A Canadian battle over whether same-sex
couples should be allowed to marry was at least temporarily settled on 2005-JUL-20, when federal bill C-38 was signed into law. In theory, it allowed same-sex
couples to marry anywhere in Canada. However Prince Edward Island -- arguably
the most conservative of Canada's provinces on matters related to homosexuality -- initially refused to honor the federal law. That
province fell into line during 2005-AUG after it was threatened with a lawsuit by a lesbian couple.
Early in 2006, federal elections returned the Conservative Party to power.
One item on their agenda is to ask Parliament whether they wish to re-open the
SSM debate. By mid-2006, over 10,000 same-sex couples had married in Canada.
Prime Minister Harper held a vote in the House of Commons in the
fall of 2006; parliament decided to not reopen the question. Harper stated that
the topic is now dead, and that he will not open it up for further discussion in
the future. As of mid-2013, -- almost 8 years after SSM became available across
Canada -- he has kept his promise.
An Environics poll in mid-2006 showed an amazing jump in Canadian support for
SSM. It appears that SSM has become an accepted part of the Canadian culture.
2006-JUN-19: Environics Research Group issues poll results:
Their poll indicates that Canadians are increasingly accepting of same-sex
marriage and are overwhelmingly opposed to reopening the matter in Parliament.
Question 1: "One Year Ago, Parliament Voted To Give Same-Sex
Couples Across Canada The Same Right To Civil Marriage As Opposite-Sex
Couples. Should The Conservative Government Re-Open This Issue And Have
Another Vote On This Or Do You Consider This Matter To Be Settled So There
Should Not Be Another Vote?"
62% consider SSM to be a settled matter;
27% want SSM reopened and debated once more in Parliament;
9% had no opinion;
2% did not reply.
Only 38% of Conservative Party voters favored reopening the issue; 52%
Question 2: "In principle, do you strongly agree, somewhat agree
or somewhat disagree or strongly disagree that same-sex couples should have
the same right to civil marriage as opposite-sex couples?"
36% strongly agreed;
23% somewhat agreed; together; a total of 59% agreed
9% somewhat disagreed;
23% strongly disagreed; together; a total of 32% disagreed
6% had no opinion;
2% did not reply.
Among Conservative Party voters, 48% agreed with marriage equality; 47%
Among Liberal Party voters, 67% agreed with marriage equality; 26%
These are truly remarkably large and rapid changes since SSM became available
across Canada in 2005.
Derek Leebosh of Environics said:
"This latest polling demonstrates that overall opposition to equal
marriage has declined since passage of the federal legislation. In addition,
the strength of the opposition that remains has also fallen and this drop
was even more pronounced among Conservative voters, where strong opponents
have fallen from 46% to 35." 2
Laurie Arron, National Coordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage, the agency that commissioned the poll, said:
"These polls confirm what we already knew -- that 2/3 of Canadians
consider the matter settled and want to move on. While equality for minority
groups should never be subject to the tyranny of the majority, it?s
encouraging that so many Canadians, and so many Conservative voters, are
against having another vote."
"With many same-sex couples celebrating their third anniversary this month,
I think it's obvious to Canadians that equal marriage hasn't hurt anyone.
There's simply no reason to re-open this divisive debate." 2
Poll data was collected between 2006-MAY-25 and
JUN-02. The survey sampled the opinion of 2,001 randomly selected Canadian
adults. The margin of error is ~+mn~2.1 percentage points.
2009-MAY Robbins SCE Research poll results:
Between 2009-MAY-28 and JUN-05, Robbins sampled the opinion of 2,230
Canadians. This is considerably larger sampling than most public opinion
pollsters use. As a result, the margin of error is less than ~+mn~2 percentage
Unfortunately, the poll had some of the features of a "push-poll." This is a
type of poll that uses cleverly designed questions to persuade the subject to
respond in a certain way. For example, their question #2 appears to have been
written to obtain a negative response towards same-sex marriages (SSMs). Rather
than ask if the subject favored the right of same-sex couples to marry, it asked
whether Canada should follow a court decision in California. They asked:
"The California state court has upheld a proposition vote to ban same sex
marriages. In your opinion should Canada reverse its current position to allow
same sex marriages-- and ban them as well?"
20% uncertain or refused to answer. 3
Unfortunately, the highly biased nature of the questions make the data
essentially unusable. This is a pity because there are few polls that have been
conducted since 2005 when SSM was made available across the country.
The Forum Research Poll results:
2012-JUL: Seven years after SSM was legalized across Canada, Forum Research sampled 2,694 adults by telephone. The margin of error was ~+mn~1.9 percentage points.
Support for same-sex marriage was highest in Quebec at 72.0%, British Columbia at 70.2% and Ontario at 68.0%. It was lowest in the Atlantic provinces at 65.7%, Manitoba and Saskatchewan at 63.9% and Alberta at 45.6%. The national average was 66.4%. 33.6% disapprove of SSM.
As with polls elsewhere in North America:
In Canada, persons under 45 years-of-age were the most supportive of SSM; Seniors over 64 years-of-age were the least supportive at 54.8%.
Females were more supportive at 72.2%; males less so at 60.5. 4,5
2015-MAR: A Forum Poll found that support had increased slightly: 68% of Canadians approved of same-sex marriage while 24% were opposed. 6
2015-JUN: Immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across that country, Forum Poll conducted a poll among 1,221 randomly selected Canadian adults. They found that 70% approved of marriage equality while 22% disapproved. Quebec has reached 78% approval rating, which is probably the highest of any province or state in North America. The margin of error is ~+mn~2.8 percentage points. 6
Opposite-sex couples in Canada seem to have observed that their own marriages were unaffected by the presence of gay marriages. The only real impacts of marriage equality were:
A significant number of additional loving, committed couples were able to marry in Canada.
Some children had two mothers or two fathers, instead of one mother and one father.
SSM had largely become a non-issue in the country, although many conservative faith groups still refuse to marry same-sex couples. Meanwhile, older teens and young adults have formed the first generation in which the majority have a friend or relative who is from the LGBT community. The former are learning first-hand what sexual orientation is all about; many are displeased with the teachings of their faith group, are choosing to leave, and become religiously unaffiliated.