HOMOSEXUAL (SAME-SEX) MARRIAGES IN CANADA
2004-September to October-04
Manitoba and Nova Scotia legalize same-sex marriage
||"I want to marry the person I love." A sign at a demonstration on
Parliament Hill on 2004-MAR.
||"...preserving the heterosexual understanding of
marriage is an important public policy decision that benefits all of
society..." Focus on the Family (Canada)
the Ontario Court of Appeal determined that the federal marriage act
was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's
constitution. They ordered the Government of Ontario to start issuing
marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. This was the
ruling that made marriage available
to all adult couples, both opposite-sex and same-sex, but only within the
province of Ontario. On 2003-JUN-17, the federal government
to create legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) across
Canada. They sent the proposed legislation and some questions in the form of a
reference to the Supreme Court of Canada for a non-binding ruling.
By the middle of 2004-SEP, the territory of Yukon, and the provinces of
British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec had all legalized SSM within their
jurisdictions. Lawsuits were underway in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. By 2004-SEP, about 80% of
same-sex couples in the country were able to marry without leaving their
province or territory of residence.
||2004-SEP-16: Manitoba: Court OK's
same-sex marriage: As expected, Justice Douglas Yard declared the
marriage act in Manitoba to be unconstitutional. According to the
CanWest News Service, this is the first case where the Federal
Government "...has not opposed or asked for an adjournment of a
same-sex marriage lawsuit." He wrote: "The cumulative effect and
the overwhelming effect of that judicial authority is to the effect that
the traditional definition of marriage is no longer constitutionally
valid in view of the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
This brings to five the political jurisdictions in Canada in which
"marriage" has been expanded to include same-sex couples. Courts in
British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Yukon had previously legalized
Jim Uttley, writing for the ASSIST News
Service, stated: "There is sure to be reaction from churches and
Christian organizations to this ruling. It will be interesting to see
what kind of response will be given. This past summer, Canada's
parliament passed a bill which makes speaking out against homosexuality
a criminal offense." Actually, such speech is not a criminal offense if:
||It is spoken during a private conversation, or
||If the person can prove that the statement were true or,
||As the law says: if, "in good faith, he expressed or attempted to establish by
argument an opinion on a religious subject, " or
||If the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, and if,
on reasonable grounds, the person believed them to be true. 1,2
||2004-SEP-24: Nova Scotia: Supreme Court Justice Heather
Robertson legalizes same-sex marriage: Justice Robertson handed down
a decision in the morning of SEP-24 which upheld
the marriage of the lesbian couple, Kim Vance and Samantha Meehan. They
had previously registered their relationship in Nova Scotia. They went
to Ontario to marry, and returned to continue living in Nova Scotia.
Justice Robertson declared that "civil marriage between two persons
of the same sex is therefore lawful and valid."
||2004-SEP-26: New Brunswick: Appeal for help: New Brunswick Justice
Minister Brad Green refused to follow the lead of New Brunswick by allowing SSM
in his province. Gay marriage advocate Art Vautour-Toole issued an appeal for
help in mounting a campaign for SSM. He and his partner, Wayne Toole are
planning to join with a lesbian couple "A & T" in launching a lawsuit against
||2004-SEP: Saskatchewan: Exact date unknown. To date, no province in
Canada has operated pro-actively by granting same-sex couples marriage rights.
However, the Justice Minister of Saskatchewan has indicated that he would not
resist if a same-sex couple steps forward with a case in that province. The
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada mentioned on their web site that "A
lesbian couple has challenged the definition of marriage in Saskatchewan."
CFRA radio stated on SEP-30 that: "Two same-sex couples are going to
court to challenge Saskatchewan's marriage laws. Lawyers will ask that the
province's Marriage Act and the common-law definition of marriage are
unconstitutional because they deny same-sex couples a marriage licence or a
civil marriage ceremony. Three other same-sex couples may also enter the
challenge." 3 More details|
||2004-SEP: Manitoba: Negative reaction from
some marriage commissioners: Some marriage commissioners in Manitoba
objected to a letter that they received from the Vital Statistics office
which ordered them to return their Certificates of Registration if they have
problems marrying same-sex couples.
