Not Simply Divine - Human rights and same-sex marriage, by R. Douglas Elliott







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May 7, 2021

Not simply divine
Human rights and same-sex marriage

By R. Douglas Elliott,* B.A., J.D. 

Not Simply Divine
Human rights and
same-sex marriage
Part one
Part three
Gays versus God?
Presented by R. Douglas Elliott
Equality Forum,Philadelphia, 2005


While Ferdinand and Isabella were sending Christopher Columbus off to discover America, they were also busy enforcing Christian orthodoxy and ruthlessly rooting out heresy at home. How the world has changed since the days of the Spanish Inquisition! One of the first official acts of the new Pope, whose last job was running the modern version of the Inquisition, was to condemn the recent decision by the lower house of the Spanish legislature to extend civil marriage to same sex couples.

Many centuries after Columbus’s arrival, the United States of America was born right here in Philadelphia. The young nation rejected the European tradition of an official religion endorsed and enforced by the state. They over threw their ruler, a man named George, despite the fact that George believed God had placed him in charge. The U.S.A. was the first country to embrace the concepts of constitutional rights to equality and freedom of religion, individual rights that would protect every person from the tyranny of the majority.  Those ideas laid the foundation for the freedom to marry for same sex couples that has been embraced in countries such as Canada, a country that was founded in part by the Tories who had opposed the American Revolution. 

As President of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association, I have had the opportunity to observe the global trend toward legal recognition of marriage for same-sex couples. As a lawyer in Ontario, Canada, I had the privilege of representing the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, one of the winning parties in our Court of Appeal’s decision in Halpern that has made marriage for same-sex couples a legal reality in my country.[1]

In this brief paper, I propose to outline some international developments in same sex-marriage beginning with a detailed look at Canada.[2] I will conclude with some observations about the clash between proponents of secular human rights to equality and those who advocate of more religion in the public square, or perhaps more accurately, religious control of the public square.

* Douglas Elliott is a partner with Roy Elliott Kim O’Connor LLP, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ( He is also the President of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association (
[1] Halpern v. Canada (A.G.), [2002] 60 O.R. (3d) 321 (Div.  Ct.), aff’d [2003] O.J. No. 2268 (C.A.).
[2] For further information on Canada, please see R.D. Elliott, “The Canadian Earthquake: Same-sex Marriage in Canada” (2004) 38 N.E.L.J.  Vol. 3, p. 591. Please do not hesitate to contact Sasha Dmitrenko, LL.M. of my firm or myself for further information, documentation or case-law: 1-416-362-1989 (Tel), 1-416-362-6204 (Fax), Email: or

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