SAME-SEX MARRIAGES IN CANADA
Positive reactions to the "Civil Marriage Act"
In this essay, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage." "MP" means
Member of Parliament.
||The legislation: On 2005-JUL-20, Bill C-38 was signed into law by Supreme Court Chief Justice
Beverley McLachlin. This task would normally have been performed by Her Excellency, the Right Honorable
Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada. However, she was recovering from
emergency surgery. Protocol allows any justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
The legislation is called: "An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for
marriage for civil purposes."
Creation of this law made SSM available in every
province and territory in Canada. Canada became the fourth country in the
world to legalize same-sex marriages, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
||Marriage licenses in Alberta: On JUL-20, Keenan Carley and Robert
Bradford became the first couple in Alberta, and thus probably the first
couple in Canada, to take advantage of the new law. They arrived at a provincial
registry office less than an hour after the Act was given royal assent. They expect to marry in
early September. There were probably dozens of other same-sex couples who
purchased marriage licenses on that day, but they were believed to be in a
province or territory where SSM was already available due to a court order. 1
Most of the reactions described below were made after C-38
was signed into law. A few were made shortly after bill C-38 was
passed by the House of Commons.
Reactions to the new law:
||Alex Munter, national spokesman for Canadians for Equal
Marriage has been one of the most vocal proponents of same-sex marriage
(SSM). He said: "It is a signal to the world that Canada is an open and
inclusive society that believes in the notion of full citizenship for all."
2 Their web site said:
"Parliament has spoken. It has clearly and loudly proclaimed that
same sex couples are equal in value and equal in law...." This is a
proud and exciting time to be a Canadian. Today, we made history. Today,
we affirmed once again our world-wide reputation as a country that is
open, inclusive and welcoming. In a generation, Canadians will look back
on a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified people were
denied full citizenship, just as we look back on the days when women or
Aboriginal people could not vote or times when Canadian citizens were
interned because of ethnic origin. We will talk about these days and
this battle. We will be proud, as Canadians, that we rejected rejection,
that we ended exclusion, that we said to LGBT 3
people: there are no second-class Canadians, you are full members of the
community, without caveat or exceptions." 4
||Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell are a same-sex couple who initiated a lawsuit that
eventually led to SSM becoming available in Ontario. On JUL-21, they wrote a
short essay on their thoughts about C-38. They wrote, in part:
"After five years of rancorous debate in courtrooms, cabinet rooms
and living rooms across the country, the law was brought into reality
with a simple signature. Following this historic moment, the world did
not stand still to listen to the roar of celebratory fireworks. No
church bells peeled and traffic wasn't snarled by widespread dancing in
the streets. The world simply turned on - and that's the way it should
be. The language of debate over the past five years has reflected that
at the heart of the debate was not just the question of a small wording
change to a marriage law, but more profound questions: 'Are individuals
in same-sex relationships persons under the law or not?'; 'Do we form
families or not?'. "Are we deserving of dignity or not." Finally the
leaders of our country have answered those questions with 'Yes'."
||Egale Canada issued a press release
which stated, in part:
"This is a proud and exciting time to be a Canadian. Today, we made history.
Today, we affirmed once again our world-wide reputation as a country that is
open, inclusive and welcoming."
"You have taken a stand in favor of equality and for that we are truly
grateful. We thank you for your help—writing and visiting MPs, attending public
events, volunteering, donating money to help us make our case. Without the
active engagement of tens of thousands of Canadians, from coast to coast to
coast, this legislation would not have seen the light of day. It’s not often you
can say 'I helped change our country for the better.' But, working together, we
can certainly say with pride that we were all part of making history happen."
"In a generation, Canadians will look back on a time when lesbian, gay,
bisexual and trans-identified people were denied full citizenship, just as we
look back on the days when women or Aboriginal people could not vote or times
when Canadian citizens were interned because of ethnic origin. We will talk
about these days and this battle. We will be proud, as Canadians, that we
rejected rejection, that we ended exclusion, that we said to LGBT people: 'there
are no second-class Canadians, you are full members of the community, without
caveat or exceptions'." 6
Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, said in an editorial:
"....By becoming just the fourth nation in the world to allow homosexuals to
wed, this country has burnished its image as a decent, tolerant nation. The
prejudice against gays and lesbians is one of the oldest there is. For
millennia, they have been shunned as deviants, freaks and outcasts. The
same-sex-marriage bill signals that, officially at least, that long, dark
era of ostracism is over. Homosexuals are at last considered full and equal
members of the human family....To deny homosexuals the blessing of marriage
was not only cruel but stupid. Cruel, because it marked them as lesser
beings, unlikely to form lasting bonds of affection and unworthy of
society's approbation. Gays and lesbians grew up knowing that, however deep
their love for another, they would never be married. Stupid, because it
reinforced the very traits that many in straight society found disturbing:
promiscuity, flamboyance, irresponsibility. As long as society treated them
as queer, many homosexuals threw the taunt back by embracing the party
lifestyle, forming a rich underworld where they could feel accepted and
safe. Now, at last, they can feel that way in the light of day....by opening
the door to its central institution, society is signaling that there is a
secure place for them in the wider world. That is good for homosexual
society, which can grow beyond its stage of adolescent rebellion. It is also
good for society at large, which has a strong interest in lasting unions and
responsible sexual conduct. Of course, prejudice against gays and lesbians
lives on. The approval of same-sex marriage will not banish an age-old
hatred overnight. Married or otherwise, homosexuals will continue to
struggle for understanding and acceptance. But welcoming them into the
compact of marriage is the surest signal a society can send that it no
longer considers them beyond the pale. They are family now. Canada is one of
the first places in the world to say that. Canadians should feel proud."
Related essays on this web site:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Edmonton men first gay couple in Alberta to get marriage
license," CBC News, 2005-JUL-21, at:
Rob Gillies, "Canada 4th Nation to Legalize Gay Marriage," Associated
Press, 2005-JUL-20, at:
- "LGBT" stands for Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual.
"Equal marriage bill proclaimed -- It's the law across Canada,"
Canadians for Equal Marriage, at:
Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell, "It's a quiet thing: equal marriage is law.
Marriage receives senate approval & royal assent," Equal Marriage,
"Equal Marriage Bill Passes Final Hurdle," Press Release, Egale
Canada, 2005-JUL-20, at:
"Canada's enlightened stand on gay marriage," Editorial,
Globe and Mail, 2005-JUL-21,
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-JUL-30
Author: B.A. Robinson