Canadian Supreme Court to Release Decision on Same-sex Marriage Case

Canada’s Supreme Court will announce next week its landmark decision on whether to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, reported the Canadian Press.

Lower courts have already legalized marriage between gay couples in six of Canada’s ten provinces and one territory.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien referred the gay marriage bill to the country’s Supreme Court which heard opening arguments in the case on Oct. 6.

On Dec. 9, the Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision on whether the bill is within federal jurisdiction, whether same-sex marriage is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether the charter protects the clergy from having to perform marriages against their religious beliefs, and whether the common law definition of marriage -- between one man and one woman -- violates the Charter.

Prime Minister Paul Martin angered gay activists when a fourth question was added under his watch, according to the Canadian Press, which also reported that Canadians are nearly split on the same-sex marriage issue.

However, whatever the Supreme Court decides is advisory and not legally binding.

Martin, who favors gay marriage, has promised a free vote among the Commons on the bill once the Supreme Court has rendered its opinion.

Canadian parliamentary committee on Nov. 26 barred a vote by the elected House of Commons on a bill, authored by conservative Parliament member Rob Moore, which sought to legislate the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

"The Liberals have at every turn tried to deny democratic input on this issue," Moore said. "By shutting down debate, a majority of the members of the committee have denied millions of Canadians a choice on this important issue.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium and Massachusetts. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing gay marriage.