Canadian court OKs gay rites

Nonbinding opinion throws issue into Parliament
Canadian religious groups that oppose gay marriage are trying to make the best of a Supreme Court ruling that paves the way for Canada to become the third nation besides Belgium and the Netherlands to allow nationwide recognition of gay nuptials.

The court’s opinion, in a clarification sought by Prime Minister Paul Martin, said December 8 that the federal government has exclusive authority to define marriage and said a proposed law to allow same-sex marriages is constitutional.

The court, however, also ruled that Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects religious groups from being forced to perform gay weddings against their beliefs.

Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, welcomed the Supreme Court ruling.


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