Same-sex marriage legal in another Canadian province, Supreme Court holds hearings next week

Yet another Canadian province legalized same-sex marriage, making it the sixth jurisdiction in the last 18 months.

A Nova Scotia court made the decision Sept. 24, stating that the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is unconstitutional. The case had no legal opposition.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Halifax said that it is now up to religious communities to safeguard marriage.

“We must recognize this decision as the end of state support for marriage as we have always known it,” he said in a press release.

“We’ve got more fools on the bench than we thought we had in this country, obviously. Marriage is not a provincial issue,” said Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition. The coalition seeks to restore Judeo-Christians moral principles.

“We’re going to have a next generation of children growing up being taught in public schools things that their parents don’t approve,” he told the Canadian Press.

Nova Scotia followed Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Yukon and Manitoba. All six provincial jurisdictions have married same-sex couples. Ontario was the first to grant a same-sex divorce Sept. 13, less than 18 months after it granted the first same-sex marriage.

The Nova Scotia ruling came two weeks before the Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hold hearings on the federal government’s same-sex marriage reference case at the beginning of October.

The Canadian government submitted a draft bill on same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court in July 2003, seeking its opinion on the bill’s constitutionality.

A record 27 interveners are scheduled to present their arguments before the high court in the reference case Oct. 6-8, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Quebec questions federal jurisdiction

The Quebec Justice Department has submitted a paper to the Supreme Court of Canada, stating that the federal government is outside its jurisdiction to include a provision in the same-sex marriage law that guarantees the right of religious ministers to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

While the recognition of marriage is a federal jurisdiction, the solemnization of marriage is a provincial jurisdiction, it argues.

The federal government said the provision was written into the draft bill as a precaution, but a religious minister’s right to refuse to marry two individuals is already protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Parliament is expected to take a free vote on the bill after the Supreme Court’s decision sometime in the next year.

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