New Brunswick couples seek help in marriage battle





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Advocacy News - New Brunswick couples seek help in marriage battle

September 26, 2004

N. B. couples seek help in marriage battle
Justice Minister refuses to end discrimination

New Brunswick's Justice Minister Green has said that he will continue to discriminate against same-sex couples who seek access to marriage (or recognition of their marriages performed elsewhere in Canada), until he receives orders from Ottawa.

Brad Green prefers to ignore the judgment of 18 Justices in 6 regions of Canada and the precedent case law of Canada's Supreme Court (Judges in the breakthrough Ontario marriage case said Canada's Supreme Court clearly ruled in favour of equal recognition for same-sex relationships in the 1999 case M v H) .

Mr. Green can also look to the example set by former federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, who called for the provinces to begin marrying same-sex couples in June 2003. It seems Green will have to wait for the next federal election to see similar leadership from Prime Minister Paul Martin and Cauchon's successor Irwin Cotler. They talk the talk but their actions have caused delay and unneccessary pain and work for people still living in provinces that discriminate against gay citizens. Cotler even tried to sabotage justice in the Yukon, until that court slapped him down, and charged the Justice Minister with expenses on top of everything.

When looking at the situation of unequal rights that exists between Canada's various provinces, the Yukon court said the degrading situation was "a result of the action or inaction of the Attorney General of Canada"

Instead of waiting for the laggards in Ottawa, the uncertain Justice Minister Green could chat about the law with Justice Ministers in other provinces. The Justice Minister of Nova Scotia couldn't justify fighting same-sex couples and gay marriage became legal last Friday, right next door to Green. Maybe he should call Saskatchewan's Justice Minister who has indicated he will also not resist if a same-sex couple steps forward with a case in that province.

That seems to be the best one can hope for if they live in a province that still discriminates against gay people: a province has yet to move forward proactively.

Dear Art & Wayne,

My partner and I read the story about your day at the government center in NB on the Equal Marriage website. We are thrilled that you are taking these bold steps for all of us and we look forward to joining you and others as the Supreme Court and Parliament continue to wrestle with this matter ... It is vital that we remain intransigent on the issue of refusing to let people call us names or treat us differently. Your good works are an inspiration.

Ken Bleyer and Emil Atanasov,
Sept. 24, 2004

New Brunswick recently lost an attempt to maintain discriminatory practices in adoption legislation, yet Green seems determined to fight on. Intransigence is not unusual in the local politicians (remember Elsie Wayne?), but when we did a 2002 speaking tour of the province, we found a corresponding group of highly motivated people working for change, including Art Vautour-Toole, and his spouse Wayne Toole, who were married in Ontario last year.

Art Vautour-Toole went to his local service bureau in Moncton, New Brunswick again yesterday in an effort to assume his husband's name (a previous attempt resulted in his arrest). He went again, he said, because a lesbian was Arrested!  New Brunswick defies new common law  recognizing same-sex marriage.successful in changing her name after an out-of-province same-sex marriage, however the change was allowed because nobody at the bureau noticed her spouse (who presumably was not present) was a woman.

The lesbian couple, identified as "A & T" in Art's message, have "agreed in principle" to initiate legal action with Art and Wayne against Green on behalf of marriage equality.

"Why should we wait for the Federal government to come out with a decision?" asks Art. "We will get the court to decide for us here in New Brunswick.

The couples are asking for assistance in mounting their campaign. Angels can contact Art Vautour-Toole at:

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