In a surprising move, the Canadian Council for the Arts, a prominent arts organization, has endorsed a new bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Canada.
“We have no choice but to be consistent in our advocacy on this issue,” said David Smith, executive director of the council, which has been advocating for marriage equality in the country for several years.
In the past, the council has been pushing for the legalization of same-day marriage, the union of two married same-gender couples, which is not recognized by Canada’s courts.
The bill that the council supported Tuesday would legalize same-date marriage in Canada, and would also allow couples to get married on a Saturday.
The council has argued that legalizing same-fidelity marriage would increase the number of married same sex couples in Canada and lead to a more equal society.
“The vast majority of Canadian marriages are heterosexual and therefore it’s important to recognize that these are not simply a few couples that are having a romantic wedding, but that these couples are part of a larger family,” Smith said in an interview.
The proposal comes as the Liberal government, which won power last year, is expected to make a series of policy changes that include moving to a single-payer health care system and lowering the age of consent to 16 from 18.
The Liberal government has also proposed a proposal to legalize same sex marriage in Quebec, which would be the first province to legalize it.
A spokesman for the minister of equality, social services and community services, David Erskine-Smith, said the province will begin implementing the proposed legislation in 2018.
“While we welcome the opportunity to expand marriage equality to all Canadians, we have no intention of moving forward until this legislation is fully in place,” Ersnold-Smith said in a statement.
He added that while the government has said it will respect the province’s laws, it will also be respectful of the rights of same sex partners to determine their own marriage.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ersklian-Smith also said that his office has been approached by a number of people, including clergy, who are opposed to same-dated marriage.
“What we’re saying is, if we’re going to have a conversation about this, let’s have a dialogue with the clergy, let the clergy tell us, ‘You’re wrong, it’s the law, we support you,'” he said.
“And that’s what we’ve been doing, and that’s why we’re doing this.”
Erslian-Severance said he will introduce the bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The debate has come as Canada prepares to move into its third year of a new government under Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau is expected at a press conference on Tuesday to declare his cabinet’s mandate, as the country transitions to a new prime minister and new cabinet.
Trudeau, who is a devout Catholic, has said he supports same-marriage, but has also said he believes there are cultural differences between some of Canada’s churches and those of the Catholic Church.