Advocacy News - Gay marriage bolsters institute in Canada
January 17, 2007
marriage bolsters institute in Canada
By Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell
Equal marriage for same-sex couples in Canada is bolstering marriage rates and giving new life to an ever-evolving institute, the latest government data shows. A report released today by Statistics Canada looks at marriages registered in this country during 2003, the first year that provincial governments began registering same-sex marriages.
Gay marriage was legal only in Ontario, British Columbia, and the Yukon during 2003, and only those areas showed an increase in marriage rates. Provinces that still practiced marriage discrimination showed a decrease in marriages from previous years.
"In Ontario," Statistics Canada says, "the number of marriages increased by 1,870, or 3%, from 2002, while in British Columbia, there were 734 more marriages (+3.5%) and in the Yukon 15 more (+10.5%). In all other provinces and territories there was a decline."
The most recent peak for marriages in provinces that did not have marriage equality, was in 2000, the report says, "when 157,395 couples took their vows, presumably choosing to marry at the start of the new millennium."
A total of 147,391 couples were married in 2003, according to government data. Statistic Canada notes the historical relevance of the information that "for the first time include limited information on same-sex marriages."
Ontario treats all marriage registrations equally and does not identify marriage licences issued to same-sex couples. But British Columbia does.
British Columbia data on same-sex marriage
Beyond bolstering marriage rates, equal marriage for same-sex couples has introduced a few notable differences from opposite-sex couples.
The majority of same-sex marriages registered in BC's first year of marriage equality were from outside of Canada.
"Of the 21,981 marriages that occurred in British Columbia in 2003, 774, or 3.5% were between people of the same-sex, says Statistics Canada. "More than half (55.9%) of the people who entered into a same-sex marriage in British Columbia were not residents of Canada. On the other hand, only a small proportion (4.8%) of people marrying someone of the opposite sex in that province did not reside in Canada. In 2003, Canada was the only country in the world that allowed same-sex marriages between people who were not residents of its territory."
Gays and lesbians entering their first marriage were older than opposite-sex couples, which comes as no surprise, given that same-sex couples had previously been prohibited from access to the rite/right.
"In British Columbia, people who married someone of the same sex had an average age at first marriage of around 13 years more than people who married someone of the opposite sex," says Stats Can. "Thus in British Columbia, the average age at first marriage for same-sex couples) between men was 43.9 years, and for women it was 41.6 years. However, the average age at first marriage for opposite sex couples was 31.0 years for men and 28.8 years for women."
Female couples outnumber male couples in a same-sex marriage, and they were more likely to have been married before.
"Of the 774 same-sex marriage in British Columbia, 422, or 54.5% were female couples and 352, or 45.5%, were male couples. Over one-quarter (27.6%) of women who married another woman had previously been married while 14.2% of the men who married another man had previously been married."
Rather than undermining marriage as opponents of equality make in their extreme and bizarre hysteria, the arrival of gays and lesbians, and their children, in the institute has given a new breath of life to what would have been an otherwise diminished year in Canada for marriage.
Read the full details in Statistics Canada's "Marriages, 2003"