Thursday, April 06, 2006

New Canadian Government Moves To Repeal Gay Marriage Law

by Ben Thompson, 365Gay.com Ottawa Bureau

April 5, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Ottawa) Canada's new Conservative government said Wednesday that it is preparing legislation to repeal the same-sex marriage law.

The move follows a campaign promise to hold a free vote in Parliament on the issue.

The marriage bill was not mentioned in this week's Speech from the Throne - the government's outline of its agenda for the session - leading some LGBT advocates to wonder if Prime Minister Stephen Harper was abandoning his threat.

Wednesday, however, Justice Minister Vic Toews said the bill is being prepared and a vote would be held "sooner rather than later.''

Toews pointed to the party platform saying that if the equal marriage law is overturned the government would bring in a second bill limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Asked about the marriage issue Harper later in the day said that the bill would not be introduced this spring but likely in the fall.

Canadians for Equal Marriage called the Tory plan a mistake.

"All indications are that Canadians are opposed to re-opening this debate," Laurie Arron, the organization's national coordinator told 365Gay.com.

Two recent Environics polls show that two-thirds of Canadians are against re-opening the marriage debate. As well, a recent survey of Canada's top executives revealed a strong consensus against re-opening the issue.

In January, following the winter election that resulted in a minority Conservative government, a Canadian Press study of the new House of Commons suggested a vote on repealing the marriage law would be rejected.

It would not be a total loss, however, the Canadian Press reported, noting that an honorable defeat on equal marriage would satisfy obligations to Harper's most right-wing supporters while defusing a politically explosive issue.

Far right social groups opposed to same-sex marriage have been making their presence known on Parliament Hill in recent weeks. The groups have been lobbying members of Parliament to support a repeal effort.

©365Gay.com 2006

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