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Equal Marriage Chronology

October 13, 2000 Egale initiates legal proceedings in B.C., on behalf of itself and 5 same-sex couples (the “Egale” case).

November 23, 2000 A further three same-sex couples initiate separate legal proceedings in B.C. (the “Barbeau” case).

January 25, 2001 Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (“MCCT”) application was joined to be heard together with the Halpern application. MCCT brought its application after the province of Ontario refused to register two banns marriages performed at MCCT on

January 14, 2001.

April 1, 2001 The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to permit same-sex couples to marry. (For more info see http://athena.leidenuniv.nl/rechten/meijers/index.php3?m=10&c=76)

July–August, 2001 Egale and Barbeau cases heard together before Mr. Justice Pitfield in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

October 2, 2001 Mr. Justice Pitfield releases judgment in the B.C. cases. He rules that excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage violates .15 of the Charter, but that the division of powers section of the Constitution prevents including same-sex couples in the definition of marriage. Egale and the Barbeau couples subsequently appeal.

November 5–9, 2001 Halpern and MCCT cases heard by a three-judge panel of the Ontario Superior Court. Egale participates as an intervenor.

November 8–15, 2001 Hendricks case heard by Madame Justice Lemelin of the Quebec Superior Court.

July 12, 2002 The Ontario Superior Court releases its decision, striking down the opposite-sex restriction on marriage as an unconstitutional violation of s.15 of the Charter and reformulating the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. A two-year suspension is ordered. The Attorney General of Canada (“AGC”) subsequently appeals.

September 6, 2002 The Quebec Superior Court releases its decision, striking down the opposite-sex restriction on marriage as an unconstitutional violation of s.15 of the Charter. A two-year suspension is ordered. The AGC and the intervenor Catholic Civil Rights League subsequently appeal.

November 12, 2002 The Minister of Justice releases a Discussion Paper on Marriage and Legal Recognition of same-sex Unions and refers the discussion paper to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (the “Justice Committee”).

November 2002–April 2003 The Justice Committee holds 27 public hearings on marriage and the legal recognition of same-sex unions. The Committee heard from 467 witnesses, of which 59% said they support equal marriage.

February 10–12, 2003 A three-judge panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal hears the Egale and Barbeau cases.

April 22–25, 2003 A three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal hears the Halpern and MCCT cases.

May 1, 2003 The B.C. Court of Appeal releases a unanimous judgment reversing the decision of Mr. Justice Pitfield. It strikes down the opposite-sex restriction on marriage as an unconstitutional violation of s.15, reformulates the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, and orders a suspension until July 12, 2004 (to coincide with the suspension in Ontario).

June 1, 2003 Belgium becomes the second country in the world where same-sex couples can legally marry.

June 10, 2003 The Ontario Court of Appeal releases a unanimous decision striking down the opposite-sex restriction on marriage as an unconstitutional violation of s.15, reformulates the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, and orders its decision to have immediate effect. Later that day, the City of Toronto begins issuing marriage licences, and same-sex couples begin getting married. Canada becomes the third country in the world where same-sex couples can legally marry.

June 11, 2003 Municipalities across Ontario begin issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. Many are issued to same-sex couples who traveled from other provinces and countries.

June 12, 2003 The Justice Committee votes to accept the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision.

June 17, 2003 Prime Minister Chrétien and Justice Minister Cauchon announce that the federal government will accept the Court of Appeal decisions and will introduce legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry across Canada. They say the legislation will first be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada and will then be subject to a free vote in Parliament.

July 8, 2003 The B.C. Court of Appeal orders the province to immediately begin issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. B.C. becomes the second province with equal marriage.

July 10, 2003 The intervenor Catholic Civil Rights League attempts to appeal the Quebec decision. On March 19, 2004 their request was denied.

July 17, 2003 The AGC files its Notice of Reference regarding the Legislation with the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”).

July 28, 2003 Focus on the Family and Real Women (together known as The Association for Marriage and the Family in Ontario), an intervenor in the Ontario cases, attempts to appeal the Halpern decision to the SCC. On October 9, 2003 the Supreme Court refuses to hear their application.

July 31, 2003 The SCC issues its order to enter the Reference on its list of cases. A hearing date is set for April 16, 2004.

September 16, 2003 Parliament votes 137–132 to defeat the Alliance motion to “take all necessary steps” to maintain an exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage. “All necessary steps” is code for the notwithstanding clause.

November 18, 2003 The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachussetts rules that excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage violates the State’s constitution and orders that same-sex couples be permitted to marry in 180 days.

January 23, 2004 The Supreme Court of Canada grants leave to intervene to all 19 intervenors who sought leave.

January 28, 2004 AGC files Notice of Amended Reference, which adds the fourth question: “Is the opposite-sex requirement for marriage for civil purposes, as established by the common law, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

February 19, 2004 The SCC delays the date of the Reference hearing from April 16, 2004 until October 6–8, 2004 and allows new parties to apply for leave to intervene.

March 19, 2004 A 5 judge panel of the Quebec Court of Appeal rules that equal marriage applies across the country. Quebec becomes the third province in Canada with equal marriage.

April 22, 2004 The SCC grants leave to intervene to all 6 new intervenors who sought leave. This brings the total number of intervenors to 27.

May 17, 2004 Same-sex couples begin marrying in Massachussetts. The United States becomes the fourth country in the world where same-sex couples can legally marry.

July 1, 2004 In the wake of a federal election in which equal marriage and the Charter were major issues, a survey released by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada and Environics showed a 9% jump in support for equal marriage for same-sex couples. The survey showed 57% of Canadians in favour of equal marriage and 38% opposed. (see http://www.cric.ca/pwp_re/new_canada%20redux/11)

July 14, 2004 The day after the July 13 hearing, the Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory rules that same-sex couples can marry there. The Court rejects the federal government’s request for an adjournment pending the outcome of the SCC Reference. The Yukon becomes the fourth jurisdiction in Canada with equal marriage.

September 16, 2004 The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench orders that the definition of marriage in Manitoba include same-sex couples. Both the province of Manitoba and the federal government fully cooperated. Manitoba becomes the fifth jurisdiction in Canada with equal marriage.

September 24, 2004 The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia orders that the definition of marriage in Nova Scotia include same-sex couples. Both the province of Nova Scotia and the federal government fully cooperated. Nova Scotia becomes the sixth jurisdiction in Canada with equal marriage. 82% of Canadians now live in jurisdictions with equal marriage.

October 1, 2004 Spain’s Cabinet approves a law to give gay and lesbian couples the equal right to marry, divorce and adopt children. Experts say it is almost certain to pass the legislature. Spain will become the fifth country in the world with equal marriage. The Roman Catholic Church says equal marriage risks “introducing a virus into society.”

October 6–8, 2004 The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the Marriage Reference. A ruling is expected in 3–18 months. The Liberal government has promised to introduce equal legislation in Parliament immediately following the ruling.