Supporters and opponents of Canada’s same-sex marriage bill staged rallies throughout the weekend, as Members of Parliament prepare to vote on the issue on Tuesday.
Headed by Prime Minister Paul Martin, Canada’s Liberal government has proposed Bill C-38 to grant civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. The bill is a result of several court decisions that declare the prohibition of same-sex marriage a violation of equal rights.
On Saturday, around 15,000 people from throughout Canada gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest the bill and advocate the protection of traditional marriage.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper rallied the crowd, saying, "Undermining the traditional definition of marriage is an assault on the beliefs of all cultural and religious communities who have come to this country."
"I am committed, when I am elected prime minister...to bring in legislation that will define marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered in support of same-sex marriage in several rallies throughout Canada. Leaders from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and several other faiths joined the demonstrations in an effort to show faith-based support for same-sex marriages.
Reverend Brent Hawkes performed the first legal same-sex marriages in Canada at the Metropolitan Community Church, a non-denominational church where Hawkes serves as pastor. During the rallies on Sunday, Hawkes called on supporters to contact Members of Parliament and sign a petition of support for Bill C-38.
"Support is growing all across Canada and all across the faith spectrum," said Hawkes.
Currently, courts have allowed same-sex marriage in six provinces and one territory. The proposed Bill C-38 would legalise same-sex marriage across all of Canada. On Tuesday, Parliament will vote on a motion introduced by Harper to refuse a second reading of the proposed same-sex marriage bill in Parliament.