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Eat it, Stephen Harper – gay marriage to be a reality across the Great White North

Same-sex marriage passes in Canada’s House. House Blender Cat has been on top of this, throughout the turmoil and ups and downs, and passed this headline along. It’s going country-wide in short order, and the wingnuts are in freak-out mode. Conservative Stephen Harper vows to revisit the issue if he comes to power.

The Liberals’ controversial same-sex marriage legislation has passed final reading the House of Commons, sailing through with a vote of 158 for and 133 against. Supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, the legislation passed easily, making Canada only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex unions.

But the passage of Bill C-38, once again, came with a political price tag for the government. Joe Comuzzi, resigned from the cabinet so he could vote against the bill – an open rebuke of the government legislation. Comuzzi was the minister responsible for Northern Ontario.

Although he was the only cabinet minister to break ranks with Prime Minister Paul Martin over the controversial plan to legalize the marriage of gays and lesbians, it highlighted the divisions within Canada and the within the Liberal party, pitting supporters of equality rights against those who are defending religious freedoms. For Comuzzi, the decision to resign meant putting principles ahead of the privileges of cabinet. “In 2004, during the election, I promised faithfully to the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North, that I would defend the definition of marriage,” he said, explaining his move.

The prime minister said he regretted the decision of a man he called an “old friend,” but accepts it because the government must speak with one voice on same-sex marriage.

The “vote is about the Charter of Rights,” said Martin. “We’re a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don’t cherry-pick rights.”

The government has moved over the last few months to appease critics both within Liberal ranks and among Canadians at large. Amendments were introduced to ensure no religious group or charitable organization is forced to accept same-sex marriage. But in spite of those amendments some groups remain unconvinced.

Same-sex marriage remains one of the most difficult issues ever to confront Canadian politicians. In large part passage of the bill is the reason the parliamentary session was extended for the first time in 17 years.

What wonderful news, as Kate and I celebrate our anniversary (we married in Vancouver) in a couple of days.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding