The Supreme court of Canada has ruled that prohibiting homosexuals from marriage is discriminatory. Here is the Story from canada.com. Gay marraige is now legal.
Let gays marry now, court says
Ontario ruling sets off rush to licence offices; federal minister considers appeal
The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Gay and lesbian couples raced to obtain marriage licences yesterday in a bid to pre-empt any attempt by the federal government to continue its flagging legal fight against same-sex marriage.
The rush to legal matrimony followed a ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which yesterday went farther than any court in Canada by changing the definition of who can marry, effective immediately.
Previous court decisions in Ontario and British Columbia had given the federal government until July 2004 to change its law.
The first gay couple to legally become newlyweds were Crown prosecutor Michael Leshner and his partner Michael Stark, in a civil ceremony before a judge at a downtown Toronto courthouse.
"Today is the death of homophobia in the courtroom as we know it," declared Mr. Leshner, as he embraced and kissed his legal spouse.
As Mr. Leshner and Mr. Stark exchanged rings and sipped champagne, several other couples picked up marriage licences, after the court ordered Toronto city hall to issue them.
In Ottawa, longtime partners Lisa Lachance and Heather Gass said that were hoping to obtain a licence this morning and possibly "do the deed" tonight.
The federal government, which until yesterday had had more than a year's grace period to recraft its law, scrambled to decide what to do next.
Justice Minister Martin Cauchon met with senior cabinet ministers to discuss his plans, which he will announce today after presenting them to the Liberal caucus.
Mr. Cauchon, however, hinted that the government's fight is not over yet.
"We really need a national solution," he said, stressing that Parliament should also have a role to play instead of leaving the "important social issue" entirely up to the courts.
"Having said that, we see the direction that the courts are taking now," Mr. Cauchon said.
The government could move as early as today to seek a stay of the court decision, pending a Supreme Court decision.
An appeal would buy time for the Justice Department, but even the Liberals' own research bureau has warned that the government will ultimately lose the fight.
If the high court agrees to hear the case, it could take another two years before making a decision. The case could become moot in the meantime, considering Paul Martin, the frontrunner to replace retiring Prime Minister Jean ChrÃ©tien, has said that it's time for the government to stop appealing.
The court, instead of telling the federal government to change its law, struck down the existing definition of marriage in Canada -- "the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.
The new definition is "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others," the court said.
"Exclusion perpetuates the view that same-sex relationships are less worthy of recognition than opposite sex relationships," the court said in a unanimous, 61-page written ruling.
"In doing so, it offends the dignity of persons in same-sex relationships."
The federal government is responsible for the definition of marriage and the provinces oversee the solemnization, including the marriage registration. The decision, which dealt with seven Ontario couples, ordered the provincial government to register marriages.
Ontario Attorney General Norm Sterling said he would not stand in the way of the court's ruling. "If the decision today says that two people of the same sex can get married, that is the law of the land, then we will register," he said.
But Alberta Premier Ralph Klein promised to do everything in his power to block the decision and his officials urged the federal government to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to be the final arbiter in the case.
Gay and lesbians activists, along with several MPs, urged the federal government to stop the legal fight.
"I am calling on Jean ChrÃ©tien, the prime minister, as part of his legacy, to leave a legacy of respect," said New Democrat MP Svend Robinson, who is gay.
"Stop the appeals, stop the obstruction, stop the waste of taxpayers' money."
The ruling orders the Ontario government to register the January 2001 marriages of Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa and Elaine and Anne Vautour.
The couples married in ceremonies in January 2001 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, using an ancient Christian tradition that allowed them to avoid having to get city-issued marriage licences.
The court decision dismisses every argument from the federal Justice Department, including its contention that the purpose of marriage is procreation.
The court also rejects the fear of churches that gay marriage infringes on religious freedom because it would force them to conduct ceremonies against their will.
"This case is about the legal institution of marriage," the court said.
"We do not view this case as, in any way, dealing or interfering with the religious institution of marriage."
As Mr. Cauchon considered his options, an all-party parliamentary committee met behind closed doors yesterday to put the finishing touches on a report, crafted from months of public hearings on whether gays and lesbians should be permitted to wed.
Mr. Cauchon said he wants to consider the report's recommendations.
But there were complaints among committee members that the political process has been usurped by the courts.
"We apparently have judge-made law in this country and we're just here for decoration," said John McKay, a Liberal MP who opposes same-sex marriage.
Vic Toews, justice critic for the Canadian Alliance, called on the federal government to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Toews also says that the government should not be shy about using the Constitution's notwithstanding clause, a safety valve that allows politicians to override unpopular court decisions