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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 - Legal news from 2005

Legal News From 2005

July 21, 2021

It's a quiet thing: equal marriage is law

It's a quiet thing: gay marriage is law.Marriage equality for same-sex couples is the law of the land. Following this historic moment, the world did not stand still. There were no celebratory fireworks. No church bells peeled and traffic wasn't snarled by widespread dancing in the streets. The world simply turned on - and that's the way it should be.

Read "It's a quiet thing: equal marriage is law"

June 28, 2021

Parliament stands by the Charter

Parliament stands by the CharterSame-sex marriage was approved by Canada's House of Commons today in a vote of 158 in favour of equality and 133 against. The definition of marriage was changed by the Court of Appeal for Ontario two years ago, but as Parliament acts we recall some of those in the most recent court case who have worked so hard for our rights.

Read "Parliament stands by the Charter"

April 20, 2021

Gay marriage bill passes 2nd reading

Gay marriage bill passes 2nd readingParliament took another step towards aligning its laws with Canada's "two persons" definition of marriage today when Bill C-38 passed second reading in the House of Commons. The bill passed by a vote of 163 to 138. A second vote was taken to send the bill to committee for review: again equality and justice won with a vote of 164 in favour and 137 against.

Read "Gay marriage bill passes 2nd reading"

April 20, 2021

Gay marriage bill proceeding to committee

Gay marriage bill proceeding to committeeThe Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada put forward a motion, yesterday to send Bill C-38 to a legislative committee. The committee review of the draft legislation is the last step before the House of Commons has a final vote on the bill. The move is an attempt to limit Conservative party attempts to delay justice.

Read "Gay marriage bill proceeding to committee"

April 12, 2021

Parliament rejects Harper's bigotry

Gay marriage wins again as Parliament rejects Harper's bigotry."I believe Canada passed a very important test today," Prime Minister Martin said today after Parliament rejected the bigotry in a Conservative Party motion to stop the progress of gay marriage. As we enter the wedding season, most Canadians already live in a region where same-sex marriage is a reality. While Harper throws hissy fits, gay couples throw bouquets.

Read "Parliament rejectsw Harper's bigotry"

April 7, 2021

NYC recognizes Canada's gay marriages

NYC recognizes Canada's gay marriages.Today New York City became the latest locality in New York State to announce that it will fully respect the marriages and civil unions of same-sex couples performed in jurisdictions like Massachusetts, Vermont, Canada and other countries. 45% of the population of New York State now live in an area where gay marriage is recognized.

Read "NYC recognizes Canada's gay marriages"

April 3, 2021

MPs speak of courage, conscience & duty

MPs speak of courage, conscience and duty in gay marriage debate.Members of Parliament spoke with a sense of history on March 24, in the final hours of the first reading of the Canadian government's bill to legalize gay marriage. MPs spoke of personal courage, Catholic conscience, and constitutional duty. The debate will determine the shape of Canadian society in the years ahead, but it is already moving gays from the margins of society.

Read "MPs speak of courage, conscience & duty"

April 3, 2021

Rights are rights are rights

After a month-long break, Parliament resumed debate over gay marriage on March 21. Anti-gay MP Alan Tonks said that Canada has gone past "the point of no return" on the issue of same-sex marriage, as it is already legal in most of Canada. Supporters of gay marriage spoke of the need to protect minority rights and respect the Canadian Charter. Read highlights or the entire debate.

Read "Rights are rights are rights"

February 22, 2021

Rights, dignity, liberty and choice

Rights, dignity, liberty and choice - NDP's Libby Davies defends gay marriageThe NDP's Libby Davies told Parliament that gay marriage is a matter of rights, dignity, liberty & choice: "People are worried about losing their sense of tradition. Rather than MPs fueling and exploiting that fear, we have a responsibility to tell Canadians that this is not about fear. It is not about something ending. It is about something beginning."

Read "Rights, dignity, liberty and choice"

February 22, 2021

Why the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Why the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?Gay marriage is a test of Canada's commitment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Debates now underway in Parliament's House of Commons show why the checks and balances provided by our constitutional democracy are required to protect targeted citizens from being assigned a second-class status. Extracts from the House sum it up in a nutshell.

Read "Why the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?"

February 22, 2021

O'Brien: illogical and morally offensive

O'Brien: illogical and morally offensiveLiberal MP Pat O'Brien spoke of the need to maintain dignity with regards to gays and lesbians, but he then went on to call gay marriage morally offensive, an oxymoron, and a threat to the Canadian family. O'Brien said he is insulted by comparisons of the movement for same-sex marriage with the campaign for women's rights or the black civil rights movement.

Read "O'Brien: illogical and morally offensive"

February 22, 2021

Commons sense: debates on gay marriage

Commons sense: debates on gay marriage (Feb. 16-18(Prime Minister Paul Martin has put forward one vision in support of gay marriage and equality, while Conservative leader Stephen Harper has promoted discrimination. The debates are underway, with Members of Parliament speaking about the past and the future, explaining the fundamentals of a constitutional democracy, and Parliament's place in it all.

Read "Commons sense: debates on gay marriage"

February 17, 2021

Harper's half-truths won't halt equality

Yesterday's speech by Conservative leader Stephen Harper against gay marriage was a string of half-truths and half-baked notions and potions. Harper is at the barricades, while gays and lesbians have already been to the alter or city hall, and we're now getting on with our lives as full and equal citizens. He's only playing with himself and other wankers.

Read "Harper's half-truths won't halt equality"

February 16, 2021

The soul of what it means to be Canadian

The Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin, stood in Parliament today to defend gay marriage and the Charter of Rights from the attacks of the Conservative party and religious extremists and fundamentalists. "The issue is not whether rights are to be granted," Martin said. "The issue is whether rights that have been granted are to be taken away."

Read "The soul of what it means to be Canadian"

February 1, 2021

Bill C-38 reaches House of Commons

Bill C-38 reaches House of CommonsBill C-38, "an Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes" was introduced in the House of Commons today. Parliament is now set to debate the Civil Marriage Act. The gay marriage bill impacts only 15% of Canadians who live in an area of Canada that still discriminates against gays and lesbians.

Read "Bill C-38 reaches House of Commons"

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

Link to  reviews and news about Just Married:  Gay Marriage and the Expansion of Human Rights

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.

Link to the British Columbia hearings

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