OTTAWA — Same-sex marriages will be recognized as legal in a new law that will re-write the traditional definition of marriage, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien says.
At the same time, the draft bill will protect religious freedom and "the rights of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it," he told reporters yesterday.
Chrétien has been careful not to express his personal opinion, but insiders say he became persuaded of the need to recognize same-sex marriages over the past year as a Commons committee canvassed the country, and three lower courts — Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario — ruled in its favour.
Yesterday, Chrétien said he recognized "there is evolution in the society, and according to the interpretation of the courts, they concluded that these unions should be legal in Canada."
He added it is "important" to him that the bill "make a distinction" between religious marriage and the legal institution of marriage.