feels like the schoolyard bully has been defeated."
Legal Canada - Yukon gold: same-sex marriage arrives in Canada's north
July 15, 2004
gold: justice continues to spread
he acknowledged the Yukon government didn’t oppose a change to the common law
definition of marriage, [Justice] McIntyre noted today they had refused to issue
the marriage licence back in January. “It (YTG) had a choice ... it decided to
await the decision of the court,” said McIntyre, who added he now says the territory
could have issued the licence ... There’s a cost “to not acting prior to this
decision,” said McIntyre."
Same-sex marriage became legal yesterday in the Yukon when the territory's prohibition against gay marriage was declared unconstitutional by Justice Peter McIntyre. In making his oral decision (a written decision will be issued today), the judge underscored the messages that have come repeatedly from Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec courts: it is a "legally unacceptable result" to continue to delay the roll-out of marriage equality across the rest of Canada.
Stephen Dunbar and Rob Edge plan to get married on Saturday. The couple brought their case to the Yukon Human Rights Commission, and filed a petition with the courts in early June, after the territorial Vital Statistics office refused to issue the couple a wedding licence last January.
Nunavut has said it will recognize same-sex marriages that have been registered elsewhere, but the Yukon becomes Canada's first territory to comply with the already changed definition of marriage.
"I think it's great when due process can reach these conclusions on behalf of any particular group of citizens in this country. It shows this country is very open to all views and I think that's a good thing and the Yukon is no different," Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie told CBC yesterday.
While the Yukon Premier spoke of "due process", the court clearly felt that the territory had failed to follow the law. The time for further court battles is over, as indicated by the court costs that the judge handed over to the Yukon and the federal government, for fighting this frivolous battle.
How many more provinces and territories must gays and lesbians fight for the right to marriage? The courts of four jurisdictions have spoken most clearly. The Yukons victory sends another strong message. Provinces and territories that continue to deny gays and lesbians access to marriage are breaking common law and violating Charter protections.
We encourage the Prime Minister to speak up on this issue, as he did during the election, and repeat the message of the courts (and the previous Liberal government): all provinces and territories are bound to follow the law and that they must begin allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
In the alternative, we encourage Canadians to demand their rights in provinces and territories that still discriminate, and if necessary, to take legal action immediately to obtain more court orders to protect our rights in the absence of political leadership.