Legal Canada - Ontario
February 25, 2005
Queen's Park sends message to Parliament
Ontario gave Canada the first court victory for gay marriage, and the first legal same-sex marriages. Now it has passed changes to over 70 pieces of legislation to remove gender-specific terms and to include same-sex partners in the definition of spouse. The move had multi-party support and was even commended by Ontario Catholic Bishops, showing Ottawa the way forward.
August 29, 2004
Guilty! Assault on gay pastor not "trivial"
Erika Kubassek says she hears God's voice. On the morning of Canada's first legal gay marriage, the self-proclaimed prophetess affirmed that God told her to come to the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. She avoided special security, interrupted a worship service, and assaulted the senior pastor. This week Ontario's highest court reversed lower decisions and found Kubassek guilty of assault.
July 21, 2004
Canada's first same-sex divorce
It was only a matter of time, after the arrival of gay marriage in Canada, for the first same-sex divorce to reach the courts. News of this event reached the media today in a case being handled by Martha McCarthy, the same lawyer who worked for marriage equality in the Ontario, Quebec, and Yukon cases. Once again the federal government is caught unprepared, as divorce laws have not yet been changed to be inclusive.
June 30, 2004
The first registered gay marriage: Jan 14, '01
Canada has the distinction of recognizing and registering the earliest known gay and lesbian marriages in modern times: January 14, 2001. The marriages of Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell and Anne & Elaine Vautour were registered by Ontario after a June 10, 2003 order from the Court of Appeal for Ontario. A certificate of marriage finally arrived for presentation at MCC Toronto's Pride day service.
May 18, 2004
Ontario drags its feet 1 year after gay marriage
While running for office last fall, Dalton McGuinty claimed to support same-sex marriage. However as we approach the first anniversary of the landmark Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that introduced gay marriage to North America, we find that many of the province's statues do not reflect the new reality of equal marriage. Never mind about waiting for a certificate. It's time to call Liberal campaign commitments to question!
March 25, 2004
Your marital name in Ontario
Same-sex marriage has raised new questions for gay and lesbian couples as they begin exercising their full rights. "So, you've just gotten married in Ontario and you're wondering how this affects your name," writes Fred Brzezinski. "Well, the answer is it doesn't have to affect it at all, but it can if you want it to!" Fred outlines your choices if you wish to alter your surname as a result of gay marriage.
February 6, 2004
Ontario Ministry adjusts to equal marriage
Soon after the June 10, 2003 arrival of gay marriage in Ontario we began getting questions and comments from same-sex couples who wanted to know where they could find a marriage licence without the opposite-sex references to "Bridegroom" and "Bride". More letters followed with concerns about long delays in getting Certificates of Marriage. We asked the Ministry responsible for an explanation.
will register our marriages
Yesterday the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that the January 14, 2001 same-sex marriages at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto were valid and ordered the Registrar General of Ontario to accept registration of our marriage certificates. Ontario law is changed immediately, and already, same-sex couples have applied for licenses and married their partners. Congratulations to all!
Today, Ontario's Attorney General said the province will register same-sex marriages.
"I'm charged to follow the laws and will follow the laws with regards to this matter," Norm Sterling told Canadian Press. "We said during the appeal process that the province of Ontario would follow the court ruling. We made that clear during the process."
The Court of Appeal for Ontario heard the marriage case in April 2003 (see below). A three-justice panel, led by Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, will released their decision at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, on Tuesday, June 10 at 9:30 a.m.
Chief Justice Roy McMurtry was one of the key players involved in making Canada's constitution a reality, along with Jean Chretien [now Prime Minister of Canada].
The Chief Justice adjudicated the appeal with Madam Justice Eileen Gillese (former Dean at the Faculty of Law, the University of Western Ontario) and Mr. Justice James MacPherson (former Dean of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School).
In 2002, the Ontario divisional court declared the prohibiton against same-sex marriage to be a violation of the Canadian Charter. The historic case was appealed and heard in court between April 22 - 25, 2003 (Court of Appeal, Courtroom two, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto).
To read accounts of each day in court select the links below:
The following are factums (arguments) from the appeal:
Metropolitan Community Chuch of Toronto factum
Civil marriage case factum
Without a rational reason to defend ongoing discrimination against gay couples, the Attorney General of Canada will be in Ontario's Court of Appeal using circular logic in feeble arguments against same-sex marriage. The government's entire case rests on a single assertion: marriage "just is" heterosexual. The legal factum that supports couples who are seeking civil marriage debunks this approach.
Canadian Human Rights Commission factum
The Canadian Human Rights Commission is an intervener in the Ontario Court of Appeal same-sex marriage case. The CHRC compares the Attorney General of Canada's position to racial segregationists in 1896. "The assertion by the AGC that there is a need to protect and promote opposite-sex marriage, presumably from incursion by "other" family forms, is expressly discriminatory and demeaning to all Canadians."
Canadian Coalition of Liberal Rabbis factum
An intervener in the Ontario Court of Appeal same-sex marriage case has joined the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in discrediting faith-based opposition to gay marriage. The Canadian Coalition of Liberal Rabbis for Same-Sex Marriage will argue that the inclusion of same-sex partners in the definition of marriage augments religious freedom in a pluralist society with secular laws.
July 29, 2002
Federal Liberals Fight On Against Equality
Although the Ontario government announced it would not appeal the July 12 decision in favour of same-sex marriage, the Canadian government announced it will appeal and fight on in defense of discrimination. The appeal will be heard in April 2003.
July 12, 2002
wins in Ontario Divisional Court
Toronto - An historic judgement was delivered today at Osgoode Hall, when a decision from a three-justice panel was released which unanimously declared any restriction to same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. The court gave the Canadian government up to 24 months to take legislative action to remedy the issue and declared that any remedy has to treat gays and lesbians with full equality. They declared an end to treating gay & lesbian families as second class.
from Ontario Divisional Court
The Ontario legal challenge involves MCC Toronto (two couples, who were married January 14, 2001, seeking government registration), and 8 couples who were seeking a marriage licence through city hall (the civil marriage couples have subsequently been reduced from 8 to 7 for the Ontario appeal, above).
The governments of Ontario and Canada opposed our marriage, with the Interfaith Coalition on Marriage & Family (consisting of Catholics, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and Evangelical Protestants), and the Association for Marriage and the Family in Ontario.
For equal marriage:
The Attorney General of Canada's Memorandum of argument
Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto Memorandum of argument
of Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes
of Mary Bennett
of Rev. Sara Boyles
of Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo
of Dr. Tim Ryan
of Rev. Rick McCutcheon
Against equal marriage:
The Association For Marriage and the Family Memorandum of argument
The Interfaith Coalition on Marriage and Family Memorandum of argument
Materials from April 2003 Court of Appeal for Ontario hearing
The Interfaith Coalition (PDF doc)
Response and Cross-Appeal:
Factum from Halpern: civil marriage case (PDF doc)
Response and Reply:
Reply factum from MCC Toronto (PDF doc)
Factum of MCC Toronto, filed in the Ontario case
Brent Hawkes Affadavit
affidavit of the Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes
Bourassa and Joe Varnell's Affidavit