Prime Minister Paul Martin says today's Supreme Court ruling means his government will proceed with legislation extending marriage to same-sex couples.
Speaking just hours after the court's advisory ruling paved the way for the change, Martin said the new bill will be tabled as soon as Parliament returns after the holiday break in late January.
"We are proceeding because quite simply, we believe in the Charter of Rights and the guarantee it provides to equality," Martin said in a statement read to reporters in Ottawa.
"I do not believe you can have two classes of citizens."
The Supreme Court, in a non-binding unanimous decision, decided that Parliament could proceed with the changes extending marriage to gays and lesbians, and that religious institutions would not be forced to perform same-sex marriages contrary to their beliefs.