'Several centuries ago, it would have been understood that marriage be available only to opposite-sex couples. The recognition of same-sex marriage in several Canadian jurisdictions as well as two European countries belies the assertion that the same is true today.' - Supreme Court of Canada December 9, 2004
Shocking, scared, running for the hills? No, Canadians really do support gay marriage. This is not a surprise to me or to most Canadians.
Friday evening, December 17, Canada's biggest controversial televison mouth piece from Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry expressed his support for gay marriage.
Cherry stated on TSN and reported by Queer Thoughts first, "Why should I care," he said, "is it going to cost me money, no." Cherry is an Anglican and went onto say he didn't think gays should be married in church, "going to a Justice of the Peace was okay."
The Supreme Court of Canada decision gave the "Green Light" to same-sex marriage on December 9, 2004.
The Court said equal marriage 'far from violating the Charter, flows from it.' The choice for Parliament is clear - legislate same-sex marriage across the country or invoke the notwithstanding clause to take away gay Canadians Charter protection.
The Supreme Court's decision stated that the government's proposed equal marriage legislation is within Parliament's exclusive jurisdiction and consistent with the Charter. It also ruled that the Charter protects religious officials from being compelled to perform marriages for same-sex couples. The Court said there is no need to question the decisions of courts in 7 provinces and territories.
An Environics poll released July 1, 2004 showed Canadian public support for gay marriage is at its highest point ever. 57% of Canadians stated they were in favour of equal marriage and 38% opposed. Clearly calls from MPs and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to use the Notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are out of step with Canadian values.
"Around the world, people are realizing that discrimination against lesbian and gay people is just plain wrong. Here in Canada, same-sex couples have been marrying for over a year and a half, and support for equal marriage is higher than it's ever been," said Gilles Marchildon, Executive Director of Egale Canada.
"The Supreme Court gave a green light to the government's proposed equal marriage legislation, reflecting Canadian values and Canadians' commitment to fairness," said Alex Munter, Co-Chair of Canadians for Equal Marriage, an umbrella group fighting for passage of the government's equal marriage legislation. "We are pleased that the government has pledged to act quickly to bring Canada's law into compliance with the Charter. We expect to see legislation introduced as soon as Parliament resumes sitting in January."
The attacks on the proposed legislation by Canada's religious right and Conservatives are unfounded. "Every religious official can choose whether or not to perform marriages for same-sex couples," said Rev. Garth Bulmer, of St. John Anglican Church. "We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling, which confirms that the Charter clearly and strongly protects everyone's religious freedom."
Gay marriage is here to stay for 88% of Canadians. MP's are playing catch up to ensure the law already in place for the vast majority is applied in the rest of the country. There remains only two choices for lawmakers. Pass the same-sex marriage law or use the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter.
"Same-sex couples have the right to get married in B.C. and that will continue to be the case," said BC Attorney General Geoff Plant.