Canada Legal News - Gay marriage bill passes 2nd reading
May 4, 2005
marriage bill passes 2nd reading
By Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell
Parliament took another step towards aligning its laws with Canada's "two persons" definition of marriage today when Bill C-38 passed second reading in the House of Commons. The bill, which will force those regions that are still violating Charter rights to end marital discrimination against gays and lesbians, passed by a vote of 163 to 138.
The vote followed delay tactics from Stephen Harper's band of bigots in the Conservative party.
"They are not allowing the bill to go to committee," Liberal MP Don Boudria," said in the House of Commons on May 2. "They are stalling it. We have had everybody speak on the other side. We have had an amendment. Everybody spoke again. Then we went back to the main motion. We know what that is: it is a filibuster. I was the House leader around here for over six years and I know what a filibuster looks like. I have had to put an end to a number of them in the past. I know what they are and the hon. member knows what they are too. It is a filibuster that is not designed to improve the bill; it is a filibuster that is not designed to do anything else but to try to stir up Canadians against a right that has been granted to them by the courts. That is why it is wrong."
Today, Parliament righted that wrong. After passing the 2nd reading, another vote was taken to send Bill C-38 to a legislative committee: 164 voted in favour with 137 against. At the committee stage, the bill will be reviewed prior to being sent back to Parliament for its third and final vote.
Canadians have been successful in restraining faith-based bigotry in the highest courts of 8 regions, and the Supreme Court of Canada also refused to accept an appeal of the all-important landmark Ontario marriage case. With such spectacular losses (and more to come), opponents of equality have turned to Parliament with a flurry of useless techniques like mass-mailings and petitions.
"Petitions are important, but let us be honest here," Stockwell Day said in the House of Commons yesterday. "They are probably one of the least effective ways of affecting government. We all read petitions. When our citizens give us those petitions, we do not have the right to say we are not going to present them. As long as they are in order according to law, we present them in the House. We do not have to agree with the premise of the petition. We send the petitioners a copy of what we did and that makes it look like we are onside with their issue. Let us face it ... I am being very honest and we all have to agree that they are not that effective in turning government, otherwise government would move the way citizens want it to move far more often."
Day also admitted that mass organization of emails or phone calls is also quite useless in influencing MPs, "because we can tell when that is going on".
Thus the organizational capabilities and resources of massive groups, like the Catholic Church (the largest organization promoting bigotry), have been neutralized, wasting millions of dollars and person-years.
Disarmed of any useful strategies or tactics, the Conservative party has turned to misinformation, holding out false hope, and delay. This has had no impact on the vast majority of Canadians who now live in areas that allow same-sex marriage.
But as Immigration Minister Joe Volpe said (Toronto Star, May 4, 2005) of the Conservatives: "The Klan looks like it's still very much alive."
Harper has promised to continue delay tactics to prevent Bill C-38 from reaching a final vote before the government can be brought down. Even if Parliament is dissolved, marriage will continue to be available for gays and lesbians across the country almost everywhere. And if Parliament is unable or unwilling to act, gays and lesbians in the have-not regions will simply complete the task in courts, as couples in New Brunswick are doing right now.