Caroline Kaus of Vital Statistics is reported as writing: "When we
appoint you, we assure all Manitobans will be treated in an equitable
manner. As such, we want to make sure you're aware of that immediately."
||Gil Dube runs a trucking company and is
also an authorized marriage commissioner. He said: "I will not
perform a same-sex marriage, so based on that, I am left with no choice
but to resign, back out or whatever."
||Leo Tolledo follows a religion which does not approve of same-sex
marriage. He indicated that he will try to remain a commissioner and
avoid conflict. He said: "If it's same-sex, then right now probably
I'm going to say I'm not available right now, or it conflicts with my
The Canadian Broadcasting Commission reports that eleven
commissioners have resigned in British Columbia since same-sex marriages
became legal. It is not clear from the report whether all resigned over the
same-sex marriage issue. 6
||2004-OCT-01: Canada: Focus on the Family
Canada calls for prayer: In their Family Facts newsletter for
2004-OCT-01, Focus mentioned that the Evangelical Fellowship of
Canada "calls all Christians to prayer during Sunday worship services"
||2004-OCT-2: Ottawa: Leaked federal cabinet
document: Liberal Party will stall same-sex marriage: The Toronto Star
newspaper headlined the contents of a leaked federal cabinet document about
SSM. The document reveales that the Liberal Party expects that the Supreme
Court of Canada will deliver a quick decision on the federal reference, but
that the Liberals will delay introducing a bill to Parliament for a year. An
actual vote could be delayed until 2006. Their reluctance is understandable.
There are probably many more voters in Canada who oppose equal rights for
same-sex couples as there are same-sex couples. So introduction, debate, and
passage of the bill will likely lose the governing Liberal party some votes.
Also, the Liberal is in a minority position; the other parties combined have
more members than do the Liberals. Under the Canadian parliamentary system,
if a government bill fails, an election is normally called. |
The document states: "As the issue of marriage between same-sex couples
carries with it a certain polarization, it is likely that the media will
continue to highlight every example of diverging opinions within the Liberal
caucus and in cabinet over what approach to adopt."
The document contains the text of the proposed new marriage law. It would
read: "access to marriage for civil purposes should be extended to
couples of the same sex....officials of religious groups are free to refuse
to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious
||2004-OCT-4: Former justice minister takes
stand favoring SSM: The previous justice minister, Martin Cauchon,
delivered a speech at Harvard University on OCT-4. He called for political
leaders to tackle divisive social issues like SSM. He said that he had no
personal difficulties with extending civil marriage to include same-sex
couples. But he said that promoting elementary rights -- like the right to
marry -- is a joint responsibility of the courts, public, and Parliament. He
said: "Politicians should not run for the job if they are not prepared to
face up to social challenges, and work them through, respectfully, with
citizens. And then, at the end of the day, take a clear stand. Defend it.,
Move it forward. Fight for justice is what makes the job worthwhile.
Politicians with an eye on re-election have lots of motivation to sidestep
their duty to establish and preserve fundamental freedoms and to just leave
it to the courts. Political leadership is important because not fulfilling
your duty ultimately undermines democracy, and contributes to cynicism about
politics and politicians." He rejected the suggestion that same-sex
couples only be allowed to enter into civil unions. He said: "separate
but equal doesn't exist in our country." 5|Site navigation:
Jim Uttley, "Manitoba court rules in favor of gay marriage. Province
becomes fourth provincial jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage,"
ASSIST News Service, 2004-SEP-16, at:
Michelle Macafee, "Manitoba legalizes same-sex marriages,"
Canoe, 2003-SEP-16, at:
Josh Pringle, "Same-sex marriage challenge in Saskatchewan," CFRA,
Tonda MacCharles, "Same-sex bill stalled," The Toronto Star,
2004-OCT-02, Page A1 and A12.
Tonda MacCharles, "Cauchon takes stand on social issues. Ex-minister
backs gay marriage," The Toronto Star, 2004-OCT-4, Page A4.
"Marriage commissioners resign over same-sex weddings," Canadian
Broadcasting Commission, 2004-SEP-22, at:
Copyright © 2004 and 2005 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-MAY-26
Author: B.A. Robinson