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RM Issue #030825

Thousands rally on Parliament Hill against same-sex law proposal
By DIRK MEISSNER Fri, August 22, 2003

Pro-gay marriage protesters Lili Kondo and Stephanie Leclair are surrounded by anti- gay marriage protesters during a demonstration at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Friday. (CP/Chris Wattie)
OTTAWA (CP) - Religious leaders used Parliament Hill as a pulpit of sorts Friday to preach against the Liberal government's proposal to legalize same-sex marriages in Canada.

About 6,000 people from across Ontario and Quebec attended a National Marriage Day rally to protest the government's plan to change legislation to allow homosexual marriages.

The religious leaders and protesters said they were united in delivering the message that God created marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

"In the beginning God created male and female, Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," said a Christian Coalition International placard.

The majority of Canadians believe God created marriage as the union of a man and woman, said Ottawa Pastor Rick Reed.

"He has the patent on it and he has every right to define how it should be lived out," said Reed, of the Metropolitan Bible Church.

Rev. William Oosterman said the Liberal government is "hiding behind the skirts of judges as they make and remake the laws."

Politicians are letting the Supreme Court run the country and Prime Minister Jean Chretien is a "nobody PM," said Oosterman.

A Toronto gay activist said he hoped the protest would be respectful.

"During the recent Parliamentary committee hearings into equal marriage rights, the Catholic Women's League used words like 'pervert, bestiality, deviant, evil, necrophilia and incest' to describe gays," said Ian Taylor.

Rally spokesman Tim Dooling said the goal of the gathering was to stage a silent, peaceful and respectful event.

The protesters sang O'Canada at the start of the rally and participated in numerous prayers that were offered by the leaders of numerous faiths.

Ontario Alliance MP Cheryl Gallant said Canadians don't want any tinkering with marriage laws.

"This is about protecting the institution of marriage," she said. "Our message is simple: marriage is a union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."

She said the same-sex law will become a huge issue in a coming federal election.

Earlier Friday, federal NDP Leader Jack Layton joined some Liberal MPs in calling for a fall vote on same-sex marriage.

A draft version of legislation has been referred to the Supreme Court of Canada by the Liberal government, and no opinion from the court is expected until the new year at the earliest.

"We've been saying for years that Parliament should deal with this question, so the sooner it can be done, the better," Layton said.

"We've been critical of Liberals for waiting for courts on issues like this and we would certainly be supportive if there were to be a vote this fall."

Some backbench Liberal MPs said this week they'd like an autumn vote on the legislation, before the Supreme Court opinion on its constitutionality is delivered.

And Liberal leadership front-runner Paul Martin said he would consider calling an early vote on the bill if he becomes prime minister, likely in February.

Chretien insists Parliament should hear from the high court before putting the legislation to the Commons.




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