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Canada Legalises Gay Marriage


Canada became the third country to legalise gay marriage early today, as parliament passed landmark legislation allowing same-sex civil unions, despite strong opposition from Conservatives and religious leaders.

Although gay marriage is already legal in seven provinces, the Bill now grants all same-sex couples in Canada the same legal rights as those in traditional union between a man and a woman.

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other nations that allow gay marriage nationwide.

The legislation, drafted by prime minister Paul Martin’s minority Liberal Party government, is expected to easily pass through the Liberal-dominated Senate and become federal law by the end of July.

It was the last major piece of legislation before parliament recessed for summer and comes on the first anniversary of Martin’s leadership.

Thirty-three of Martin’s Liberal MPs voted against the Bill and a Cabinet minister resigned yesterday over the contentious legislation. But enough allies rallied to support the Bill that has been debated for months.

Martin, a Roman Catholic, hailed the 158-133 vote as a necessary step for human rights and the protection of minorities.

“We are a nation of minorities,” Martin said. “And in a nation of minorities, it is important that you don’t cherry-pick rights. A right is a right and that is what this vote is all about.”

There are an estimated 34,000 gay and lesbian couples in Canada, according to government statistics.

Alex Munter, national spokesman for Canadians for Equal Marriage, which has led the debate in favour of the law, was triumphant after the vote. “The genius of Canada, almost unparalleled in the world, is built on shared identity, out of respect for each other,” he said.

Munter said it had been 30 years since the first homosexual couple applied for a marriage licence in Canada.

“This has been a long, arduous road,” he said. “Lesbians and gay people are your brothers and sisters, neighbours, friends and co-workers. At the end of the day, no argument in favour of exclusion can withstand what people see with their own eyes: that it is wrong to treat people that they care about in a way that diminishes their personal choice.”

Churches have expressed concern that their clergy would be compelled by law to perform same-sex ceremonies, with couples taking them to court or human rights tribunals if refused. The legislation, however, states that the Bill only covers civil unions, not religious ones, and no clergy would be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies unless they chose to do so.

The Roman Catholic Church, the predominant Christian denomination in Canada, vigorously opposed the legislation, as well as major Islamic and Sikh organisations whose members believe the law would rock the foundations of traditional family.

Charles McVety, a spokesman for Defend Marriage Canada and president of Canada Christian College, called the vote an “onerous breach of trust and the deconstruction of so much that is dear to our hearts”.


This is a big step from the statement by the Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on Same Sex Unions, Jun. 17, 2003:

"We will not be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we 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 recognises the union of same sex couples. As soon as the legislation is drafted, it will be referred to the Supreme Court. After that, it will be put to a free vote in the House."


What a GREAT way to celebrate Canada Day!!


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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jun. 30th, 2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
Viva Espana!!!
Chaz: Now, be just. All my Spanish blood rises up to claim the right you have given Canada as the third country to legalise gay marriage. Spain is "el tercero", not your adopted patria. Considering how many centuries my ancestors (and I) have suffered under the oppressive Catholicism of Espana la Catolica, surely we deserve some credit???
mc4bbs
Jun. 30th, 2005 12:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Viva Espana!!!

Send your complaints to http://news.scotsman.com/ whom published this article in it's papers and online at http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4755798

----------------------------------------------------------------
In fact, in the article in Reuters|UK (below), they say Spain is the 4th country to adopt gay marriage.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Spain defies Church to legalise gay marriage
Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:12 AM BST
By Emma Ross-Thomas

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain legalised same-sex marriages on Thursday, becoming only the fourth country to do so after Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands and overriding fierce opposition from the Catholic Church.

"With the approval of this law, our country takes a further step on the road of freedom and tolerance," said Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has embarked on a social reform programme since his election last year.

Supporters jumped to their feet to celebrate in a crowded public gallery when parliament voted to push the law through. Outside, dozens of same-sex couples hugged and kissed, some of them in tears.

The Catholic Church has strongly resisted Spain's gay marriage law but a survey last year showed 70 percent of Spaniards supported legalising gay marriage.

"This changes my life 100 percent. It changes the focus of my life from being a bachelor ... to having a formal family with children," Evarist Beneyto, a 26-year-old administrator, said.

"I never thought we would get to this point," he said.

Mariano Rajoy, leader of Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party which opposed the law, accused Zapatero of acting irresponsibly by pushing through a gay marriage law instead of seeking consensus on a less far-reaching civil unions law.

