Interim StaffA National Post-commissioned COMPASS poll has found that fewer than one in three Canadians wants to redefine marriage to include homosexual partners.

COMPASS found that 63 per cent of Canadians are supportive of maintaining the current definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman, while 31 per cent want to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples. The Canadian poll mirrors the results of a Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press poll taken in the United States in November, which showed that 59 per cent of those polled said they opposed gay “marriages” and only 32 per cent favoured them. Earlier this year, polls in both countries showed a more even split on the question of same-sex “marriage.”

Derek Rogusky, vice-president of family policy with Focus on the Family Canada, told The Interim that as the issue is debated and more people are thinking about the issue of marriage after several recent court decisions, poll results are tending toward maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. “The vast majority do not want to change the definition of marriage,” he said. “As Canadians learn more about marriage, think about what changing the definitions entails, they come more to our side.”

One reason for this, said Rogusky, is that for a long time, the only voice in the marriage debate was the homosexual lobbsy. It framed the debate as one about fairness and equality for homosexuals. “But the issue is not about equality,” he said. “It is about a foundational institution in society.”

When respondents to the COMPASS poll were given the option of a political compromise of legally recognizing same-sex civil unions, 37 per cent favoured civil unions, 30 per cent the traditional definition of marriage and 31 per cent still wanted to grant marriage rights to homosexuals.

Rogusky said that these results reflect the Canadian commitment to equality. He said it is unclear how civil unions would work and that debate is needed over what they would entail before being implemented. He said the federal government should protect the institution of marriage while granting rights and benefits to individuals in dependent relationships, regardless of whether or not they are in a sexual relationship.

Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper backed away from the strong pro-family position of fighting against re-defining marriage he took in the summer. In December, he told the National Post editorial board that he favoured legal recognition of civil unions. Harper said, “The position that most Canadian Alliance MPs have taken, and most Tories have taken, is that we are prepared to recognize in law non-traditional relationships, including gay unions, but that does not mean dismantling the traditional definition or institution of marriage.”