Legal Canada - And Nova Scotia makes six
September 24, 2004
Nova Scotia makes six
Nova Scotia's Supreme Court has declared the definition of marriage to be "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others" this morning in a Halifax court room. Although not a surprise for anyone involved, the crowd who had gathered to hear the decision cheered and celebrated the arrival of same-sex marriage in this conservative Maritime province.
The challenge involved three couples: Brian Mombourquette and Ross Boutilier, Kim Vance and Samantha Meehan (a couple who had previously registered their relationship in the Nova Scotia, and married in Ontario after gay marriage became legal in 2003), and Ron & Brian Garnett-Doucette. Ron and Brian were quick to obtain the necessary paperwork for marriage when they left the courtroom.
The couples were supported by many, including lawyer Sean Foreman, the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, and Safe Harbour Metropolitan Community Church.
"The law in Nova Scotia is now clear on this aspect of human rights," Darrell Dexter, Leader of the Opposition, said in a NDP Caucus message released earlier this afternoon. "... every individual should have equal treatment and equal access to marriage."
Increasingly, provinces that maintain discrimination against their gay citizens are coming under pressure to end discrimination without being forced by a court order. We were hopeful that New Brunswick would move ahead, in light of its recent defeat in maintaining adoption policies that discriminated against same-sex couples.
"When will our province get on board?" New Brunswick gay marriage advocate Larry Dickinson asked his Justice Minister Brad Green and his Premier Bernard Lord in an email yesterday. "The rest of the country isn't waiting to be told what is right and fair [by the Supreme Court of Canada or by Parliament]. Why are you? [New Brunswick] is now considering a law to force dog owners of certain breeds to carry a million dollars insurance? Let's get our priorities straight here! What plans do you have to comply with the law of the land? Stop using the excuse that the feds must tell you what to do. This doesn't seem to be the case elsewhere. Take some initiative!"
Wayne Tool and Art Vautour-Toole (you'll remember this couple was involved in a dispute with New Brunswick over the recognition of their Ontario marriage - Art was arrested) have also appealed to the New Brunswick Justice Minister this week, in light of the advances made in other provinces.
Justice Minister Green is telling the couples what he told the media today: "I await with interest the decision of the Parliament of Canada on this important issue."
Lady Justice is supposed to be blind, not our Justice Ministers. Such willful neglect of duty contributes to the inappropriate attacks on our courts and so-called "activist judges".
Our Justices are simply doing their job. We wish we could say the same of Mr. Green and his kind.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Catholic Bishops of bigotry were dependable, as usual, for issuing a statement that said more than intended. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said in a release, "We must recognize this decision as the end of state support for marriage as we have always known it."