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Canada's Debates Same-Sex Marriage Bill at Final Hurdle in Senate

The debate on legislation to legalise same-sex marriage in Canada continues in the Senate this week, bringing up sensitive issues such as religion, race, and civil rights.
( [email protected] ) Jul 07, 2005 06:41 PM EDT

The debate on legislation to legalise same-sex marriage in Canada continues in the Senate this week, bringing up sensitive issues such as religion, race, and civil rights.

Just last week, Spain became the third nation to legalize same-sex marriage, with Canada likely to be a close fourth. Like the House of Commons, the Senate has extended their session into the summer to finalise a decision over Bill C-38, a controversial bill proposed by Prime Minister Paul Martin that would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Commons approved the bill last week, despite opposition from Conservatives and some members of the Liberal party. The Senate began their debate on the bill last Sunday and approved a second reading by a 43 to 12 vote on Wednesday.

The debate has been heated, with sharp statements from both sides of the issue. Those in opposition to the bill proposed an amendment supporting heterosexual marriage only. The amendment was quickly shot down by supporters of the bill, who likened the struggle for same-sex marriage to the struggle for civil rights for all races.

Senator Anne Cools, who is black, argued that the debate over same-sex marriage is not comparable to the fight for human rights. Cools, who left the Liberal party over the bill, responded that "marriage¡K has never been a right."

At one point, a senator posed the question, "What would Jesus do?" One of the Liberal Senators responded that she believed Jesus would approve the bill.

Despite the opposing views among Senators, the bill is expected to pass in the Liberal-dominated Senate. If it does, the bill would then have to be signed by the Governor General before becoming law.

Most provinces already allow same-sex marriage - only Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut do not. Alberta recently announced that it will seek ways to circumvent the law if it is passed.