nuptials legal in Nova Scotia by Friday? Federal
& provincial governments "must do better"
Scotia is about to become the 6th region in Canada, and the first province in
the Atlantic area, to comply with the law of the land by giving same-sex couples
access to marriage. The decision is widely expected to be aligned with Ontario,
British Columbia, Quebec, the Yukon,
Nova Scotia court is expected to announce its decision on Friday, September 24.
Couples in Nova Scotia launched their challenge on Aug. 13, 2004. Shortly afterwards,
Premier John Hamm announced the province would not oppose the couples, although
he said ( The Toronto Star, Aug. 17, 2004) that "Nova Scotia has refused
to proactively begin issuing (marriage) licences."
couples first began winning their cases in Canada (July
12, 2002), no province has been willing to give couples access to same-sex
marriage, unless ordered to do so by a provincial court.
Paul Martin, and Justice Minister Irwin Cotler are responsible for sending mixed
messages to the provinces, while botching things at a federal level through their
handling of the Supreme Court of Canada reference.
The review was unnecessarily delayed, and has increasingly
become irrelevant to about 85% of Canadians who will already be living in a province
that allows gay marriage.
and lesbians have had to turn repeatedly to the courts to eke out equality rights
because politicians have not had the courage to address them ... But forcing a
same-sex couple to ask a court to strike down a law the government has already
agreed is unconstitutional shows just how unwilling many politicians are to fight
for their gay and lesbian constituents. Like many previous cases on gay and lesbian
rights, it also placed onerous costs and unnecessary emotional strain on the couple
and is an affront to their human dignity ... legislators must take greater responsibility
for the rights and well-being of all their constituents, no matter who they are.
Just like other Canadians, gays and lesbians hold jobs, own property, raise children,
get old, love and are loved. Their rights are a matter of fundamental human dignity
and politicians must do better." Editorial,
The Toronto Star, Sep. 18, 2004
Boutilier and Brian Mombourquette are one of the couples involved in the Nova
Scotia marriage challenge. The couple considered the possibility of getting married
in Ontario, but their long-time hope was to get married in Nova Scotia where the
couple have long been active working in the community (Ross and Brian are members
of Safe Harbour Metropolitan
Community Church, the same denomination that was involved in the landmark
Ontario marriage case).
do it because we love what we've achieved here with this church, with our friends,
our family and at work," Brian
said as he embarked on this marriage challenge with Ross (see "Halifax
Pride: the next great leap forward"). "Both of us have constantly
and consistently stood up and said that we are a couple and we want to have what
we deserve as a couple. Our colleagues have respected us, and our friends have
come to love and care for us as we are, and our family is just so accepting, and
our church is where we draw our strength."
After Nova Scotia achieves the new standard for human rights in Canada,
half of Canada's 10 provinces and two territories will remain standing for discrimination
against same-sex couples. Alberta
has vowed to fight all the way (the Metropolitan Community Churches will have
congress in Alberta next year, primed to launch a campaign for marriage equality
in Calgary if that province is still holding out).
the federal government is on the sidelines, avoiding the issue without regard
for the law or for people. The stewards of our rights allow violations, while
couples like Ross and Brian step forward to work for rights that so many take
can claim credit for being a country that has expanded human rights for its citizens,
but when it comes to marriage equality, the credit belongs to so many, except
our governing politicians.