Alberta updating law to recognize validity of same-sex marriages

Alberta will bring in legislation this session to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages, Premier Dave Hancock said Thursday. Hancock said the legislation will change the preamble to the Marriage Act that currently defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman to make it gender neutral.

EDMONTON — Alberta will bring in legislation this session to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages, Premier Dave Hancock said Thursday.

Hancock said the legislation will change the preamble to the Marriage Act that currently defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman to make it gender neutral.

He noted the change is symbolic. The federal government made same-sex marriages legal in 2005.

“The Marriage Act is one that is outdated and there have been concerns raised about it,” Hancock said.

“Some people find it offensive that (the reference) is still in the preamble to the Marriage Act, so it’s appropriate for us to update that.”

The preamble, passed in 2000, currently reads that “marriage between a man and a woman has from time immemorial been firmly grounded in our legal tradition, one that is itself a reflection of long-standing philosophical and religious traditions.”

The decision was made in the Progressive Conservative caucus earlier Thursday. Hancock dismissed suggestions it was a divisive debate.

“It was very good today in caucus in terms of understanding how and why we should move forward on this,” he said.

There will also be changes to allow transgender persons to change their birth certificates without having to first undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Hancock said the change to the Vital Statistics Act will remove barriers for transgender persons to get identification as needed.

“The reality is (that) gender is no longer the identifying characteristic that is used in documents like drivers licences,” he said.

“There are better identification characteristics and technology.

“It’s not important at all as an identifier, and it matters to people (to change it).”

Hancock said the changes will come in before the spring session ends around the middle of May.

Opposition parties and advocates lauded the decision.

“It’s a message to Canada that the old stereotypes of Alberta as being the redneck, roughneck oil executive province have changed,” said Kris Wells, with the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services.

The decision comes days after some Progressive Conservatives and the opposition Wildrose party were criticized for joining forces to defeat a non-binding motion to urge schools to bring in gay-straight alliances.

Such alliances provide peer support to help gay students avoid bullying.

The motion, presented last week by Liberal Kent Hehr, was supported by the Liberals and the NDP.

Some PCs supported the motion, and Hancock has said if he had been there for the vote, he would have supported it as well.

Those who voted against it said that while they were for gay-straight alliances, it was best to let schools come up with their own ways to combat bullying.

That led to criticism the two right-of-centre parties are quick to talk about equality, but reticent to act on it.

Earlier Thursday, about 25 people joined politicians from all parties, including Hancock, on the steps of the legislature to show support for gay-straight alliances.

NDP Leader Brian Mason reminded the crowd it was the Tories and the Wildrose who engineered the motion’s defeat.

“I don’t know if you notice that whirring sound,” said Mason to the crowd, referring to the distant hum of machinery.

“That is the sound of two conservative parties backpedalling as fast as they possibly can.”

Hancock said the decision to amend the Marriage Act was not tied in any way to criticism from the failed motion.

Just Posted

BILD says not the time for higher permit fees in Red Deer

Construction industry is hard hit by slow economy

Bighorn Country telephone town hall for Red Deer area set for Wednesday

Residents can phone in from 6:30-7:30 p.m. to hear about the project or ask questions

Central Alberta real estate sales follow a familiar pattern

2018 house sale numbers mirror 2017 in central Alberta

Red Deer hospital settles dispute, welcomes neonatal nurse

A dispute over nursing levels at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency… Continue reading

Drumheller-Stettler MLA quits UCP

Rick Strankman to sit as Independent

Lucic, Kassian each score twice to power Oilers in 7-2 win over Sabres

EDMONTON — Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian each scored a pair of… Continue reading

Big Valley family gives back to community

Donates $24,560 to Stettler Health Foundation and Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital

Giordano notches three points to lead Flames in 7-1 blowout of Coyotes

CALGARY — Flames captain Mark Giordano celebrated his 800th NHL game in… Continue reading

All-female team out to prove women racers aren’t a gimmick

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every racing series in the world is full… Continue reading

‘Game of Thrones’ final season to debut on April 14

NEW YORK — “Game of Thrones” fans, get ready. HBO announced Sunday… Continue reading

Kylie Jenner loses record for most-liked Instagram post

NEW YORK — Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement is no longer the most-liked… Continue reading

Study shows black bears need a variety of salmon species to be healthy

VANCOUVER — Black bears need access to different species of salmon rather… Continue reading

Trade war’s wounded: Companies improvise to dodge cost hikes

WASHINGTON — In Rochester, New York, a maker of furnaces for semiconductor… Continue reading

Most Read