Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh Canada!

via the CEM eNewsletter we learn that, once again, the voices of intolerance don't have much public support in Canada.
*December 8, 2006*

/Prime Minister says the issue is settled/

After more than a year of facing the threat that equal marriage would be taken away, we can breathe easy and rejoice: on December 7, 2006 Members of Parliament rejected Stephen Harper’s motion to re-open the divisive equal marriage debate.

The vote wasn’t even close, with the motion being defeated by a vote of 123 to 175. In every single party the percentage of MPs that voted for equality increased. That increase reflects the growing consensus among Canadians that equal marriage is settled. Even in the Conservative caucus, 13 members voted against their own government’s motion, including Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, Treasury Board President John Baird and four other cabinet ministers.

We also note that many MPs who voted against Bill C-38 (last year’s equal marriage bill) now consider the issue settled and voted against re-opening the debate, including Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi, who quit cabinet last year so that he could vote against C-38. In addition, no MPs who voted for Bill C-38 wished to re-open the issue. They all voted against the motion to re-open, including all the Liberal MPs who were Cabinet Ministers when Bill C-38 was passed.

Perhaps most significantly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced after the vote that he now considers the issue settled. The day after the vote, The Globe and Mail’s front-page headline blared “Same-sex marriage file closed for good, PM says”, and Harper was quoted as saying, “I don’t see re-opening this question in the future.” When asked if the government plans to introduce a “defence of religions” act to counter Bill C-38 (as has been rumoured), Harper replied, “The government has no plans at this time.”

Even Justice Minister Vic Toews, one of the government’s staunchest foes of equal marriage, announced he was moving on. “I don’t think there’s any intention of re-opening it,” he said. “There’s been no commitment in that respect and I don’t see any prospects in that respect.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, who voted against Bill C-38 but opposed re-opening the equal marriage debate, said: “For me, this was just a practical matter. It’s been debated in the House. It’s been considered by the provinces, by the courts, and I think it’s time to move on.”

Most MPs, like most Canadians, have come to understand that equal marriage doesn’t harm anyone, it only makes life better for some. They have come to understand that a generous and inclusive definition of marriage actually strengthens the institution. They have come to understand that the only reason to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage is discomfort, resistance to change and moral judgment. And they have learned that voting in favour of equality feels really, really good!!

This is the wording of the motion that was defeated:

/“That this House call on the government to introduce legislation
to restore the traditional definition of marriage without
affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex

Shortly after the vote, Canadians for Equal Marriage held a press conference. We said “This is a bittersweet day, because today does not mark an advance in equality, but rather the defeat of an attack against us. We are happy that we can now avoid years of divisive and difficult debate, but we are weary that for over a year now we’ve had to defend our hard-won inclusion in the fabric of Canadian society.”

Since the courts have ruled, the Harper government’s motion marks the third time in three years, under three successive prime ministers, that the issue of equal marriage has been debated and voted on.


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