.- Canada’s same-sex marriage bill passed second reading in the House of Commons yesterday, moving it one step closer to becoming law. Members of Parliament voted 164 to 137 to send the legislation to a parliamentary committee for review. The bill now goes to public hearings before third and final reading.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Catholic Student Association are among the many pro-family organizations that have requested to appear before the committee.
The CCCB had issued a statement last month, urging the parliamentary committee to go across the country and to hear from parties representing a cross-section of Canadians. The committee had stated that it would hear from a narrow range of legal witnesses in Ottawa on technical aspects of the bill only.
The Liberal government has announced its intention to pass the bill by June 23. However, the bill may die on the table if a spring election is called. The Conservative Party has threatened to topple the minority Liberal government this month with a no confidence vote.
Some Liberal members of Parliament have admitted that they would approve if the bill dies before a vote.
Despite the bill’s progression in the House of Commons, recent polls have suggested that slightly more than half of Canadians disagree with same-sex marriage.
Last month, about 20,000 Canadians gathered on Parliament Hill to demonstrate against same-sex marriage. Canadians have also been organizing local demonstrations.
More than 2,500 people gathered to demonstrate in Edmonton May 1, reported the Canadian Press. Similar to the Ottawa demonstration, numerous religious and cultural groups were represented.
One of the speakers was Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, who has been called before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for his pastoral letter, published in January, in which he spoke out against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
"The time has come for the government of Canada to use its coercive power to legislate that a couple being married must be a man and a woman," the bishop told the cheering crowd.
"This is not a fascist statement,” he said. “This is not anti-homosexual, but it is the Christian teaching on the primordial status of marriage and family life."
Organizer David Fletcher thanked the Prime Minister for managing “to awaken a nation, a nation that is now filled with righteous anger.”