Marriage should mean "the lawful union of two persons"--not one man and one woman--to reflect growing public acceptance of gays and lesbians, Canada's attorney general argued in a document
submitted Thursday to the Supreme Court of Canada. Draft legislation allowing marriage of same-sex couples is "a progressive approach" that recognizes huge shifts in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians, the 20-page legal brief said. The governing Liberals have asked the high court to assess the draft bill to ensure that it's within federal jurisdiction and upholds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The high court is also asked to assess, at a hearing slated for April 16, whether religious freedoms guaranteed under the charter protect church groups from having to perform same-sex weddings against their will.
Justices from the high court will hear from parties for and against same-sex marriage before determining whether the draft bill respects equality and other constitutional rights. The top courts in Ontario and British Columbia struck down the traditional definition of marriage definition last spring. Those courts ruled that excluding same-sex couples violates equality rights. Rather than continue to appeal such judgments, Ottawa drafted the bill to allow gay and lesbian weddings.