians for Equal Marriages, warned Harper that his bid to "vaporize'' same-sex marriages will cast him as a social extremist in any upcoming election.
"He wants to annul people's marriages,'' Munter told reporters on Parliament Hill.
"He wants to say that gays and lesbians are not protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Those are extreme positions not shared by most Canadians. And in an election campaign, he'll have to answer for those positions.''
Munter may be right. Pollsters say the public is almost evenly divided on gay marriage. And, in the last federal election, a year ago, the Tories also were leading in the polls up until the week before the election. The lead evaporated when Liberals accused Conservatives of trying to gut the Charter - Canada's Bill of Rights.
What had been predicated as a Conservative landslide turned into a Liberal minority government.
More than 3,000 gay couples have tied the knot in Canada since courts in seven provinces and the Yukon cleared the way.