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Canadian Lawmakers Approve Same-Sex Civil Unions

Canada's House of Commons has approved a bill legalizing same-sex unions, after most of the nation's provinces agreed to the unions.

Lawmakers voted 158-to-133 Tuesday to pass the bill, which had been drafted by the Liberal party of Prime Minister Paul Martin. It is expected to win final approval from the Senate in the coming days.

Mr. Martin praised the vote, saying it was a step forward for human rights in the nation.

Religious groups have rejected the measure, saying it will damage traditional families.

Officials say the measure will only apply to civil unions, and religious groups will not be forced to perform such marriages.

Belgium and the Netherlands have also legalized same-sex unions.