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SAME-SEX MARRIAGES IN CANADA

2005-JUN-15 to JUN-28

Bill C-38 "Civil Marriage Act" is passed by the House of Commons

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Sponsored link.


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Earlier developments are described in another essay

In this essay, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage." "MP" means Member of Parliament.

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Overview:

2005-JUN-15, 87% of Canadians lived in a province or territory which has already made SSM available to same-sex couples as a result of court rulings. On JUN-23, SSMs were legalized in in New Brunswick. This meant that about 10% of the Canadian population live in jurisdictions where there is no access to SSM by the end of June.

By 2005-JUN-28, the bill had been reviewed by a House committee, and was being returned to the House for the third reading and final vote. In an extended spring session, on JUN-28, the House passed the bill by a vote of 158 to 133. It now proceeds to the Senate.

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Events:

bullet2005-JUN-16: Parliament scheduled to debate C-38: The bill returned from committee for the third reading and final vote. There were rumors that the Conservative Party will introduce over a dozen amendments to the bill, in an apparent filibustering effort to delay voting so that Parliament will recess on JUN-23 before having a chance to vote on the main bill. According to some news services, the Conservative Party offered to speed passage of an unrelated budget bill that they hate with a vengeance, if they can get the ruling Liberal party to abandon the vote on C-38 until the fall. Their apparent rationale is that the public's mood might reverse itself and become opposed to SSM. The budget bill that they offered to support contained funding for items that the Conservative party strenuously oppose: more money for affordable housing, increased funding for post-secondary education, increased transit funding, etc.

Brian Rushfeldt of Canada Family Action Coalition, a group which opposes SSM allegedly said: "I've had great concern hearing Paul Martin making a statement claiming this is not going to get passed because of Harper and the Conservatives.  The fact that Paul Martin has not been honest even to the point of driving one member out of the party is proof he's not to be trusted."

NDP MP Libby Davies, a New Democratic Party member of parliament who supports marriage equality, said: "The Prime Minister does not have to duck and hide on this one. His responsibility is not to Liberal MPs who want to act like the Conservatives. His responsibility is to human rights."

According to LifeSiteNews, a Fundamentalist Christian group, C-38 has returned from the committee with an amendment that states: "For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom." 1
bullet2005-JUN-18: Cybersquatters attack supporters of SSM: The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the Defend Marriage Coalition -- a group which is trying to prevent same-sex couples from marrying -- has registered at least 50 web sites with URLs in the names of various Members of Parliament who support bill C-38. One is at http://www.donboudria.ca/ It features a photograph of Boudria (Liberal - Glengarry/Prescott/Russell, ON), his various addresses, Email address, contact numbers, etc, the question "Can you trust Don Boudria?" and the statement that he "Supports the anti-marriage Bill C-38." The agency which regulates the .ca domain names, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, considers personal names to be fair use by anyone -- first come, first serve. Complaints or congratulations can be sent to ContactUs@defendMarriage.ca 9
bullet2005-JUN-19: Priest verbally attacks Prime Minister Martin: Father Francis Geremia, a Roman Catholic priest in Paul Martin's riding, delivered a sermon opposing same-sex marriage during a wedding mass. He accused Martin of being a Satanist, by saying: "He has to be very careful because he might even lose his riding....I pray that he will lose his riding. Because you cannot have two faces: either you serve God or you serve the devil." 2
bullet2005-JUN-20: Prime Minister Martin explains his religious views towards SSM: In an interview on CKNW radio in Vancouver BC, Martin explained: "I'm actually a very strong Roman Catholic. But I'm also a legislator, and I believe that clearly what I've got to do is take the widest perspective possible. And that perspective leads me to believe that the Charter of Rights...is a fundamental pillar of our democracy....I don't believe that a prime minister can cherry-pick among those rights and say, 'Oh, well I'll support this right but I won't support that right.' You can't do that. What you've got to do is say, 'rights are rights.' " 2
bullet2005-JUN-20: Liberals ask the House of Commons to extend its current session: Government House leader, Tony Valeri, gave notice that he will introduce a motion to extend the sitting hours of the House of Commons. If passed, it would extend the session past JUN-23 in order to have the MPs vote on an amendment to the federal budget (Bill C-48) and the SSM legislation (Bill C-38). Valeri said: "We'd stay as long as it takes to get those two pieces of legislation through." Hours would be extended to midnight. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has said he would "sit here all summer" if that is needed to pass the same-sex marriage bill. 3
bullet2005-JUN-23: Political parties play games in Parliament: The Conservative Party complained that the Liberals are holding up passage of the main budget, which contains a new financial sharing arrangement with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, in order to force the Conservatives to vote quickly on an amendment to that budget, Bill C-48. The Liberals complained that the Conservative Party was dragging their heels on Bills C-48 and C-38. The Conservatives are complaining about the Liberals not being able to properly schedule voting on bills. Meanwhile a Conservative MP filibustered for nearly two hours, apparently trying to delay voting on a motion to extend the parliamentary session. Toronto MP Roy Cullen said: "I've talked to a lot of Canadians; they say they just turn off their television; they're so sickened by the childishness that's going on here." 4
bullet2005-JUN-23: Vote to be taken on bill C-38: Parliament passed a motion by a vote of 191 to 108 to extend its session into the summer in order to consider a budget amendment (C-48) and SSM bill (C-38). The Liberals then invoked a rare procedural tactic limit debate on C-48 to one hour. The bill passed. Gary Goodyear (Conservative-Cambridge) called the closure move "the end of democracy." The way is now clear to debate C-38. 5
bullet2005-JUN-27: Anti-SSM rally:  A rally in support of restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples was scheduled for 11:00 AM in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, ON. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada comments: "Please note that this may be the last opportunity to join with others and rally in support of marriage in Ottawa before Bill C-38 has its third and final reading in the House of Commons and MPs are called to vote." 6 The demonstration may have been covered in the media, but we have been unable to find mention of it in newspapers or on TV.
bullet2005-JUN-27: Conservative leader says some MPs should not be allowed to vote: In a most unusual attack on the legitimacy of fellow members of parliament, on the constitution and and on the election process itself, Stephen Harper suggested that MPs representing the Bloc Québécois [BQ] party should not be allowed to vote on bill C-38. This is because that party hopes to eventually remove Quebec from Canada. Prime Minister Paul Martin rebuked Harper, saying that Bloc MPs "...have the right to speak in the House of Commons, and they have the right to vote and their votes count as much as any other Member of Parliament. That is the essence of the Canadian democracy, and that is the reason Canada will stay united." The Toronto Star commented: "In recent months, the Conservatives have consistently allied with the BQ in a fruitless effort to bring down Martin's government. But Harper's party is miffed that the Bloc joined with the Liberals last week in a surprise procedural move that allowed the government to pass a $4.5 billion budget bill." 7
bullet2005-JUN-27: Debate on C-38 continues: All four parties approved an amendment that gives additional protection to the charitable status of religious organizations that elect to discriminate against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation. Liberal MPs noted that courts have already approved SSM in almost all provinces; this C-38 will simply make the right to enter into a SSM uniform across Canada. Joy Smith, a Conservative Party member from Manitoba broke down and cried in the House of Commons. She said that she wanted same-sex couples to be refused the right to marry in the future because of her daughter. She said that if her daughter: "...decides one day to get married, she knows what that meaning will be -- between a man and a woman...She will have that choice. It will not go away in the dark of night at the stroke of a pen."
bullet2005-JUN-27: MPs reject amendments and decide to limit debate on C-38: By an overwhelming majority, Members of Parliament decided to limit further debate on C-38 to a total of nine hours. The bill had reached "report stage." Members were then free to offer amendments to the bill. Six were offered. All were rejected:
bulletDeletion of clause 1; rejected 163 to 109.
bulletDeletion of clause 2; rejected 152 to 121.
bulletDeletion of clause 7; rejected 169 to 103.
bulletDeletion of clause 15; rejected 169 to 102.
bulletAmendment of clause 3.1; rejected 169 to 102.
bulletAmendment of clause 3.1; rejected 169 to 102.

