Motion to Block Canada’s Same-sex Marriage Bill Fails

An effort by Conservatives to block Canada’s same-sex marriage bill failed in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Headed by Prime Minister Paul Martin, Canada’s Liberal government proposed Bill C-38 to grant civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. The bill is a response to several court decisions that declared the prohibition of same-sex marriage a violation of equal rights.

Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper introduced a motion to refuse a second reading of Bill C-38. On Tuesday, members of the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois joined the Liberals to gain a 164 to 132 vote against Harper’s motion.

Passage of the motion would have allowed Conservatives to introduce a bill defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, experts of constitutional law commented that any bill excluding same-sex marriage rights would most likely be ruled in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

With the motion against Bill C-38 voted down, a second reading is expected soon. The debate on the controversial issue has already spilled over into the public.

On Saturday, around 15,000 people from throughout Canada gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest the bill and advocate the protection of traditional marriage. The next day, hundreds of people gathered to support same-sex marriage in several rallies throughout Canada.

A poll conducted by Environics Research Group in March showed that Canadians are divided over same-sex marriage, with slightly more than half opposed to the proposed bill. Of those polled, older and foreign-born Canadians leaned toward opposition to the legislation.

Conservatives, the majority of which are against legalizing same-sex marriage, continue to fight, and are expected to push for a spring election, in order to gain control of the government before the bill is voted upon.

“I am committed, when I am elected prime minister… to bring in legislation that will define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said Conservative Leader Harper.

Currently, six provinces and one territory recognize same-sex marriages. The proposed Bill C-38 would legalize same-sex marriage across all of Canada.