Why do Conservative leader Steven Harper and Prime Minister Paul Martin avoid the real issue of gay marriage? The Prime Minister has hid behind the court decisions to made to date and the Supreme Court's opinion on proposed legislation.
Harper on the other hand is not being honest. He knows "civil unions" are to domain of provincial governments, yet that is one of the amendments he is proposing.
The issue is really about equality. The law as it stands now is unequal in some parts of Canada. Gay couples are being discriminated against in four provinces and two territories.
This kind of situation would not be tolerated in any other circumstance under federal jurisdiction without Parliament acting to ensure Canadians are all equal.
What would the new bill do if passed? It would extend marriage rights to Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and two Northern Territories.
What will happen if the bill is not passed? People living in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon will still have gay marriage. There will be challenges to provincial Supreme Courts in those jurisdictions that don't have gay marriage.
Approximately 88% of the Canadian population lives within a province or territory where gay marriage is already the law. These cases were hard fought for rights, rights that had to be established in the courts because the federal government did not act to protect the rights of gay Canadians.
Newfoundland and Labrador may very well be a "gay marriage province" before the federal Parliament debates its legislation. The issue is currently before that court!
The sky has not fallen in those provinces that allow gay marriage. Straight people are still getting married and religious organizations can not be compelled to perform gay marriages. How could a marriage between two men or two women hurt anyone else?