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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) in Canada

Part 2 of two parts

A brief list of major events from
2005-JUN until now. Current status.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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Brief list of major events:

bullet 2005-JUN-23: A court in New Brunswick ruled that the province must marry same-sex couples, effective JUL-04.

bullet 2005-JUN-28: Federal Bill C-38 was passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 158 to 133. It passed to the Senate for consideration.

bullet 2005-JUL-07: The Government of Prince Edward Island announced that it would legalize SSM in the province. This was a unique decision, because the territory of Yukon and the eight provinces which then allowed SSM all initially refused to conduct SSMs and only attained marriage equality when ordered to do so by the courts.

bullet 2005-JUL-19: Bill C-38 was passed by the Senate by a vote of 47 to 21 with three abstentions.

bullet 2005-JUL-20: Bill C-38 was proclaimed on DEC-20  by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Governor General, who usually proclaims legislation, was incapacitated for medical reasons. This law made same-sex marriages theoretically available in every province and territory of Canada.


2005-AUG: The Prince Edward Island government refused Dr. Chris Zarow and Constance Majeau's request for a marriage license. They were a same-sex couple from California, who wanted to marry during a family reunion in PEI on AUG-19. The province claimed that they didn't know how to marry two persons of the same sex. Faced with a lawsuit, someone in the government had a brilliant flash of insight and figured out how to resolve the problem. Chris Zarow said she was pleased that:

"From now on any [same-sex] couple can walk into the Vital Statistics office and simply fill out the paperwork as simple as anyone else. No one else will have to fight this battle."

This wedding is symbolic for all of Canada. For the first time, any couple, opposite-sex or same-sex, could obtain a marriage license anywhere in Canada and have their marriage registered by the province or territory. 1,2 More info.


2013-JUN-10: Two gays, Mathieu Chantelois and Marcelo Gormez-Wiuckstern, had been the first same-sex couple in Canada to marry via a marriage certificate in 2003. They celebrated their 10th anniversary together. By this time, same-sex marriages were available in twelve U.S. states and the District of Columbia as well as in about 14 other countries. SSM was being actively debated in Australia, in England and Wales in the UK, and in Scotland.

In contrast, same-gender sexual activity is still criminalized in 78 countries around the world. In six of those countries -- all predominately Muslim -- such behavior is a crime for which the death penalty can be applied.


2015-JUN-26: Earlier in the year, the U.S. Supreme Court had accepted appeals of four gay marriage cases: one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. The case is called Obergefell v. Hodges.

The High Court issued its ruling on JUN-26, legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the U.S., at least in principle if not in practice! A few states dragged their heels, but same-sex couples were able to marry in at least some counties of all 50 states, one District, and four out of five territories. Opposition in a few remaining counties gradually faded away. As of 2016-MAY, same-sex couples can marry everywhere in the U.S. except for the territory of American Samoa. The population there is mainly composed of American residents, not American citizens. Thus, rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court do not necessarily apply there.

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2016-MAY-29: During a Conservative Party of Canada convention during 2016-MAY, the delegates voted 1036 to 462 to delete the party's traditional opposition to marriage equality from their policy book. This may be the last nail in the coffin for marriage inequality in Canada. However the party retained their support for religious organizations to continue discriminating against members of the LGBT community by refusing:

"... to perform unions or allow the use of their facilities for events incompatible with their faith and beliefs." 3

Tonda Maccharles, writing for the Toronto Star, said that delegate and:

"... leadership candidate Maxime Bernier told the hall [that the vote] was all about 'freedom and respect. ... It’s about us telling to Canadians you can love who you want, and you can be loved..."

"When the results were announced, the hall erupted in whoops, and loud and sustained applause. ... " 3

Jordan Schroeder, a law student and a young social conservative delegate from Vancouver Quadra Riding who described himself as a traditional Christian with traditional views on marriage, said:

'... I also think we live in a liberal society — not Liberal meaning Justin Trudeau, but meaning freedom for everyone and respect for other people’s points of view and the way they live their life. ... I have two definitions of marriage, and that’s what I defend in my church. I defend it at Trinity Western University ... but then I also have a public definition of marriage, a Canadian definition of marriage, and that’s something that we all come together and agree on." 3

(Justin Trudeau is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the current Prime Minister.)

