Thursday, December 15, 2005

Make Up Our Minds, Stephen!

Gay Marriage Repeal Raised In Canadian Election Debate

(Vancouver, British Columbia) Conservative leader Stephen Harper tried to shed his reputation for intolerance by insisting Thursday night he would love his children even if they were gay, adding - for the first time - that he wouldn't use the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.

...

Harper said he would not use the Constitution's controversial notwithstanding clause to eradicate the right to same-sex marriage... But he refused to be pinned down on how he could void the law when the courts have ruled it unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from marrying. (My guess would be that he has no idea how to go about voiding a law that has not only been declared, but acted upon. It's very likely that he is frantically looking for a graceful way to get out of this position -- and he had better find it soon.)

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His opposition to same-sex marriage has been cited by pollsters as a position that has driven moderate voters away from the Tories.

Suppose the CPC do win the election. We can fantasize, right?

Even if -- and that's a big little word right now -- Harper was able to put the question to a "free" vote in Parliament, he can only set that parameter for the CPC. And he can only do it different from the way Martin did it by allowing cabinet members to vote against him if they wish to do so.

He cannot force other party leaders to declare it a free vote. Jack Layton, for example, is not likely to allow his members to vote to cancel the right to same-sex marriage after he backed it so firmly in the first place.

And then there's this little thing called "precedence." He has already stated that he will not nullify the 6000+ same-sex marriages already in existence. I think he anticipated the protests, here, Truth is, he can't nullify them, even if he wanted to do so. They were legal at the time, and laws of imposition cannot be made retroactive. That establishes the precedent. And where there is a precedent, the law allows a continuation.

Marriage is also completely under the jurisdiction of the provinces. The charter might hold sway over the definition, but marriage law is provincial, not federal. And most of the provinces and territories had already legalized same-sex mariage before C-38 was enacted.

So he's stuck.

It'll be interesting to watch how this develops.

3 Comments:

Blogger DazzlinDino said...

I think he was just appealing to those who are in fact against it. It looks good to them on paper without them realising he can't actually change it very easily. In the end, the act will stay, supporters of SSM will be happy, and non-supporters will be happy he tried.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 8:46:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Oh, that sounds plausible! And how devious! 8=D

Sunday, December 18, 2005 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Ian Scott said...

Something that I haven't seen anyone mention is another possibility - which Harper, during the debates on SSM, stated that he would support:

I think what Harper might be saying is that he'd hold a free vote on this, but also propose to change the word "marriage" for gays to "civil unions."

Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:37:00 AM  

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