.- The Supreme Court of Canada has announced that it will render its decision on the constitutionality of the federal government’s same-sex marriage bill Dec. 9.
The federal government had referred the bill to the Supreme Court in July 2003. The court only held its hearings at the beginning of October 2004.
Conservative and pro-family groups are surprised by the news. In prior reports, advocacy groups and government officials had said the decision was not expected before the spring.
While a positive decision by the court does not make the proposed bill a law, conservative groups fear that members of Parliament will use the court decision to push the bill through rather than engage in House debate.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has said that the issue would be put to a free vote in the House.
A recent private member’s bill, asking the House to vote on whether marriage as the union of one man and one woman is constitutional, was quashed by a committee last week and not allowed to proceed to a vote.