of getting married in Canada? Joint
Advisory From Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal Defense & Education
Fund, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, and
Freedom to Marry
June 10, the high court of Ontario, Canada's most
populous province, ruled that the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage
infringes human dignity, harms families, and violates the constitution. The court
immediate end to this cruel discrimination. Within hours, same-sex couples began
couples, different-sex or same-sex, may go to Canada to marry. Canada, like the
United States, has no residency requirement for marriage (though it does have
a one-year residency requirement for divorce). See http://www.cbs.gov.on.ca/mcbs/english/marriages.htm
for a description of how to marry in Canada.
couples who go to Canada to marry should realize that the decision is not just
a political gesture, but rather is about taking on all the responsibilities, legal
obligations, joys, and wonder of being married. When couples who marry in Canada
come home -- although they might face uncertainties and discrimination -- they
will be as married as any people on the planet. That means, for example, the couples
will identify as married on applications/forms for jobs, apartments, credit, mortgages,
insurance, medical treatment, and taxes.
good news is that couples returning home married will have a unique chance every
day to role model what married same-sex couples look like, and show that marriages
of same-sex couples strengthen those families and the larger community while harming
no one. This is critically important because as GLBT Americans, we are involved
in a civil rights
struggle and have not yet won the freedom to marry in any state -- although that
may soon change with cases pending in the Massachusetts high court (GLAD) and
in the New Jersey courts (Lambda Legal). As in any civil rights struggle, we still
have other layers of discrimination to undo, both in the states and with the federal
law that discriminates against the marriages of same-sex couples.
many marriages will be respected to varying degrees in various places, and even
in surprising places, many married couples
will also experience discrimination. Some but not all businesses, states, and
others will refuse to honor these lawful marriages, along with the federal government.
And couples with a member in the military, or on public assistance, or in the
U.S. on a visa will face particular complexities. Couples must be prepared to
live with a level of uncertainty while we continue our work to end marriage discrimination
we can and we will peel away the layers of discrimination we now face. It is simply
no longer debatable that our families exist and that we need the same protections
marriage provides for our families and our children. Everyone can help. People
can join and work with local, state, and national organizations to repeal discriminatory
state laws and the federal anti-marriage law as unfair and harmful to GLBT families
and their children. (Contact us to get a list of organizations.). They can focus
public attention on how they have been treated - the discrimination and harms
the marriage exclusion causes their families and the proof that the sky does not
fall when a community respects same-sex couples' marriages. And people should
continue to use the available legal tools such as wills and health-care proxies,
and should consult with attorneys and financial advisors, to protect their families
during the lengthy process of sorting these issues out.
plan ahead to find someone who will marry you (and a witness for each person
being married). Ask the clerk who is administrating marriage licences for more
information. Welcoming faith communities include Metropolitan Community Churches,
Unitarian Fellowships, and United Churches.
Justice Harvey Brownstone is more than happy to conduct a same-sex marriage for
couples wishing to have the ceremony performed by a judge. An appointment must
be made by email well in advance. Justice Brownstone is available to perform
wedding ceremonies in his chambers any weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North
York Family Court, located at 47 Sheppard Avenue East, 2nd Floor (steps from the
Sheppard subway station). Couples must bring their marriage license and a cheque
for $75, payable to "The Minister of Finance". Justice Brownstone's
staff sends the cheque, together with the tear-off portion of the marriage licence
to the Registrar, so that the marriage can be registered by the government. No
fee is payable to Justice Brownstone for his services. If couples wish Justice
Brownstone to marry them at an off-site location, or on an evening or weekend,
this can be arranged, depending on his availability. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
those who contemplate litigation as a response to discrimination against their
marriage, it is critical to remember that any legal case has profound implications
beyond the individuals involved. Please contact the organizations below who have
the most experience litigating on marriage, civil unions and the rights of GLBT
people and who have definite thoughts about what, when and where litigation is
and is not advisable for taking our movement forward. Couples should absolutely
not race across the border
just to set up lawsuits; the wrong cases could set us back for years. We will
be strongest if we work together.
this is a civil rights struggle, and we must bring all of our resources to each
part of the struggle: telling stories, politically organizing, engaging non-gay
allies, working in legislatures, and very selectively litigating. Together we
can win marriage equality here in the United States.
can you get married in Ontario? First, go to a city hall and ask for a marriage
licence. Fill out the application,
pay your $110 fee and obtain your validated licence. Finally to get married you
justice of the peace to marry you (the clerk at the marriage licence application
desk can give directions), or
church willing to perform the marriage ceremony (Metropolitan Community Churches,
Unitarian churches, and some United churches are already performing marriages
for same-sex couples).
Dr. Brent Hawkes, senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto
will marry same-sex couples.
simplified wedding takes about 10 minutes, or the couple can include a scripture
reading and a prayer in a 20 minute ceremony:
fee for either service is $300 (a minimum payment of $150 in cash, the remaining
can be paid using credit/debit cards).