In Canada, gays and lesbians are challenging at present the bar on same-sex marriages. Whether the state or the courts charge to the altar first, it seems same-sex marriage is not far off. If same-sex partners are no longer excluded from marriage, the nature of public policy deliberations in relation to registered partnerships is likely to be considerably altered. In fact, it is reasonable to venture that some of the hostility to registered partnerships will disappear if marriage is opened up to gays and lesbians. Campaigners who insist nothing short of marriage will have achieved want they demand, and social conservatives who oppose broadening access to marriage will not focus on registered partnerships.
The three cases discussed are similar as well as different in various characteristics. The decisions on the Ontario and British Columbia are different yet their background and nature are quite similar. The Quebec case is different and thus will be discussed a bit separately.
EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Attorney General of Canada et al
In the first of these cases to be decided, the British Columbia Supreme Court, on 20 October 2001, shelve the challenge brought against the federal and provincial governments by several gay and lesbian couples and the national organization EGALE. The applicant’s required declarations that same-sex marriage is not banned at law, that the Director of Vital Statistics is permitted to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and that any legal ban of same-sex marriage disobey Charter guarantees and is of no force and cause.
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