PM ignores threats of damnation regarding gay marriage law

Brushing aside threats of eternal damnation, Prime Minister Jean Chretien promised Tuesday to push forward with legislation that would allow gays and lesbians to marry.

Chretien appeared unfazed by a warning from a Roman Catholic bishop that his government's same-sex marriage plans will jeopardize his eternal soul.

If he has issues to settle with God, Chretien suggested he won't be resolving them inside the House of Commons.

"I'm a Catholic and I'm praying," the prime minister said, smiling, after a cabinet meeting.

"But I'm the prime minister of Canada. When I'm the prime minister of Canada, I'm acting as a person responsible for the nation.

"And the problem of my religion, I'll deal with it in other circumstances."

He said the government will proceed with its original plan: wait while the Supreme Court examines the draft marriage legislation, then create a bill and put it to a free vote in the House of Commons.

The legislative process is not expected to begin until after Chretien retires next year and perhaps not until after a federal election.