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Canada's government makes case for same-sex weddings
( 2003-10-31 16:54) (Agencies)

Canada's federal government has asked the Supreme Court to help it legalize gay and lesbian marriages, following the lead of the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia in abolishing restrictions on same-sex weddings.

The governing Liberal Party on Thursday asked the high court to assess a draft bill to ensure it is within federal jurisdiction and upholds Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the country's bill of rights.

Marriage should mean ``the lawful union of two persons'' _ not one man and one woman _ to reflect growing public acceptance of gays and lesbians, said the federal government's brief to the Supreme Court.

The high court was also asked to assess, at a hearing scheduled for next April, whether religious freedoms guaranteed under the Charter protect church groups from having to perform gay weddings against their will.

Justices will hear from those for and against same-sex marriage before deciding whether the draft bill respects equality and other constitutional rights.

A host of religious and family groups are expected to argue that heterosexual marriage should be preserved.

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