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Stephen Harper brings gay marriage back to the table...

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
Parliament to hold vote on future of gay marriage law
Fri Jun 2, 2006 11:44 AM EDT170

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Canadian Parliament will hold a free vote later this year on whether to start the process of scrapping a law that allows gay marriages, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday.

There is no guarantee that legislators would vote in favor, since Harper's Conservatives only control a minority of seats in the House of Commons. Surveys of Parliamentarians suggest most are unwilling to reopen the debate on gay marriage.

The Conservatives, who won the January 23 election, campaigned on a promise to allow legislators a vote on whether to look at the issue again.

Canada became the fourth nation to legalize same-sex marriages when the law -- introduced by the previous Liberal government -- was adopted in late June 2005.

"It will be a free vote and the vote will be in the autumn," Harper told reporters in Montreal.

Harper promised the vote after coming under pressure from hard-line conservative and religious elements inside his party, who strongly oppose the law.

The vote will provide a field day for opposition parties, who will undoubtedly use it as a chance to paint the Conservatives as social extremists who cannot be trusted.

This could cause problems for Harper in the next election campaign -- widely expected some time next year -- as he bids to win enough support to gain a majority. The Conservatives currently hold only 125 of the 308 seats in the Commons.

If legislators approve the idea of addressing same-sex unions, the government would then introduce legislation changing the definition of marriage back to that of a union between a man and a woman.

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