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Conservatives ask to appeal Canadian marriage ruling

Conservatives ask to appeal Canadian marriage ruling

Religious and family groups opposed to same-sex marriage said Monday they will ask Canada's Supreme Court to allow them to appeal a lower court ruling that legalized gay weddings. Angered by the government's plan to let the Ontario court of appeal ruling stand and to propose a new law permitting same-sex marriage, the groups said they would try to intervene. "The federal government has abdicated its leadership role," Derek Rogusky of Focus on the Family, a conservative lobby group, told a news conference. "This matter has far-reaching consequences nationwide, and the nation's highest court should be permitted to consider the fundamental issues." More than 250 couples have obtained marriage licenses in Toronto since the appellate court ruling on June 10, followed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien's announcement a week later that the government would refrain from taking the case to the Supreme Court. The Ontario court ruled that Canada's definition of marriage as being between "a man and a woman" was unconstitutional because it excluded gays and lesbians. It changed the wording to "between two people," which stands as the definition unless the government appeals or rewrites the law. Chretien said a new law is being drafted and will be reviewed by the Supreme Court before going to parliament. He said the law would legalize same-sex marriages while allowing churches to decide what ceremonies they sanctify. In planning to seek intervener status in the case, Focus on the Family and other far-right groups were joined by the Interfaith Coalition on Marriage, a collection of Roman Catholic, evangelical Protestant, and Islamic organizations. "We are dismayed that the Ontario court of appeal would declare heterosexual marriage--an institution which has served humankind for millennia--is unconstitutional," said Bruce Clemenger, head of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. "No court in the world outside of Canada has ruled that the recognition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates human rights norms."

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