Maccharles also wrote:

"Some had warned of a dire political price to pay with the loss of the social conservative vote, but interim leader Rona Ambrose said she was 'not at all concerned' that would result because the debate had been handled in a 'very respectful way'.

In an interview with the Star, Ambrose said 'it might be difficult for some people, but everyone I’ve talked to said they understand this is the change, they respect the vote and we’re a united party and we move forward.'

One delegate had called the anti-discrimination resolution:

"... 'an attack on our values and principle ... family, faith and community."

Another opponent said while it protects religious institutions, it didn’t protect individual conscience rights. He said Christian bakers would not be able to refuse a request for a gay couple’s wedding cake,

"... leaving them open to [human rights] litigation.'

Still another said support for traditional marriage was not about discrimination against gays, but:

"... 'man-woman marriage is about children knowing and being raised by both a mother and a father."

Jason Kenney said that the topic was:

"... a no-brainer. ... [There is no point having a party position that] uses obsolete language about something that was changed in law and society a decade ago. You’re never going to get complete unanimity in any party. On any given day on any given issue there are people who come and go on the margins of the party but that will not affect at all the core or the breadth of the coalition."

An unidentified female delegate said:

"I come from a country where homosexuals are hanged, where homosexuals are persecuted. We come here for freedom & equality. I support my friends and family who are in this community because it is a fundamental right and government does not have a place in your bedroom."

This decision by the Conservative Party will leave many religious conservatives to whom a gay marriage ban is of prime importance with only one political party to support: the Christian Heritage Party. No Member of Parliament has ever been elected from that party. The next federal election might possibly break this trend as some anti-marriage equality voters will probably leave the Conservative Party.

Members of Parliament:

Candice Bergen, said:

"It was the right policy to pass, it was the right time."

Deepak Obhrai said that it brings the position of the Conservative Party in line with human rights and to "where the Canadian public is." 3

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Current status of SSM in Canada:

With the capitulation of Prince Edward Island in 2005, SSM had became available in every province and territory across Canada. They are now routine events.

The country remains divided on gay marriage. A healthy majority of adults are in favor. Young adults in particular are strongly in favor of SSM. Most elderly and religious conservatives remain opposed. Religious liberals, secularists, and NOTAS (religiously NOT Affiliated) are typically strongly in favor.

In 2006-JAN, a new federal government was elected, headed by the Conservative Party of Canada. Their leader, Stephen Harper, had promised to introduce legislation in Parliament as soon as possible which would prevent any additional same-sex couples from marrying. However, a study showed that that the majority of Members of Parliament would reject such a bill. The bill was never filed.

Just before the first same-sex couple was married in 2003, opposition to such marriages was strong in Canada. In 2002, an Ekos poll determined that 47% of Canadian adults opposed SSM. If it came to a vote, the large number of "undecideds" would probably have resulted in a majority vote against SSM. But by 2012, an Ipsos Reid poll determined that only 18% of adults were still strongly opposed to SSM.

During 2015-MAR, a Forum Poll found that 68% of Canadians approved of same-sex marriage while 24% were opposed. 4

During mid-2015, immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across that country, Forum Poll conducted a duplicate poll among 1,221 randomly selected Canadian adults. They found that 70% approved of marriage equality while 22% disapproved.. 4

Opposite-sex couples have observed that their own marriages were unaffected by the presence of gay marriages. The only real impact of marriage equality was that a significant number of additional loving, committed couples were able to marry in Canada. SSM had largely become a non-issue in the country. 3

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References used:

  1. "First same-sex wedding performed on PEI," at:
  2. Mathieu Chantelois, "Ten years of same-sex marriage in Ontario," The Toronto Star, 2013-JUN-1
  3. Tonda Maccharles, "Tories vote to accept same-sex marriage," The Toronto Star, 2016-MAY-29. at:
  4. "US court ruling boosts approval of same sex marriage in Canada," Forum Research, 2016-JUL-03, at:

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Site navigation:
"SSM" means "same-sex marriage"

Home > Reel. info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM menu > SSM submenu > Canada > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality> SSM menu > SSM submenu > Canada > here

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Copyright © 2005 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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