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Canada won't reopen same-sex marriage debate

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OTTAWA, Canada (CNN) -- Canada's House of Commons Thursday soundly rejected a motion from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reconsider the country's 2005 law allowing gay men and lesbians to marry.

Harper's motion -- which would not have directly repealed the law but called on Parliament to reopen debate on the contentious issue -- was defeated by a vote of 123-175, with most opposition lawmakers and even some members of Harper's Conservative Party voting no.

During the campaign leading up to his election in January, Harper promised to introduce a motion to revisit the same-sex marriage law, which he opposed when it was approved last year. He said at the time that if the motion was defeated, the issue would be settled.

Former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin pushed the law through Parliament after a series of court rulings legalized same-sex marriage across most of the country. More than 12,000 marriage licenses have been issued to gay and lesbian couples in Canada, according to Canadians for Equal Marriage, a group that supports same-sex marriage.

Harper's motion faced an uphill battle because, while Conservatives are the largest party in the House of Commons, they do not hold a majority, and all three of the other parties opposed reopening the same-sex marriage debate.

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