Canada's Supreme Court responds to gay marriage on Dec. 9









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Legal Canada - Canada's Supreme Court responds Dec. 9

November 30, 2004

Canada's Supreme Court responds Dec. 9
A speedy response was expected and is good news

The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that its judgment in the government of Canada's reference on marriage ("The Proposal for an Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes") will be released at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, December 9, 2004.

The court heard the reference only last month (October 6 and 7) but as we wrote at the time, we fully expect our nation's highest court will support same-sex marriage, so a speedy response was expected and is considered to be a sign of good news for anyone who values Charter rights.

Conservative and Liberal politicians have both abused the Supreme Court of Canada. Prime Minister Paul Martin and Justice Minister Irwin Cotler have hid behind the courts, delaying justice, politicizing the courts and leaving our justices vulnerable to attacks by Conservatives, who label our esteemed courts with charges of bias and judicial activism.

So we're most interested whether the court will respond to the fourth additional question that was tagged onto the reference simply to alter the timeline of justice for political convenience. This delay tactic, intended to "punt" (according to David Herle, co-chair of the PM's national campaign) the issue of gay marriage past the last election has resulted in a patch-work of rights across the country, as gay and lesbians are forced to continue fighting for their rights, province by province, and territory by territory.

Equal Marriage For Same-Sex Couples

The Fourth Question

PM Jean Chretien (2003):

Is the draft bill within the exclusive legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada?

Is the section of the draft bill that extends capacity to marry to persons of the same sex consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Does the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Charter protect religious officials from being compelled to perform a marriage between two persons of the same sex that is contrary to their religious beliefs?

PM Paul Martin (2004)

Is the opposite-sex requirement for marriage for civil purposes, as established by the common law and set out for Quebec in s. 5 of the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If not, in what particular or particulars and to what extent?

A court in the Yukon has already been critical of the cynical and disingenuous response from Ottawa. Should the court decide to answer question four at all, we most anticipate looking for the Supreme Court of Canada's response to the government's poor stewardship of Charter rights and its abuse of the legal process for political ends.

Through marriage equality, Canadian Members of Parliament, and their constituents, continue to be educated on the realities of a constitutional democracy. We look forward to the next lesson due on Dec. 9.

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