Quebec Marriage Decision
In our arguments in court, we questioned the constutionality under the Charter of:
1 of law C-23 which says that "marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion
of all others",
And the judge agreed with us. She says these laws are unconstitutional and then suspended her judgement for 24 months so that the federal government can correct them. In other words, we won on every point. But more than that, the judge states that the creation of civil union in Quebec, which is reportedly the most complete legal union for same sex couples to date, does not replace the right of access to marriage. ("The creation of civil union in Quebec carries a certain recognition but it is not the institution of marriage.")
What the judge seems to have done is strike down all the impediments to same sex marriage and then gives the federal government two years to rectify the situation but she also says that alternative conjugal forms for same sex couples (the famous "Marriage lite" are not acceptable under the Charter.
Leboeuf and Michael Hendricks
des lesbiennes et des gais au mariage ne met nullement en péril la famille
comme le prétendent certaines organisations, au contraire. Cela signifie
que le mariage en tant qu'institution peut et doit s'adapter à la diversité
réelle des couples et des familles présente dans la société
and lesbian access to marriage by no means endangers the family, like the claims
of certain organizations to the contrary. It signifies that marriage as an institution
may and must adapt itself to the real diversity of couples and families presented
in Quebec society."
Legal - Quebec
March 30, 2004
Marriage in Quebec is a 20-day process
With marriage for same-sex couples now legal in Quebec, gay and lesbian couples want to know how to get married in that province. Gay marriage advocate Michael Hendricks explains the process for civil and religious marriages. Quebec requires that a marriage application be posted for 20 days prior to a marriage. Civil marriages in Ontario and British Columbia are possible without delay.
March 19, 2004
Same-sex marriage is legal in Quebec!
"The Quebec Court of Appeal has upheld the Lemelin decision and struck down the delay so equal marriage is the law of Quebec as of today," write a victorious Michael Hendricks. " But the best part is that the 5 judge court ruled unanimously that the Ontario decision (Halpern) applies to all the provinces since it is about a federal issue and went uncontested." This reconfirms other provinces should follow suit!
March 18, 2004
Quebec court decision released tomorrow
A decision in the Quebec same-sex marriage case will be released by the Court of Appeal on Friday. Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf are the last couple still fighting in court for same-sex marriage. Anticipating a victory, the couple have their wedding clothes and rings ready. "It will be a sleepless night," Hendricks told us. A victory will mean 71% of Canadians have access to equal marriage. We wish bonne chance!
January 21, 2004
Same-sex marriage returns to Quebec court
Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf return to Quebec court next Monday (Jan 26) in front of five justices of the Court of Appeal. The couple won their same-sex marriage case in Superior Court on September 6, 2002. They are the only remaining couple who have fought and won the right to marry in court and still have not been given access to marriage by their government. They hope to quash a faith-based appeal.
September 9, 2003
Quebec marriage appeal delayed 'till 2004
A request for a delay from the attorney for The Catholic League for Human Rights and The Evangelic Fellowship of Canada, dated September 1, was approved today. The delay, due to illness and hospitalisation of a lawyer, was granted until January 26, 2004.
August 18, 2003
the legal battle continues in Quebec
Because of Ottawa's and Quebec City's delaying tactics, as the statute banning equal marriage in Quebec wound its way through the Senate (not the House!) and with lots of time wasted on their civil union theatre piece, our appeal won't be heard until September. Meanwhile, the feds have withdrawn from the appeal leaving the opposition to their religious allies. In September, René and I will be stuck defending equal marriage against people who have nothing to lose.
Read Michael Hendricks' "Why the legal battle continues in Quebec"
in Quebec: the story of our lives
The federal government announced September 9 that it will appeal the Quebec Superior Court Ruling that called the "one man and one woman" definition of marriage discriminatory [the appeal will be heard September 25-26, 2003].
"We ask all of you," Micheal Hendricks wrote in an email (Sept. 12, 2002), "all over the country, to respond to the call for opinions ... It does not have to be long but it should testify to the facts of your life situations and to why access to marriage is important for you and for our community."
Québec Court Calls For Equality!
The Quebec Court did as expected and ruled that the opposite-sex definition of marriage is discriminatory and cannot be justified under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision, released today, echoes the one Ontario court delivered on July 12. While declaring the opposite-sex definition of marriage unconstitutional, the Quebec court suspended its declaration for 2 years to give Parliament a chance to act.
