Go, Canada, Go!!!

  1. This article is from the 6/18/2003 New York Times:



    Canadian Leaders Agree to Propose Gay Marriage Law

    June 18, 2003

    TORONTO, June 17 - The Canadian cabinet approved a new
    national policy today to open marriage to gay couples,
    paving the way for Canada to become the third country to
    allow same-sex unions.

    "You have to look at history as an evolution of society,"
    Prime Minister Jean Chritien told reporters after a meeting
    of his cabinet. "According to the interpretation of the
    courts these unions should be legal in Canada. We will
    ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognizes
    the union of same-sex couples."

    The decision to redefine marriage in Canada to include
    unions between men and between women will immediately take
    effect in Ontario, Canada's most populous province and one
    that borders the United States. Last week, the province's
    highest court ruled that current federal marriage laws are
    discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.

    Once aides to Mr. Chritien draft the necessary legislation,
    the House of Commons is expected to pass it into law in the
    next few months. Although leaders of the two conservative
    parties and some backbench Liberals have expressed
    reservations, there is little organized opposition to such
    legislation, and public opinion polls show a solid majority
    in favor of the change.

    The policy opens the way for same-sex couples from the
    United States and around the world to travel here to marry,
    since Canada has no marriage residency requirements. In
    addition, gay-rights advocates in the United States are
    already declaring that Canada will serve as a vivid example
    to Americans that same-sex marriage is workable and offers
    no challenge to traditional heterosexual family life.

    Canadian marriage licenses have always been accepted in the
    United States, but now that the definition of marriage in
    the two countries appears likely to diverge, legal
    challenges to same-sex couples claiming rights and
    privileges deriving from their Canadian marriages seem
    certain to arise in at least some states. Issues over
    adoption rights, inheritance, insurance benefits and
    matters as mundane as sharing health club memberships are
    likely to arise in courts and state legislatures.

    Canada's new marriage policy comes at a time when the
    government is also pushing for legislation that would
    decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana,
    another policy that diverges sharply from American federal

    Polling experts and social scientists note that
    conservative religious views are much less influential here
    than in the United States, with regular church attendance
    far lower and with fundamentalist Protestant groups
    attracting far less support.

    While acknowledging that expansion of marriage rights to
    gay couples was not part of his political agenda, Mr.
    Chritien said the government would also ask the Supreme
    Court for advice to make the new legislation invulnerable
    to appeals by provincial governments seeking to invalidate
    the law in their jurisdictions.

    However, the conservative premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein,
    has threatened a legal fight to exclude his province from
    the new rules.

    Gay-rights advocates celebrated the decision as a
    civil-rights milestone.

    "June 17 of 2003 is going to be a day gay and lesbian
    people remember for a long, long time to come," said Svend
    Robinson, a gay member of the House of Commons from the
    left-of-center New Democratic Party, in a television
    interview immediately after the announcement.

    Canada's action follows in the steps of the Netherlands and
    Belgium, but it is likely to have a much larger impact on
    the United States. Only a few American same-sex couples
    have taken advantage of expanded marriage laws in the
    Netherlands because of its long residency requirement, and
    Belgium will only allow marriages of foreign couples from
    countries that already allow such unions. But Canada is
    nearby and has no such restrictions.

    "What this presents for American couples is an opportunity
    to easily enter into a legal marriage and come back to the
    United States with a powerful tool to break down the
    remaining discrimination here," said Lavi Soloway, a
    Canadian-born lawyer and founder of the Lesbian and Gay
    Immigration Rights Task Force in New York.

    Mr. Soloway said Canada's marriage reform would go a long
    way to changing public perceptions and attitudes in the
    United States, although he added that court and legislative
    battles would probably mark the slow march to full

    "What we are in for is a long gradual struggle to win full
    equal recognition of these marriages," he said.

    Since the Ontario appeals court ruled last Tuesday in favor
    of same- sex unions, only a few minor hurdles stand in the
    way of legalizing them throughout Canada. Since the court
    decision last week, Ontario has already issued 131 marriage
    licenses to same-sex couples, including four from the
    United States.

