Klein drops fight against same-sex marriage

Alberta will allow same-sex marriages but will move to protect those who oppose it on social, cultural or religious grounds, Premier Ralph Klein says.

Alberta will allow same-sex marriages but will move to protect those who oppose it on social, cultural or religious grounds, Premier Ralph Klein says.

Klein said Tuesday that the province will comply with the federal legislation which is making its way through the Senate, and issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, "much to our chagrin."

Some Conservative members of the Alberta legislature had debated ways of not following the legislation, which passed in Parliament at the end of June, including only sanctioning civil unions and leaving marriage solely to religious institutions.

But Klein says the province will abandon a fight it now admits it can't win and will focus its attention on protecting critics of same-sex marriage.

"Cultural beliefs or values, whether religious or non-religious, will be free to express opposition to the change to the traditional definition of marriage and will not be required to advocate, teach or promote about marriage in a way that conflicts with their beliefs," he said.

The provincial legislation would mean religious leaders or marriage commissioners wouldn't have to perform same-sex marriages if they didn't want to, Klein said.

Alberta was one of only two provinces forbidding same-sex marriages before the federal legislation was passed.