[JURIST] Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler [official profile] Tuesday introduced what he termed "landmark legislation" to legalize same-sex marriage in Canadian federal law. Cotler described the Civil Marriage Act [background from Canada's Department of Justice] as protecting both minority rights and freedom of religion, so "that no religious officials will be forced to perform marriages that are contrary to their beliefs." Opposition Conservative politicians responded that the act did not go far enough in the latter respect, pointing out that the proposed legislation would not protect civil marriage commissioners in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, who have been told they must perform same-sex ceremonies or lose their jobs. As well as extending the legal capacity to marry to same-sex couples, the package of legislation amends eight other federal acts to extend a variety of marital rights to gay couples, including income tax measures, business and investment benefits and the right to divorce. The legislation comes after the Supreme Court of Canada issued an advisory opinion [text] last December, allowing the government to provide for same-sex marriage. CBC News has more.