Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 25, 2003
Gay rights organization fears change in MPs' views
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The same-sex marriage legislation proposed by the federal government is "in serious jeopardy," says the national advocacy organization for gays and lesbians.
"Across the country, MPs are being inundated with phone calls, letters and e-mails opposing equal marriage, said EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere). "Few messages of support for the legislation are being received."
The organization issued an "Urgent action alert" Aug. 12, calling on supporters across Canada to lobby their members of Parliament before the governing Liberal caucus met Aug 19. The government will be under "tremendous pressure" at that meeting said EGALE.
Members of Parliament are almost evenly split on the issue, a survey by EGALE revealed. "Our latest vote count shows things are too close to call, with 114 MPs supporting the legislation, 123 opposing it and 64 on the fence," it said. "We've got to turn the tide soon if we are to avoid disaster."
An Ipsos-Reid poll, conducted between Aug. 5 and Aug. 7, confirms that support for same-sex marriage among Canadians had slipped from 54 per cent in early June to 49 per cent.
However, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and most members of his cabinet continue to support allowing same-sex marriage. He told reporters August 12 that the government is running out of legal alternatives following court decisions in Ontario and B.C. that the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and woman only is unconstitutional.
"We've got to turn the tide soon if we are to avoid disaster."
"That is the reality," he said. "We're faced with an emergency and we dealt with it that way. And it was virtually unanimous in cabinet and we're proceeding that way."
The government is to introduce a "free vote" resolution in the House of Commons that favours opening the door to same-sex marriage across Canada. It is awaiting a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on its validity, which is not expected until late next year.
Many MPs favour "civil unions" for gay and lesbian couples rather than allowing them to marry.
But EGALE said the concept of a separate registry for such couples is "akin to racial segregation."
"Imagine if the federal government prohibited interracial couples or Jewish couples from marrying, but said we'll let you register your partnership instead," it said. "The very idea is offensive and demeaning."