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Legal Canada - British Columbia

July 8, 2003

Same-sex marriage arrives in B.C.!
Hypocritical religious opposition lose credibility

"... any further delay in implementing the remedies will result in an unequal application of the law as between Ontario and British Columbia, with same-sex couples being denied the right to marry in British Columbia until July 12, 2004 while same-sex couples in Ontario may marry as and when they choose to do so."
B.C. Court of Appeal, July 8, 2003

"... this has been a long and difficult journey. We will cherish this day as long as we live."
Lloyd Thornhill and Robert Peacock, 365gay.com, July 8, 2003


Today, British Columbia became Canada's second province to end marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. Of the three provinces where marriage cases were heard in Canada, B.C. was last to deliver a court victory for same-sex couples.

Within minutes of the court's approval, Anthony Porcino and Tom Graff were married on the steps of the BC Supreme Court by United Church Rev. Tim Stevenson.

"We believe in the public commitment and support of relationships, the richness of the public-private nature of that act of community and the personal belief in the equality of all Canadians," Anthony Porcino and Tom Graff said in a statement published by The Globe and Mail, July 8, 2003

On May 1, after an initial defeat in a lower court, the B.C. Appeal Court finally aligned itself with earlier lower court decisions in Ontario and Quebec by agreeing that same-sex couples had a right to marriage. The decision, largely based on a July 12, 2002 Ontario divisional court ruling, refrained from giving couples immediate access to marriage. Instead, like Quebec, the B.C. ruling followed the lead of Ontario's lower court, giving the federal government until July 12, 2004 to enact same-sex marriage.

Useful Links:

Decision from B.C. Court of Appeal

Online Marriage Services

How to get married in B.C.

Getting Hitched in Canada

What you need to get
married in Canada

Deciding whether to get
married in Canada

We got married in Canada,
What's Next?

Ontario upped the ante on June 10 when the Court of Appeal for Ontario rewrote the common-law definition of marriage, effective immediately, for all of Canada. Although the Ontario court order for compliance applied only to Canada's most populous province, the Canadian Justice Minister said, "It would be a good thing if the provinces went ahead to recognize same-sex unions based on the Ontario court decision, but that's up to the provinces (Montreal Gazette, June 21, 2003).

In the aftermath of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ontario, come of the couples involved in the B.C. marriage case travelled to the province to get married, while others remained in B.C., waiting, or working, for the day when that province would take the inevitable step, taken today, of lifting the suspended 2004 remedy. "I suddenly cried. I didn't know that I was going to do that. In the court they've announced that we can get married."
Tom Graff, CTV, July 8, 2003

On June 30th, the B.C. Attorney General's office announced that it would end its fight against same-sex marriage. With the evaporation of federal and provincial opposition, lawyers representing couples in B.C. filed a court request to have their suspended remedy changed to one of immediate effect. As Justice MacPherson said in the Ontario case, "When you win, you win."

Conservative religious groups don't agree. Yesterday a coalition of anti-gay bigots, including Catholic Bishops, Evangelical fundamentalists, the Islamic Society of North America, Focus on the Family, and REAL Women of Canada, announced that they have requested a stay on the Ontario Court of Appeal decision and also asked the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal the Ontario decision.

The laughable, ineffectual move further highlighted the group's tenuous hold on reality, and underscored their hypocrisy.

"Re-defining marriage to include same-sex couples is a matter for Canadians and their elected leaders - and not the courts - to decide," said Focus on the Family on May 1, in response to a court victory in B.C.

 

The governing Liberal party agreed in spirit, if not intent. With government support now on the side of same-sex marriage, the homophobes are running back to the very same courts that they have so often criticized and maligned for upholding Canadian Charter values.

"This matter has far-reaching consequences nationwide, and the nation's highest court should be permitted to consider the fundamental issues," said a spokesman for Focus on the Family yesterday.

Such are the convictions of bigotry. Through their own actions, these religious conservatives appear to be morally bankrupt, slipping into irrelevancy as they disgrace themselves and their followers. People of faith deserve better than to have their donations and spirituality abused by these misguided leaders. Reconciliation between conservative extremists and the rest of Canadian society is hampered as long as these anti-gay leaders keep trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of a Canada.

The convictions of bigotry

"Re-defining marriage to include same-sex couples is a matter for Canadians and their elected leaders - and not the courts - to decide"
Focus on the Family, May 1, 2003

"This matter has far-reaching consequences nationwide, and the nation's highest court should be permitted to consider the fundamental issues."
Focus on the Family, July 7, 2003

Today's action in British Columbia is a victory, not only for gays and lesbians, but for all Canadians who believe in equality and human rights. Attention should now turn to Quebec, where a delayed court remedy is still in effect, and to the rest of Canada, where provinces no longer have any excuse to maintain marriage discrimination. The mighty river of justice keeps on flowing and will eventually cleanse this country from coast-to-coast-to-coast, and beyond our borders where there is much work left to be done.

Congratulations to the people of B. C. who have joined a civilized new world order. We hope equal marriage advocates in that province will not rest, however, until all of Canada enjoys the freedom now found in Ontario and B.C.


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