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Northwest Territories

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The Northwest Territories, shown in red at the left, is a sparsely populated area of Canada located to the north of the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The territory extends all the way to the North Pole. Statistics Canada estimates that the 2003 population of the province is about 43,000 persons. This amounts to about 0.13% of the population of Canada. 1 During 2005-MAY, it became the ninth political jurisdiction in Canada in which a lawsuit was initiated to expand marriage to include same-sex couples. The plaintiffs consisted of a single gay couple: Jason Perrino and Colin Snow. At that time, among the thirteen political jurisdictions in Canada, only the provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, along with the Northwest and Nunavut Territories still refused to allow same-sex couples to marry, as of 2005-MAY.

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Events related to same-sex marriage in Northwest Territories:

In 2003, a same-sex couple from the Northwest Territories, Jason Perrino and Colin Snow, attended their union ceremony in a local United Church. Their ceremony was attended by 100 friends and family. They had been refused a marriage license by the territorial government. They applied again for a license in 2005-APR, almost two years after same-sex couples were routinely being married in Ontario. Again, they were refused. 6 They decided to sue.

bullet2005-MAY-20: Perrino and Snow launched a lawsuit against the government of the Northwest Territories over their right to marry. The couple will not speak publicly about their lawsuit. However, in their statement of claims, Perrino says that "Colin and I both wish to legalize our relationship....It is my wish that my stepdaughter will grow up and recognize her dad and I are a real family." Their lawyer, Sheila MacPherson, anticipates a victory for her clients. She said: "The law is fairly well settled in this regard. I think it would be difficult to conceive we would not be successful....My clients have been waiting for two years in order to get married and they really feel that matters just aren't moving quickly enough at the political level. If they lived in Ontario or B.C. or Quebec of many other Canadian jurisdictions they could already get married." 2
bullet2005-MAY-21: An Internet forum sponsored by RightNation.US who identify themselves as "America's #1 Conservative Community" contained some postings which dealt with the lawsuit.:
bullet"A marriage license doesn't make you a 'real family' any more than a drivers license makes you a driver. This has nothing to do with being a 'real family.' It has everything to do with promoting the gay agenda. Soon we will have people wanting to marry animals as long as PETA doesn't object."
bullet"Good God, the gay agenda is even permeating the Northwest Territories of Canada. We've got to start praying, fast :bang:"
bullet"We should not refer to it as gay anymore. Whenever you do you are helping them. Always refer to them as homosexuals. "
bullet"BTW, isn't there someone else to pick on but the poor homosexuals. I guess not. After all, if you picked on the blacks, or Asians, or Latinos you'd be called a racist, but apparently we haven't progressed as far in our society as some people might think, and picking on the queers is still a good pass time for a lot of people." 3
bullet2005-MAY-24: Brendan Bell, the justice minister of the Northwest Territories announced that the government will not interfere with Perrino and Snow's lawsuit. He said: "Hypothetically, if the judge rules that the federal legislation is deficient and orders us to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples then we will abide by that. I don't know if it would be the same day but I don't think it would take very long. I would think that thereafter I would sit down with the minister of health who is in charge of our vital statistics and we would provide the direction to the people at vital statistics and to marriage commissioners that this is how they would go forward." 4
bullet2005-MAY-27: The hearing began in the Territorial Supreme Court in Yellowknife, NWT. A married couple, described as "pro-family activists Ruby and Laurin Trudel of Yellowknife" applied to intervene in the lawsuit. They had been members of Yellowknife's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada until it started to share communion and the pulpit with the United Church -- a denomination which had begun blessing same-sex unions. They left the Lutheran church and started attending a conservative Anglican congregation. When they learned that the government was not going to contest the lawsuit, they had contacted Focus on the Family, Canada, who put them in touch with the Christian Legal Fellowship -- a conservative Christian legal group -- who requested intervener status for the Trudels in the lawsuit. 6 Court hearings were adjourned until June in order to allow the court to hear the Trudels' application.  5
bullet2005-JUN-17: According to the Canadian Lutheran: "The Trudels applied to upgrade to party status, allowing more involvement and the right to appeal."
bullet2005-JUN-30: The financial support for the Trudels evaporated. Their lawyer withdrew his services. The Trudels decided to proceed alone, without legal representation.
bullet2005-JUL-06: Ruby Trudel, alone, testified before the Supreme Court. She apologized to the court for her lack of knowledge of court procedures, and said that she was not homophobic: "While we do not support, encourage or endorse their lifestyle, we hold nothing against them personally." She said that those who promote the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage have been "rendered voiceless at the federal level." Actually, the debates in the Canadian Senate were in full swing at that time. She expressed concern over the possibility of persecution of Christian clergy if SSM were to become legalized. She said: "If the application before this court were to succeed, there is every reason to believe that repercussions against people of conscience and religion....will soon begin to occur here also." They asked that the court not impose costs on them: "Costs incurred to this point already exceed our ability to pay."
bullet2005-JUL-20. Federal bill C-38 was proclaimed. This legalized SSM in all jurisdictions across Canada and made the Northwest Territories' lawsuit moot.
bullet2005-OCT-17: Supreme Court Justice Virginia Schuler awarded the plaintiffs $5,000 to cover their court costs. The status of court costs for the Trudels is not known.

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References used:

  1. "Population, provinces and territories," Statistics Canada, 2004-JUL-01 estimates. See: http://www.statcan.ca/
  2. "Gay couple sues to marry in N.W.T.," Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2005-MAY-20, at: http://north.cbc.ca/
  3. "More of the homosexual agenda, They are constantly pushing," RightNation.US, 2005-MAY-21 to 23, at: http://www.rightnation.us/
  4. "N.W.T. gov't won't interfere in gay marriage suit," Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2005-MAY-24, at: http://north.cbc.ca/
  5. "Northwest Territories Supreme Court Gay Marriage Case Adjourned," LifeSite, 2005-MAY-30, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  6. Kevin Drews, "A Lutheran couple in Yellowknife defend their beliefs and rights: Taking marriage to court," The Canadian Lutheran, 2005-SEP, at: http://www.lutheranchurch-canada.ca/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-MAY-25
Latest update: 2005-JUN-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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