The gay marriage debate reached Canada’s Supreme Court last week as the federal government sought advice on whether it should make marriage legal across the nation.

Opponents and supporters of legalised marriage were given the opportunity to speak at the three-day hearing, though the results won’t be revealed until early next year.

The government asked the Supreme Court to concentrate on four points: whether a draft bill allowing gay marriages is within parliament’s authority; whether it is consistent with Canada’s Charter of Rights; whether the charter protects unwilling clergy from having to perform same-sex marriages; and if the present law on opposite-sex marriages is consistent with the charter.

Some religious groups are outraged at the possibility of having to perform same-sex marriages against their beliefs. Janet Buckingham of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada said churches want the court to define protections for clergy unwilling to perform such marriages.

Because it pre-exists the state and because it is fundamental for society, the institution of marriage cannot be modified, whether by the Charter of Rights, the state, or a court of law, a spokesperson for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops told the Boston Herald.

Other opponents of gay marriage in Canada include REAL Women of Canada, Focus on the Family and Alberta premier Ralph Klein.

The United Church of Canada, however, argued that extending marriage rights to gays and lesbians is a victory for human dignity.

Marriage is a benchmark by which Canadian society names the everyday development of love and intimacy between a couple, Anne Squire, former moderator of the United Church of Canada, told The Globe And Mail.

We are very confident that the Supreme Court will confirm what many judges have said across the country, Laurie Arron of gay advocacy group ?ale Canada told The Canadian Press.

Six of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories already allow gay marriage. Canada would be the third nation to legalise same-sex marriage after the Netherlands and Belgium.

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