Last month, the Quebec government placed advertisements in newspapers that said, "By acknowledging that men and women are entitled to make a formal commitment to live together as a couple, regardless of their gender, Quebec affirms its standing as a society that is open and aware that individual differences enrich us collectively."
The Quebec and Ontario courts, the governments of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, the Law Commission of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, numerous unions, groups and citizens have all called for Ottawa to end marriage discrimination now.
We send our congratulations to Michael Hendricks and Rene Leboeuf (right, above), our friends in Montreal who have been tirelessly fighting for the right to marriage. Their years of financial and personal struggle, on behalf of the fight for equality could be over sooner, rather than later, if the Canadian government would do the right thing, at last.
Michael telephoned this evening to say "the victory was better than we thought." He said the judge made it clear that the federal government would not satisfy the courts by introducing national civil unions or other alternatives to marriage. Opponents have tried to claim "the word" as their own.
Today's court ruling comments favourably on July's Ontario ruling. The Quebec document, issued in paper format only, rejects arguments that marriage is for procreation - another position held by those who oppose equal rights our families. It states that all laws that apply to marriage are invalid. Ottawa has no choice but to end marriage discrimination and find a way to make this change acceptable to the public.
"Now we have the two biggest provinces," Michael told us, happy to have the courts, representing a majority of Canada's population, behind us. "The last shoe has fallen," he said. "Let's see what the federal government will do with it."
Ottawa could start by dropping its confrontational stance. Then we can move towards dialogue, education, and change.
Click here to review daily reports from Quebec hearing "In their own words", by Michael Hendricks
|The legislation provides for a civil union registry which will give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as those of heterosexuals, including adoption and assisted procreation. Québèc does not recognize common law heterosexual relationships. The partnership unions will be unique to gays and lesbians but will also be extended to straight couples Bégin said.|
"Marriage is marriage. It's the gold
standard in social acceptance, and it's
mobile." Michael Hendricks,
Montreal March 22, 2002
The legislation insures property rights for both partners in a relationship, as well as life insurance, health, succession, and pensions. It also guarantees the right of a partner to oversee medical care for a spouse when that person is unable to make their own decisions.
The terms for separation also will be similar to marriage. In the event of a split up, the partners will share in the communal assets, including property. The civil union could be dissolved, by death, the judgement of the court or a notarized joint declaration of the partners.
Although all Canadian provinces recognize gay and lesbian relationships under common law, none yet offer marriage. Québèc and Nova Scotia have introduced registered domestic partenerships in the absence of full and equal right to the choice of marriage. Although it is a step forward, it is not enough. We must end marriage discrimination.
Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf returned to the Palais de justice de Montréal for a one-day continuation of their case, which they have dubbed, "Towards full citizenship: equal access to civil marriage for gays and lesbians." The pair were last in court November 16, 2001, listening to what they thought was the conclusion of their seven-day hearing. But while they were waiting for a decision, the Québec government came out with a proposal for Civil Union. The justice ordered the new hearing to review this new development and the possible impacts on the case.
case for equal marriage was made by Me. Anne-France Goldwater, Me. Marie-Hélène
Dubé and Me. Noël Saint-Pierre. In opposition to equality were the
lawyers for the federal government, the Québec government and L'Alliance
Francophone des Protestants Évangélique du Québec and|
La Ligue Catholique pour les droits de l'homme.
A decision is expected by September 2002. Meanwhile, here's Michael Hendricks' account of the day in court (days 1 to 7 are linked further below):
Eight - March 22, 2002
February 2002 - The government of Quebec concluded its public hearings on the civil unions bill and the minister has issued recommendations that will go a long way towards establishing equality for same-sex couples in Quebec
Registered Domestic Partnerships introduced in Quebec
On December 7, 2001 the Quebec Government announced its intention to introduce what it calls "civil marriage" for gay and lesbian couples in Quebec. The proposed system, would resemble the Registered Domestic Partnership system currently in place in Nova Scotia.
Sommaires d'EGALE / EGALE Summaries
Les sommaires par John Fisher, d'EGALE /
Summaries by John Fisher of EGALE
|Day 1 - Nov. 8, 2001||1ere
journée - |
le 8 novembre 2001
|Day 2 - unavailable||2eme
|Day 3 - Nov.12, 2001||3eme
le 12 novembre 2001
|Day 4 - Nov.13, 2001||4eme
le 13 novembre 2001
|Day 5 - Nov.14, 2001||5eme
le 14 novembre 2001
Communiqués de presse
Une Communiqué de presse par EGALE (en français)
Summary of the Legal Argument in Quebec