As several recent court decisions in Canada are pushing the government to allow gays and lesbians the full legal right to marriage, a number of influential politicians and lawmakers are expressing support for the issue. According to a report by Agence France-Presse, Canada's next prime minister and the leaders of three of the four parliamentary opposition parties agreed Tuesday that same-sex couples should have the same right to marriage as heterosexual couples.
There are three contenders vying to take over for Prime Minister Jean Chretien as leader of the governing Liberal Party, and subsequently as prime minister, at the party convention in November: heritage minister Sheila Copps, finance minister John Manley, and former finance minister Paul Martin. Martin, considered the front-runner to win the Liberal leadership and succeed Chretien, said in a letter that the time has come for Parliament to act to legalize same-sex marriage. But while confirming that he supports same-sex civil marriages, Martin added that "no church, synagogue, mosque, or religious institution can be forced to act outside its faith."