Stephen Harper admitted that equal marriage rights are permanent following the defeat of a motion to re-open debate failed by a margin of 52 votes. Six cabinet ministers, including Peter MacKay, voted against the Conservative motion.
“I don’t see reopening the issue in the future,” he told reporters after the vote.
Meanwhile, Canadians have witnessed growing support for gays and lesbians, says Laurie Arron of Canadians for Equal Marriage (CEM).
“We are heartened that the Canadian values of inclusion, equality and respect for difference has shown themselves stronger than ever.”
In 1999, then-justice minister Anne McLellan introduced a bill giving gays and lesbians civil unions, while reserving the term “marriage” for heteros. It passed with overwhelming support from the Liberal, Conservative and Reform caucuses. In 2003, Harper brought forward a motion “re-affirming” that marriage is between a man and a woman; that motion failed by a scant five votes.
When gay marriage was made Canadian law last year, the bill passed by a margin of 25 votes. But Thursday’s vote saw that gap grow to 123-175.
Canada is “the envy of the world,” Arron said, before reflecting on his hopes for a more tolerant country.
“In the not to distant future, we will look back and wonder how this was an issue at all. We will be proud that Canada chose to continue its tradition of inclusion and respect for diversity and refused to turn back the clock on equality. And, hopefully, one day, the idea that someone would hide their sexual orientation or their gender identity will make no sense at all. We look forward to that day.”
SOUND BITE: To listen to the full text of the speech Laurie Arron of CEM gave following the vote, click here.