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Canada lawmakers vote down revisiting same-sex marriage

[JURIST] Canada’s House of Commons [official website] voted 175 to 123 Thursday against reopening debate on same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. The result effectively upheld Canada’s 2005 law allowing equal marriage rights for same-sex couples [text; JURIST report], passed under the leadership of former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. Canadian Conservative Party [official website] Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] promised repeatedly since coming to power early this year that the measure would be "revisited” [JURIST report], a promise that was fulfilled in a lengthy parliamentary debate [JURIST report] Wednesday before Thursday’s vote.

The "free vote," meaning that members of parliament, including cabinet ministers, were not forced to vote along party lines, appears to have ended practical debate in Canada over same-sex marriage. Harper later told reporters that there is no plan to reopen the question, even if the conservatives won a majority government in the next election. The motion to reopen debate seemed unlikely to pass even before the vote, as projections showed that most Canadian federal lawmakers support same-sex marriage [tracking website]. A January 2006 poll [text, PDF] by Environics Research Group showed that 66 percent of those surveyed were against debate over same-sex marriage being brought back to Parliament. Some ministers who voted against the 2005 law (which passed 158-133) voted this time against reopening debate, calling the matter settled. When the federal law passed in 2005, Canada became the fourth country after the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium to recognize same-sex marriage. A fifth country, South Africa, legalized such unions [JURIST report] last month. Reuters has more. CBC News has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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