Ottawa--By a vote of more than two to one, Canada�s Senate on July 19 approved Bill C-38, expanding same-sex marriage throughout the nation.
The bill was set to become law once it receives �royal assent,� possibly the same day. For this, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson or her deputy signs the bill on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. No Canadian bill has ever been denied royal assent.
With it, Canada becomes the fourth nation to allow same-sex marriage nationwide, after Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. All but four provinces and territories had already allowed it following court rulings, and many U.S. lesbian and gay couples have married there. However, most U.S. states may not yet recognize those marriages.
The marriage bill passed the House of Commons on June 28 by a narrower margin, 158 to 133. Some members of the ruling Liberal Party broke ranks to vote their consciences against the measure.
However, the Senate, which is made up of appointed members, is far more solidly Liberal, and passage in that chamber was viewed as a foregone conclusion.
The Senate voted 4721 to approve the bill in a night vote.
Conservative legislators tried to amend the bill to define traditional marriage as the union of one man and one woman and civil marriage as the union of two people, but the attempt was easily brushed aside.
Had the bill been amended, it would have gone back to the House of Commons, which would have delayed final approval until the fall, possibly after an election.
�You have no idea what a difference it makes to the human spirit to know that you are treated equally under the law,� Senator Ione Christensen said, reading a letter from a constituent in the Yukon, according to CTV.
Opponents of the bill were predictably histrionic in their predictions of doom for the nation.
Sen. Gerry St. Germain of British Columbia argued that the courts were ripping apart the moral fabric of the nation.
�If we don�t stop this . . . I know what the next steps are. Euthanasia. Decriminalization of marijuana,� CBC News� quoted him saying.
However, Sen. Nancy Ruth did not share his misgivings as she danced in Parliament.
�There are some reasons to dance tonight and the whole country should be dancing,� she said.
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