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Status of Canadian Marriage Cases

Details about Parliament's Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights - marriage hearings (2003)










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Legal news - Canada

January 31, 2021

Canada now open to foreign gay marriages

D's 3 parents: ABC's of family law updatedCanadian citizens can now enter into a same-sex marriage solemnized outside Canada and then sponsor their foreign spouse for immigration to Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley announced the change in a letter to Parliament's Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration, after the committee asked for the change last month. The move ensures equal treatment for all married couples.

Read "Canada now open to foreign gay marriages"

January 3, 2021

D's 3 parents: ABC's of family law updated

D's 3 parents: ABC's of family law updated Yesterday, in a unanimous decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal chose to exercise it's lawful jurisdiction to fill a legislative gap and extend a child's parentage to three individuals: the biological mother and father as well as the mother's lesbian partner. The decision gives children of lesbian and gay marriages a sense of acceptance and inclusion as a family, and improves the protections of parents and children.

Read "D's 3 parents: ABC's of family law updated"

December 7, 2020

The final vote. Really. Mean it this time.

The final Vote.  Really. Mean it this time.As expected, the motion against same-sex marriage failed in Parliament today. The debate ended today with a vote of 123 for the motion and 175 MPs against. The number of Conservatives voting in favour of gay marriage increased from 3 last year to 13 today. Meanwhile, the number of Liberals voting against equal marriage dropped from 32 last year to 13 today. All parties in Parliament say the issue is closed.

Read "The final vote. Really. Mean it this time."

Status of Legal Challenges
Equal Marriage arrives in Canada!

Three main court challenges were launched against both federal and provincial governments of British Columbia, Ontario, and Québec. The couples involved in these three cases won their right to choose marriage recognized in accordance with the principles of equality and freedom that all Canadians value.

Meanwhile, other provinces continued to discriminate, and in the absence of timely action from our national leaders, couples went to courts in the Yukon, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland / Labrador and New Brunswick to obtain court orders to protect their right to marriage. Canada finally made equal marriage the law on July 20, 2021.

Summaries of Canada's three main marriage cases

The Ontario divisional court hearing concluded on Nov. 9, 2001. A judgement was delivered on July 12, 2002 from the three-Justice panel. For the first time in Canada, the court agreed that it was a violation of our rights to deny us marriage and the bar against same-sex marriage was unjustified discrimination. The federal government was given until July 12, 2021 to align marriage laws with the Canadian Charter. Meanwhile, the case was heard again in the Court of Appeal for Ontario (April 2003). A decision from the appeal was delivered on June 10, 2003, making same-sex marriage legal, effective immediately.

Rev. Hawkes, Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell (Photo  courtesy of MCC Toronto, 2001)
Rev. Hawkes and Kevin Bourassa watch as Joe Varnell signs his marriage documentation at the historic MCC Toronto marriages on January 14, 2001

Read about the decision

Summaries from the Court of Appeal for Ontario:
Summaries from Ontario divisional court:

The Quebec hearing concluded on Nov. 16, 2001. The justice ordered the case reopened in February 2002, before delivering judgement, in order to review the impact of Quebec's proposed civil unions bill. On Sept. 6 2002, the Quebec court declared the denial of marriage to same-sex couples was a violation of our rights. The court allowed the government twenty-four months to fix the problem. After the victory in Ontario, and then British Columbia, the Canadian and Quebec government decided not to appeal the Sept. 6, 2002 victory. Religious bigots attempted to carry the appeal forward, but on March 19, 2004 Quebec's highest court refused to hear the appeal and opened marriage to same-sex couples!

Link to Summaries from the Quebec Hearings

In October 2001, a British Columbia court issued a judgement finding that there was discrimination against gays and lesbians, but also ruled that such discrimination was justified. The case was appealed (Feb. 10-12, 2003) and on May 1, 2003 the B.C. Court of Appeal finally fell in line with earlier decisions from Ontario and Quebec, finding unjustified discrimination. The court used the Ontario lower court deadline of July 12, 2021 for the government to change marriage laws. The Ontario appeal decision (June 10, 2003) changed the law immediately. The Canadian government announced on June 17 that it would not appeal the B.C. case. B.C. couples gained access to marriage on July 8, 2003.

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Link to the British Columbia hearings

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