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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

'The difference is to the human spirit' 

Canada adopts gay marriage law
Next step is royal assent.
The Senate erupted in a loud cheer as it adopted the Liberal government's Bill C-38, which will give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in courthouses and city halls across the country. The 47-21 vote came after years of court battles and debate that divided families, religious groups and even political allies. Three senators abstained. There are currently 95 sitting senators and 10 vacancies. The final word in the debate came from a Liberal senator who read to the hushed chamber an e-mail from a Yukon constituent. 'You have no idea what a difference it makes to the human spirit to know that you are treated equally under the law,' said Ione Christensen, the 71-year-old senator from Whitehorse.
But even now, some just do not get it.
"Let the country speak at the next federal election," Tory Senator Gerry St. Germain said hours before the bill passed. "Let's not pass this legislation now. Let's wait. Let's make (the election) a referendum on this bill."
Equal rights are NOT a voting issue. Rights are an expression of law, not of opinion.
We can have elections about government policies and government actions, like war or peace, trade, protectionism, immigration, interest rates, wage controls, federalism, etc etc -- these are things over which government has a choice, so it is quite right that Canadians should decide on what policy they want government to follow. But once the courts have declared that the charter mandates equal rights, it is no longer a matter of government choice whether to follow the court decision or not -- the court decision is the law of the land unless the notwithstanding clause is enacted.

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