A Conservative amendment to the Liberal bill to redefine marriage, which would have stopped bill C-38 in its tracks, has been defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 132-164.

Fully 34 Liberal MPs voted with the opposition Conservatives against the Liberal government’s bill, along with 95 of the 99 Conservative MPs and three Bloc Quebecois MPs.

The vote is probably a good predictor of a second reading vote expected soon. However, the second reading vote may be delayed by a Conservative filibuster, since the Liberals are refusing cross-country hearings on the bill.

While pro-family leaders were pleased with Stephen Harper’s effort to scuttle bill C-38, and to include the normal definition of marriage in legislation, they were disappointed with the wording in Harper’s amendment. They said it muddied the waters by including the divisive issue of civil unions, rather than simply putting forth a defence of traditional marriage.

The amendment read: “This House declines to give second reading to Bill C-38 … since the principle of the bill fails to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all other and fails to recognize and extend to other civil unions, established under the laws of the provinces, the same rights and benefits and obligations as married persons.”

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, commented on the amendment, saying, “The first part of the amendment is just what was necessary, what was expected, what was needed – a rejection of the bill, since it did not define marriage properly. However, Harper needlessly went on to totally offend a large portion of the country and alienate many of his supporters with an add-on devaluing marriage by opening to any civil unions all the benefits and rights of married couples.” was informed that certain non-Conservative MPs declined to vote for the amendment because of its support for civil unions and others because it was a partisan proposal. Those MPs will add to the number voting against the bill at second and third reading.

John Pacheco, the principal organizer of the March for Marriage, which drew 15,000-20,000 people to Parliament Hill, went on CRFA radio in Ottawa to respond to the House vote on the amendment. Pacheco saw the civil unions promotion as creating divisions. “A number of MPs oppose civil unions, most people on the Hill also oppose civil unions,” said Pacheco. “The debate over the whole bill is not about just the word ‘marriage,’ but about the whole institution itself.”