Canada to permit same-sex 'marriage' in declining to challenge court ruling

TORONTO, Canada (BP)--Canada is poised to recognize same-sex "marriages" after the federal government announced it would not appeal a recent Ontario court ruling.

The Canadian government stated June 17 it would not appeal an Ontario court ruling that gives homosexuals within the province the right to "marry." Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the government's decision means "we have recognized the definition that has been developed by the courts," according to Canada's CanWest News Service.

The Canadian government will now move to draft a law in the coming weeks legalizing same-sex "marriage." As of June 23, homosexuals can acquire licenses only within the borders of Ontario.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, lamented the move by Canada to become the third nation in the world to recognize same-sex "marriages." Belgium and the Netherlands already recognize homosexual "marriage."

"Whether the nightmare in Canada becomes the nightmare in the United States depends entirely on whether or not evangelical Christians are willing to stand up for what they say they believe in and what the Bible espouses, which is that marriage is between a man and a woman," Land told Baptist Press. "So it's up to us."

Ever since the Ontario court handed down its ruling June 10, homosexual couples from other provinces and from throughout the United States and the world have flocked to Ontario, seeking to get their relationships legally recognized. Homosexual "marriage" is not recognized within the United States, although court cases seeking recognition of Canadian licenses could follow.

"Today is day one for millions of gays and lesbians in Canada and around the world," one homosexual man, Michael Leshner, said, according to The Washington Post. "This is a wonderful, wonderful human rights story and a wonderful love story. ... This judgment put a stake in the heart of homophobia."

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported that nine of 10 provinces in the nation are prepared to follow the federal government's declaration that it will pass legislation declaring same-sex "marriage" as lawful.

Only Alberta remains opposed. Justice Minister Dave Hancock told the Globe and Mail that his province would resist the move. "To take an institution that is near and dear to so many people and change the definition in this way is going too far," he said.

Hancock isn't alone. Some members of the Liberal political party also are vocally opposed to same-sex "marriage," the newspaper reported.

Hancock said the federal government should have appealed the rulings to the nation's Supreme Court.

The Alberta government plans to use a clause in Canada's constitution to protect it against challenges to provincial responsibility to recognize marriages, he added.

"Can we redefine marriage? Probably not; that's in the federal jurisdiction," Hancock said. "Can we say that we will not recognize marriage in Alberta unless it adheres to the 'opposite sex' definition that we have in our act? Yes, I believe we can."

In a prepared statement, Chretien said the Canadian government "will be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. At the same time, we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples."

After the legislation is drafted, it will be referred to the Canadian Supreme Court and then put to a vote in the House of Commons, Chretien said. He added that the bill will be ready within weeks, since the government does not want a long period of uncertainty.

In his statement, the prime minister avoided using the politically charged term, "same-sex marriage," the Globe noted.

But Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon told the Toronto newspaper it is "quite clear" the federal government is recognizing same-sex "marriages" by not appealing the court decisions.

Cauchon said the decision had the full support of the Liberal cabinet and he believes the bill will pass in Parliament.

"It's a great day for Canada," Cauchon told the newspaper. "I'm very proud to be part of this country."

Meanwhile, the Globe also reported that Toronto is attracting homosexual couples from America and around the world. At least one tour operator plans to advertise special wedding packages for homosexual American couples who want to get "married" in Canada, the newspaper said.

After one man obtained a license to "marry" his male partner, he told the Globe, "Toronto is now going to be a marriage destination for people from around the world and the [United] States. At some point those marriages will be recognized by their home jurisdictions."

Still, same-sex couples from America who visit Canada to "marry" will face a struggle for recognition of their unions.

"Couples who marry in Ontario and return to the United States seeking the same rights, responsibilities and obligations that heterosexual married couples receive should be aware that discriminatory laws in this country remain a problem," Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, told The New York Times, reported June 19.

She pledged that the pro-homosexual lobby would continue to end what it called "marriage discrimination" in the United States.

The Times noted that Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 that said marriage only applies to persons of the opposite sex; 37 states have similar laws.

In addition, The Times noted that critics of same-sex "marriage" say that Canada's move should be viewed as an assault on the traditional nuclear family.

In a release issued by the Family Research Council, President Ken Connor called marriage the foundational institution of civilization that transcends cultures, religions and nationalities.

"As a member of the Canadian parliament put it, a 5,000-year-old institution that is the best arrangement for raising and nurturing children is being systematically deconstructed," he said. "Unless the American people rise up to defend this indispensable institution, we could lose marriage in a very short time."


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