The House finally voted to accept C-38 at the report stage by a vote of 154 to 124. 11

bullet2005-JUN-28 @9 PM ET: Bill C-38 passes House: Members of Parliament passed bill C-38 by a vote of 158 to 133. Thirty-two Liberal MPs, 5 from the Bloc Québécois, one New Democratic Party MP, and two independents voted against the bill. Three members of the Conservative Party voted in favor of the bill. 8

Prime Minister Paul Martin said: "(This) is about the Charter of Rights. We are a nation of minorities. 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 tonight is all about." 12

Joe Comuzzi, the minister responsible for Northern Ontario, resigned from the cabinet so that he would be free to vote against the bill. He explained that "In 2004, during the election, I promised faithfully to the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North, that I would defend the [historical] definition of marriage."

The New Democratic Party regards this bill as a matter of fundamental human rights; Leader Jack Layton issued a directive to all NDP MPs to vote in favor. Bev Desjarlais, the critic for foreign aid and transport voted against the bill. Layton removed Desjarlais' portfolio; she is now a backbencher.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate for a final vote. The Conservative Senators are preparing at least one amendment. If any amendments are passed by the Senate, then the bill would have to return to the House of Commons. Since the House will have adjourned for the summer, an amendment would delay final passage of the bill until the Fall. The Liberal party currently has a large majority in the Senate. The chances of the Senate approving an amendment are slim, but finite. Most commentators have predicted that the Senate will pass the bill unmodified and that the bill will receive royal assent during July.

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Related essays in this section:

bullet

Later developments: C-38 is considered by the Senate

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Reactions to the passage of C-38 in the House of Commons

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Religious pressure on MPs by the Roman Catholic Church

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. LifeSiteNews.com - Friday June 17, 2005.
  2. Alexander Panetta, "Priest in PM's riding praying against him," Canoe network, 2005-JUN-20, at: http://cnews.canoe.ca/
  3. "Liberals want to extend Parliament," CBC News, 2005-JUN-20, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
  4. Les Whittington & Sean Gordon, "No end to 'horrible' session?," The Toronto Star, 2005-JUN-23, Page A6.
  5. Brian Laghi, et al., "Liberal outmanoeuvre Tories to pass budget bill," Globe and Mail, 2005-JUN-24.
  6. "Defending marriage," Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, at: http://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/
  7. Les Whittington & Sean Gordon, "Harper slams Bloc for same-sex support," Toronto Star, 2005-JUN-28, Page A11.
  8. "Canada's Liberal Government Passes Same-Sex 'Marriage' Bill C-38. Becomes third nation in the world to legalize same-sex 'marriage'," LifeSiteNews, 2005-JUN-28, at: http://www.lifesite.net/ [Actually, the title of this report is in error; the House of Commons has passed the bill, but it is not law unless and until the Senate also passes it.]
  9. Rob Shaw, " 'Cybersquatters' play virtual politics with same-sex marriage," The Globe and Mail, 2005-JUN-18, at: http://www.workopolis.com/
  10. "Same-sex marriage law passes 158-133," CBC News, 2005-JUN-29, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
  11. "Live blogging C-38 at Report Stage," Western Standard, 2005-JUN-27, at: http://westernstandard.blogs.com/
  12. Alexander Panetta, "Canada approves same-sex marriage," Canadian Press, 2005-JUN-28, at: http://www.canada.com/

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-JUL-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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