    The most important remaining step is a vote in the House of
    Commons sometime in the next few months, one in which Mr.
    Chritien said he will allow Liberal members to vote their
    consciences. Leaders of the Bloc Quebicois and the New
    Democratic Party have said their members are solidly behind
    the change, and with a majority of Liberals they should be
    able to enact the legislation easily despite opposition
    from leaders of two conservative parties.

    The Supreme Court, which has ruled repeatedly in favor of
    extending gay rights, appears to support the efforts of the
    government to extend marital rights.

    "Every movement has its human rights milestones," said John
    Fisher, director of advocacy for Igale Canada, a group that
    has been working for same-sex marriage in the courts. "Just
    as the day women acquired the right to vote, when racial
    segregation was ruled as unconstitutional, so too, same-sex
    couples have finally acquired the right to marry."

    To protect religious freedom, the cabinet decided that the
    planned federal legislation would allow religious
    institutions to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.

    A three-member panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal
    declared unanimously last week that the definition of
    marriage as currently set by federal government - as a
    union between a man and a woman - was invalid and must be
    changed immediately to include same-sex couples.

    It ruled that under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
    roughly the Canadian equivalent of the Bill of Rights, "the
    existing common-law definition of marriage violates the
    couple's equality rights on the basis of sexual
    orientation." It added, "In doing so, it offends the
    dignity of persons in same-sex relationships."

    The ruling was similar in argument but more immediate in
    impact to two previous decisions by provincial courts in
    Quebec and British Columbia.

    Last year, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that the
    prohibition of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and
    the British Columbia Court of Appeal did likewise last
    month. They gave the federal government until mid-2004 to
    change its marriage rules. Since then legislative panels
    have been studying ways to put the rulings into effect.

    Members of the Liberal federal cabinet overwhelmingly
    supported granting same-sex couples marriage rights, but
    members were divided over whether to legislate an immediate
    change or first to request guidance from the federal
    Supreme Court. After hours of debate, the cabinet decided
    to do both, hoping for the imprimatur of both government
    bodies to assure maximum popular acceptance of the new law.

    "I think on balance people recognize that the decisions of
    the courts are really pointing in a direction from which it
    would be difficult - if we wanted to - to turn back," said
    Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, who is also a candidate
    to replace Prime Minister Chritien as Liberal Party leader
    later this year.
  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Ted
    From the above article:
    Canada's action follows in the steps of the Netherlands and
    Belgium, but it is likely to have a much larger impact on
    the United States. Only a few American same-sex couples
    have taken advantage of expanded marriage laws in the
    Netherlands because of its long residency requirement, and
    Belgium will only allow marriages of foreign couples from
    countries that already allow such unions. But Canada is
    nearby and has no such restrictions.

    "What this presents for American couples is an opportunity
    to easily enter into a legal marriage and come back to the
    United States with a powerful tool to break down the
    remaining discrimination here," said Lavi Soloway, a
    Canadian-born lawyer and founder of the Lesbian and Gay
    Immigration Rights Task Force in New York.

    It will be very interesting to see how the states will respond to this!

    Our laws here against homosexual marriage are indeed discriminatory.

    A marriage guarantees certain legal rights! Rights that current committed gay couples can't enjoy in most states which is so wrong.

    So, folks, what do you all think?
    Last edit by Ted on Jun 18, '03
  4. by   Ted
    Not Leading the World but Following It

    June 18, 2003

    Disparities in the legal treatment of lesbians and gay men
    in the United States and their treatment in the rest of the
    world are becoming more pronounced. As the United States
    Supreme Court considers an important gay rights case,
    expected to be decided this month, it should realize that
    much of the globe sees the issue as a matter of basic human

    Last week the Ontario Court of Appeal in Canada ordered the
    provincial government to grant marriage licenses to two
    same-sex couples, ruling that restricting marriage to
    heterosexual couples could not be squared with the
    fundamental right to equality in Canada's constitution. The
    Canadian court's decision is hardly an aberration. In the
    last decade, national and local lawmakers in dozens of
    countries have enacted laws to bar discrimination on the
    basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, public
    accommodation and health benefits. Many of these countries
    are also beginning to recognize rights for lesbian and gay

    Lesbian and gay couples now enjoy full marriage rights in
    the Netherlands and Belgium and may enter into registered
    partnerships in seven other European nations. In November
    2000, the European Union adopted a new directive that
    mandates all member nations to provide equal treatment to
    lesbians and gay men in employment. At the time, this
    ruling covered 380 million people. With the union's
    expansion to 25 countries, it will soon cover millions

    These legal protections are spreading to parts of the
    developing world, like Ecuador, Brazil and Namibia. South
    Africa's highest court has issued several rulings in favor
    of lesbians and gay men since that country became the first
    to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
    in its constitution.

