Pitfield, the only Canadian judge to rule in favour of continuing marriage
discrimination against same-sex couples (British Columbia), thought that
marriage was locked in a definition from 1867, "a time when this
court room was new and illuminated by gaslight," Douglas Elliott,
lawyer for MCC Toronto pointed out in the Ontario
hearing, "and Canada was a colony in a vast Empire, ruled by
a distant Queen, who was also Supreme Commander of the State Church."
The law, like the traveler, must be ready for the morrow. It must have
a principle of growth."
Justice Cardozo, 1945
public recognition and acceptance of homosexuals as a couple may be of
tremendous importance to them and to the society in which they live. To
deny homosexual couples the right to make that choice deprives them of
the equal benefit of the law." Supreme
Court of Canada,
Egan v. Canada, 1995
Your subsciption supports
same-sex marriage advocacy:
to 1847 - only Church of England marriages were legal in Ontario.
"Unchristianized" aboriginal native marriages were given
legal recognition, but only to the extent that they did not offend
British Christian conceptions of marriage. Male ogokwe (same-sex)
relationships were criminalized, however, with the imposition of the
death penalty until 1861.
- Catholic marriages became legal in Ontario.
- Jewish marriages became legal in Ontario. The British Matrimonial
Causes Act is adopted in Canada making divorce possible for women
on the grounds of adultery.
1871 - Under
Manitoba's Act Respecting Married Women, any property a wife
holds in her own name is free from her husband's control and debts,
but her earnings were her husband's.
- Ontario Legislature passes the Married Women's Property Act,
enabling a married woman to claim her earnings as her own, separate
from the property of her husband.
- Married women's property legislation is passed in Manitoba.
- Parliament passed legislation repealing the prohibition against
marriage between a man and the sister of his deceased wife.
- Ontario grants married women the right to own property and deal
with it or sell it without consulting her husband. Married women's
property legislation is passed in Nova Scotia.
- Married women's property legislation is passed in the Northwest
- Married women's property legislation is passed in Saskatchewan.
- Alberta passes the Married Women's Relief Act, which authorizes
the court to give a widow part of her husband's estate if he did not
adequately provide for her.
- The Saskatchewan Deserted Wives' Maintenance Act requires
husbands to pay support if they deserted their wives or forced them
- Removal of double standard whereby a husband could sue his wife
for divorce on the grounds of adultery alone, but a wife was required
to prove that her husband had committed adultery coupled with another
marital offence in order to obtain a divorce.
- Marriage finally permitted through a purely civil ceremony by a
judge or other official, thus ending the religious monopoloy on marriage
- Restrictions on the employment of married women in the federal public
service are removed.
- The Divorce Act simplified divorce, and marital breakdown
was included as a ground for divorce.
- It was still legal for a husband to rape his wife
- Chris Vogel and Richard North were married by a Unitarian Church on
Feb 11, after the publication of banns. The wedding ceremony predated
the Canadian Charter, and the couple was unsuccessful in court
attempts to force the Manitoba government to register the marriage.
- Introduction of the Family Law Reform Act, extending statutory
recognition for the first time to heterosexual couples who had been
"living in sin" or "without benefit of clergy".
- The Divorce Act was substantially revised with the introduction
of no fault divorce, permitting couples to obtain a divorce
simply by living separately for one year.
- The Canadian Human Rights Commission defined a homosexual couple
as a family.
- Parliament replaced the old law on prohibited degrees of consanguinity
with the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act, which provided
that persons may not marry if they are lineally related by consanguinity
or adoption or if they are brother and sister by consanguinity or
- The Supreme Court of Canada said (Egan
v. Canada,  2 S.C.R. 513 at 593-594) "The public
recognition and acceptance of homosexuals as a couple may be of tremendous
importance to them and to the society in which they live. To deny
homosexual couples the right to make that choice deprives them of
the equal benefit of the law." As a result of Egan, sexual
orientation was judged to be analogous to other protected personal
attributes listed in section 15 of the Charter.
- The Supreme Court of Canada said (Law
v. Canada,  1 S.C.R.497 at 534-535) "It is logical
to conclude that, in most cases, further differential treatment will
contribute to the perpetuation or promotion of their unfair social
characterization, and will have a more severe impact upon them, since
they are already vulnerable." M.
v. H. directly dealt with the definition of "spouse"
and the Supreme Court of Canada recognized same-sex conjugal relationships.
- Bill C-23 was passed in Canada's
House of Commons, extending all-but-marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The government introduced a definition of marriage in the pre-amble
to new legislation: "One man and one woman to the exclusion of
all others." The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto announced
its plans to read the banns of marriage for two same-sex couples during
December, as a step toward performing a legal marriage in January.
- January 14, 2001 the Metropolitan
Community Church of Toronto performed legal same-sex marriages, issuing
government record of marriages. Legal
challenges began in an effort to force the government to register
the MCC Toront marriages, and to offer marriage
through civil means.
2002 - Law
Commission of Canada, Parliament's advisers,told the Jusice Minister
that same-sex marriage should be legalized. Bill C-23 is discriminatory.
Soon after, the
Canadian Human Rights Commission added its voice, calling for equal
marriage. Ontario court said the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional
(July 12). Quebec
court agreed (Sept. 6), as did
the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The Justice Minister
stalls for time with the release of a "white
paper" outlining improbable options to be considered in the
- Parliament's Committee on
Justice and Human Rights considers options (until time passed
them by), while court victories continued for equal marriage. British
Columbia joined Ontario and Quebec courts in ruling in favour of equal
marriage (May 1).
The Court of Appeal for Ontario decision (June10)
changed the common-law definition of marriage, effective immediately
and the January 14, 2001 marriages were declared legal and the government
was ordered to register the marriages. The Prime Minister announced
the decision to stop legal battles and legalize same-sex marriage
for all of Canada (June 17). B.C.
opened marriage to same-sex couples on July
8. The Justice Minister is awaiting a review of the planned
legislation from the Supreme Court of Canada. Legislation was
expected to be tabled in 2004.
- A new Prime Minister and a new Justice Minister, fearful of voters
in an upcoming spring election, delayed
the Supreme Court of Canada review in order to minimize the potential
of same-sex marriage becoming an election issue. On March 19, the Quebec
Court of Appeal made marriage for same-sex couples legal in that province.
Couples press forward with more cases, in the absence of timely responses
from Parliament. The Yukon became
Canada's first territory to end marriage discrimination on July 14,
2004. Manitoba couples won access
to marriage on September 16, 2004. On September 24, 2004, Nova
Scotia's Supreme Court did the same for other couples, and ordered
the province to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. Saskatchewan
became the 7th region to legalize same-sex marriage on Nov. 5, 2004
and Newfoundland/Labrador on Dec.
2005 - Parliament
began debate on an equal marriage bill on Feb.
16, 2005. Bill C-38 passed second reading on May
4, 2005. Meanwhile, a New Bunswick court cleared the way for marriage
equality in that province on June 23, 2005. On June
28, 2005 Parliament passed the third and final reading of the marriage
bill. The Senate passed the bill on July 19, 2005 and equal marriage
received royal assent on July 20, 2005,
making the bill the law of the land. Canada
is the fourth country to give same-sex couples access to marriage, after
the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain.