Same-sex marriage a 'non-issue'

SANDY NAIMAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

Marilyn Zeldin is sick and tired of the same-sex marriage debate and was happy to see a parliamentary motion to re-open it soundly defeated in the House of Commons yesterday.

"I think we've all moved on and it's a non-issue," said the 49-year-old lesbian, who is a professional dog groomer. "Why Harper is bringing this up now is beyond me and if you can name one gay couple that has had a detrimental affect on his or other MPs' marriages, I want to know."

The Conservative motion was defeated 175-123, ending the emotional, divisive debate.

The question put to MPs had been whether they wanted to see legislation drafted to reinstate the traditional definition of marriage, while respecting the existing marriages of gays and lesbians.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he heard the message and will respect it.

"We made a promise to have a free vote on this issue, we kept that promise, and obviously the vote was decisive and obviously we'll accept the democratic result of the people's representatives," Harper said. "I don't see reopening this question in the future."

Zeldin and her 68-year-old partner of nine years, Lanita Leonard, plan to marry within the year.

"This is a strictly political vote based on a stupid promise Harper made to get re-elected and to get votes," retired schoolteacher Leonard said.

Long-time gay-rights activist Rev. Brent Hawkes of Toronto's Metropolitan Community Church cites recent polls showing that the majority of Canadians, whether for or against same-sex marriage, have tired of the debate and "69% voted against it being re-opened," he said. Hawkes married his partner of 26 years last March.

In the Commons yesterday, some Liberals cheered as prominent Tories voted against the motion, while some Conservatives applauded Liberals who voted for it.

More MPs supported same-sex marriage than in the last vote on the issue, in June 2005, when only three Tories voted in favour of expanding the definition of marriage. Yesterday, 13 were in favour of the status quo, including Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon and International Development Minister Josee Verner.


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