Hearings on Same-sex 'Marriage' Bill End

The Canadian Supreme Court concluded today the three-day hearing on a legislation to legalize same-sex 'marriage' throughout the country.
( [email protected] ) Oct 08, 2004 08:06 PM EDT

The Supreme Court of Canada concluded Friday three days of hearings on a proposed legislation to legalize same-sex “marriage” across the nation.

The court is not expected to rule on the bill until next year.

At the end of a series of hearings that began Wednesday, the justices had heard from 28 different groups.

Robert Leurer, a lawyer representing the Alberta government, which is against same-sex “marriages,” argued that marriage is social institution.

"Law didn't create marriage, but instead attached legal consequences to marriage," he said.

Both Justices Rosalie Abella and John Major made said the Constitution could be changed according reflect society. Major said that banking laws have been changed since the original language in the 1867 Constitution to accommodate the changing system.

Joining the Alberta government was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops who argued marriage between opposite sexes serves the state’s interest since it has the ability to procreate.

"The state's interest is the sexual relationship because it produces the children," said William Sammon, a lawyer for the group.

Justice Ian Binnie called procreation an “oversimplification” of the roles the institution of marriage plays in society.

Yesterday, opponents of the bill argued that redefining marriage in the Constitution to include same-sex “marriages” is unconstitutional.

Leurer told the court that the legal definition of marriage only refers to a union between a man and a woman and should not be changed.

"We would lack humility if we think as a society we've learned enough over 20 years of Charter jurisprudence to displace in one fell swoop the wisdom accumulated since time immemorial and sweep into the dustbin the core of the historically accepted definition of marriage," he said.

Quebec, a province where same-sex “marriage” is legal, said Thursday that the Parliament does not have the power to define marriage for the whole country, one of the key questions asked by the federal Attorney General.

The previous federal government under prime minister Jean Chrétien chose to propose a new definition of marriage through the bill instead of appealing lower court rulings legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The bill, which does not require marriage to be between members of the opposite sex to be valid, asks whether the proposed law is within the power of the federal Parliament, whether the proposed law constitutional, whether the Charter protect clergy who would refuse to perform same-sex “marriages,”

Irwin Cotler, justice minister for current Prime Minister Paul Martin, later added a fourth question to the bill: Is the existing opposite-sex requirement for marriage consistent with the Charter of Rights?

Some justices question whether the bill is a legal matter or a politically charged issue that should be resolved by the Parliament.

Courts in Canadian provinces and territories Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Yukon, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia have all ruled to legalize same-sex “marriages.”