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On February 1, 2005, Bill C-38 was introduced by Justice minister Irwin Cotler. This bill legalized across Canada marriage between persons of the same sex. About two years earlier, a draft of this bill was released by Martin Cauchon, the Minister of Justice. It was intended as a reference to the Supreme Court, requesting them to rule on whether reserving the right of marriage to heterosexual couples was consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, same-sex civil unions would be an acceptable alternative. At the end of 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same-sex marriage was indeed constitutional. The federal government then had the authority to amend their definition of marriage. Also established was that the protection of freedom of religion gave religious institutions the right not to perform same-sex weddings if they so chose.