The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday that a federal proposal to legalize same-sex marriage would be constitutional, allowing Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin of the Liberal Party to fulfill his promise to introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court ruling was based on the argument that the traditional definition of marriage as a woman and man arrangement is discriminatory. The Supreme Court did not declare that the traditional definition is illegal, but rather that the Canadian government has the authority to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, the Washington Post reports.
Prime Minister Martin said he will introduce same-sex marriage legislation early in 2005, and that he believes it will pass, according to the Globe and Mail. Although the vote in Parliament is expected to be a close one, courts in six of Canada’s 10 provinces have already upheld same-sex unions, with several other court challenges currently underway. In fact, many same-sex couples have already married in the country following lower court rulings in some of Canada’s most heavily populated provinces, according to the Washington Post.
Last month, the United States Supreme Court let stand a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Belgium and the Netherlands are the only countries that have adopted national laws, according to the Associated Press.