Ontario New Democrats will get full support from their Liberal counterparts to extend same-sex benefits in the province.

Lyn McLeod, leader of the Ontario Liberals, has sent off a passionate appeal to Attorney General Marion Boyd and Premier Bob Rae to get a move on and give family status to gay couples.

“If you will agree to bring legislation forward immediately, I will so everything to facilitate passage,” the leader of the opposition wrote.  She said courts and tribunals have already recognized that same-sex couples are entitled to family benefits.

“I am calling on you to heed this direction, and take action now to recognize the rights of same-sex couples.”

She vowed that if the NDP doesn’t act and the courts haven’t decided the matter, “a future Liberal government will move swiftly to take the action which I am requesting you to take immediately.”

This support is much more than Bob Rae can expect from his very own caucus.  His government is now drawing up plans to allow homosexual “families” the same status as the traditional kind.  The legislation would allow gay couples to adopt children, inherit property and have the same benefits as traditional couples.

But a steady stream of NDP politicians have come out against the proposals which could become law before the legislature breaks in June.  Pat Hayes (Essex-Kent), Allan Pilkey (Oshawa), Anthony Peruzza (Downsview) and Tony Martin (Sault Ste. Marie) have all said they will find it hard to support the proposed legislation.  Many are uncomfortable with the provisions which would allow gay couples to adopt children.

But the New Democrats are beholden to the various homosexual lobby groups and are being pushed on by the courts, the Human Rights Commission and now the provincial Liberal Party.

Kimble Sutherland, NDP member from Oxford, supports the package which would give full rights to gay spouses but says many of his colleagues are wary of the idea.  He was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying that he doubts that “any candidate, other than a few Metro downtown ridings” will brag about extending spousal benefits to homosexual couples as one of the government’s great accomplishments.

Bob Rae has called giving gays spousal benefits and allowing them to adopt children a human rights issue.

“I think there’s a very strong broad commitment in the province to ending discrimination that really can’t be justified under our approach to human rights,” the Toronto Star quoted him as saying.  “My personal feelings are clear.  We should not be discriminating in the law against people because of their sexual orientation.”

Thomas Walkom, a Queen’s Park columnist for the Star, says the Premier shouldn’t be too sure about public support for his initiative.

“In many cases, full same-sex spousal rights will merely give official recognition to practices that already exist,” he wrote.  “But the move will hit symbols still very dear to many people – symbols involving family, procreation and sexual intimacy.”

A measure of the opposition to the government plans can be seen in the petitions circulating calling on the government not to meddle with Canadian families.