DIVISIONS

"He has caused an enormous division in Spanish society," he said. Rajoy said the Popular Party would study an appeal to Spain's constitutional court and a party colleague said it would consider repealing the law if it returned to office.

Earlier this month, bishops and nuns marched through Madrid with hundreds of thousands of Spaniards to protest against gay marriage and last month Spanish Roman Catholic bishops commanded all Catholics to resist applying the same-sex marriage law.

Spain's Congress on Thursday approved the bill, overriding the upper house, the Senate, which had rejected it.

The law gives same-sex unions the same status as heterosexual ones, including inheritance rights, pensions and the adoption of children.

During the 1939 to 1975 dictatorship of Francisco Franco, homosexuality, divorce and abortion were illegal. But since Franco's death the country has adopted some of the most liberal views in Europe.

Zapatero's liberal reforms are popular among young people. Fewer than a fifth of them are practising Catholics.

Canada on Tuesday became the third country to legalise same-sex marriages. Belgium allowed for them in June 2003. The Netherlands allowed same sex-marriages in December 2000 although Dutch law had recognised registered partnerships since 1998.

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-06-30T101201Z_01_SCH030717_RTRUKOC_0_SPAIN-GAY.xml

(Anonymous)
Jun. 30th, 2005 02:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Viva Espana!!!
Ok, Buddy, but the BBC this morning did say Spain is the third country. You know I'd never disagree with you just to pique you, but this IS a matter of Spanish pride (pundonor). Hope we won't have to fight a duel over this--you pick the weapons.

--Phil.
mc4bbs
Jun. 30th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Viva Espana!!!

Ok, Buddy, but the BBC this morning did say Spain is the third country. You know I'd never disagree with you just to pique you, but this IS a matter of Spanish pride (pundonor). Hope we won't have to fight a duel over this--you pick the weapons.

You are correct, the BBC, unlike the rest of the world's news sources, are claiming Spain is the 3rd -- I guess they will have to write a retraction.


BBC News - World Edition:

Spanish MPs approve gay marriages
---------------------------------

The law puts same-sex couples on the same footing as heterosexuals
Spain's lower house of parliament has voted in favour of allowing gay couples to marry and adopt children.

The controversial decision overrules last week's rejection of the bill by the upper house, the Senate.

The bill will become law in a month's time, making Spain Europe's third nation after the Netherlands and Belgium to allow same sex marriages.

Polls suggest most Spaniards back the move, although two weeks ago thousands joined a Madrid rally against the bill.

Need for unity

A Roman Catholic group had presented MPs with a 600,000-signature petition opposing the legislation and were lobbying hard for a referendum on the issue.


We are not legislating, ladies and gentlemen, for remote unknown people - we are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbours, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

They are urging conservative lawmakers to take legal action to have gay marriages declared unconstitutional.

Some of Spain's local mayors have said they will not officiate at gay marriages.

The Roman Catholic Church wields great influence in Spain, but the BBC's Katya Adler in Madrid says that since the Madrid bomb attacks in March 2004, Spaniards want unity among their people more than anything.

The vote was carried with 187 votes in favour, 147 against and four abstentions.

The new legislation is one of a series of social reforms, including faster divorce proceedings, being introduced by Spain's socialist government, led by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Addressing MPs before the vote Mr Zapatero made an appeal for the law to be passed:

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality," he said.

"We are not legislating, ladies and gentlemen, for remote unknown people. We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbours, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives."

There were cheers outside parliament following the vote.

The new law puts same-sex and heterosexual marriages on the same legal footing, including the right to adopt children.

About 5,000 gay couples in Spain have already announced they are queuing up to say "I do", our correspondent says.





mc4bbs
Jun. 30th, 2005 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Viva Espana!!!

Ahhhhhhh... Read the FINE PRINT:

"making Spain Europe's third nation after the Netherlands and Belgium to allow same sex marriages."

EUROPE'S THIRD NATION is accurate.
-----------

Canada is not Europe.

(Anonymous)
Jun. 30th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
Canada Wins!
You win, Chaz...AGAIN. Lives there a mortal man who can resist your winsome repartee? Anyway, the important thing here is that centuries of discrimination are being reversed. Both my Spanish and English forebears should be happy in their graves. Why the hell can't we get this legislation passed in the "land of the free and the home of the brave"??

--Phil.
grandhighpoobah
Jul. 19th, 2005 04:38 am (UTC)

Well that's good news. (Only 34,000 GLB couples in Canada? I thought there'd be more than that...)

Been a while, Chuck. (Yeah, I can't call you 'Chaz', sorry. ;) Hope things are well by you.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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