Parliament will re-open the gay marriage debate with a free vote this fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters, Jun 2.
The move should come as a surprise to no one. Though gay marriage wasn’t mentioned in the government’s April throne speech, Justice Minister Vic Toews announced the next day that the issue would be debated again “sooner rather than later.”
Harper told reporters last week that he is simply following through on an election promise. (It was the first promise he made from the campaign trail last December.) He plans to introduce a motion asking MPs if they’d like a second chance to vote on the question and possibly repeal the year-old legislation.
Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage last year when it passed Bill C-38, Jul 20. The legalization followed Supreme Court rulings in Ontario, BC and Quebec calling the exclusion of queers from marriage unconstitutional.
“We don’t really see why there needs to be a vote,” NDP leader Jack Layton told the CanWest News Service, Jun 3. “After all, the courts have decided, the Parliament has decided, couples are getting married and the idea that we would go into the House of Commons and roll the clock back on an issue of human rights makes no sense to me.”
“This issue is settled,” agreed Kaj Hasselriis, of Canadians for Equal Marriage. “Canadians know it and even Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers know it. It’s time for Stephen Harper to admit that this issue is settled.”
Harper has yet to set a date for this fall’s vote.