    The legal landscape in the United States is very different.
    Several states continue to impose a criminal ban on sex
    between consenting adults of the same gender, even in the
    privacy of their own homes. Others have enacted new laws
    restricting marriage to a union between one man and one
    woman. There are two states that recognize same-sex
    partnerships, and nearly a dozen states and many more
    municipalities have laws banning discrimination on the
    basis of sexual orientation in public accommodation and in
    employment. But the majority do not have such laws, and the
    prospects for enacting a federal antidiscrimination statute
    are bleak.

    A ruling expected soon from the Supreme Court provides an
    opportunity to redress at least one of these issues. In the
    case of Lawrence v. Texas, the court is considering a
    constitutional challenge to the Texas sodomy law, which
    bans private, consensual sex between homosexual couples.
    When the court last reviewed a similar law in Georgia in a
    1986 case, a 5-4 majority rejected the constitutional

    Will the recent trend recognizing gay rights in other
    countries influence the court's decision this time around?
    The justices are sharply divided over whether it is
    appropriate to consider foreign and international law when
    interpreting the United States Constitution. But in a
    recent ruling banning executions of the mentally retarded,
    a majority of the court took into account that such
    executions had received condemnation from the world

    The international consensus in favor of gay rights is still
    evolving. But the court can no longer state, as Chief
    Justice Warren Burger did in that 1986 case, that a
    decision striking down a sodomy law would "cast aside
    millennia of moral teaching."

    Recent events have created rifts between the United States
    and the rest of the world over important questions of law
    and policy. But respect for human rights should not be
    among them. When it comes to protecting the basic civil
    liberties of all people, including lesbians and gay men,
    the United States should lead the world, not lag behind it.

    Laurence R. Helfer is professor at Loyola Law School.
  5. by   sbic56
    That is good news, Ted. I would like to see this progressive thinking Canada enjoys spread south.
  6. by   fergus51
    We've already got some Americans coming to Toronto to get marriage lisences. It will be a while before it's all sorted out as federal and provincial laws will both have to be affected. The premier of Alberta has already said he will not let such a thing happen. Really, I don't know why there is such a kerfuffle about it. Why do straight people care if gay people get legally married?
  7. by   sanakruz
    Make love, not war, right?
  8. by   pickledpepperRN
    Canadians already have medicare for all. Here it would bring a lot of people into family health insurance.
  9. by   fergus51
    Not to mention pension and survivor benefits for gay couples!
  10. by   sanakruz
    Didnt a couple get married in Vermont last year? I believe the marriage was only valid in Vermont. Any one recall the details?
  11. by   kmchugh
    I'm glad to see Canada make this decision. I really think its time for the government to get out of the business of deciding what two adults do, who should or should not fall in love. And if gay couples become eligible for survivor benefits, insurance benefits, or other benefits available to other married couples, well more power to them.

    Of course, Falwell is going to send you Canuks to hell, you know that don't you? And he'll spearhead efforts to make sure that the US does not recognize Canadian marriages, as well.

    Man, I wish he could be one of our exports.

    Kevin McHugh
  12. by   sanakruz
    In the words of Henny Youngman" take my facist hatemonger...please!''
  13. by   fergus51
    Look Kevin, I do not want Jerry Fallwell showing up at my door!!! He'll have friends up here among the Canadian Alliance party (our version of rabid conservatives) who are opposed to this as well. According to polls about half of Canadians support recognizing gay marriages and half don't. I have always believed if you care about what kind of sex someone has then you aren't getting enough yourself (prime example, Kenneth Star ).
  14. by   Gomer
    I would love to see this pass. Not only because it would make many of my gay and lesbian friends very happy; but it would also drive the likes of Fallwell, Dobson, Robertson, and all those other up-tight SOB's into apoplexy.