Gay and Lesbian Update

This monthly column features news and issues affecting gays and lesbians in Canada and around the world.

Same-sex marriage is now legal across Canada! The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 41 to 21 with 3 abstentions. Supreme Court Justice Beverly McLachlin, who was acting on behalf of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, signed the bill into law on the next day. Clarkson was recovering from having a pace maker installed at a Toronto hospital.

Shortly after the bill granting same-sex marriage received Royal Assent, Alberta held its first same-sex wedding. Yahoo News is reporting that two Alberta women became the first couple in the province to be married under the legislation. Their names are not being released, as they requested the affair be kept private. Gay activists assert that not every same-sex wedding needs to be shown in the media.

Prince Edward Island is Canada’s holdout province. The province won’t be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the fall, so they can pass an omnibus bill to change the wording in the province’s various statutes. This legislative process could take months. Critics argue that the province should have been ready before same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada.

With Bush re-elected in the USA and same-sex marriage now legal in Canada, many expected that Americans would be flocking to Canada. However, according to a processing centre in Buffalo, New York, six months before the election applications numbered 16,226, and after the election the number fell to 14,666. Critics say that it isn’t easy to just up and move, as money has to be saved to prove they can provide for themselves in Canada, and there is a two year waiting period.

This week, a British court will hear a case of a couple of women who were married in Vancouver, and now wish to have their marriage recognized by the United Kingdom. Civil unions become law in December; however, the women argue that their relationship is a marriage and not a civil partnership. They say if the court rules against them, they will take it to the European Court of Human Rights.

US Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, Jr. has worked behind the scenes to help out a gay rights case. At the time, he was a lawyer specializing in appeals. He helped out gay rights activists behind the scenes to successfully convince the US Supreme Court to issue a ruling protecting gay people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Roberts is a presidential republican nominee.

Ireland could be the next European nation to grant same-sex rights. The country’s Minister of Justice confirmed that proposals are being drawn up to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples. So far, the government is discussing UK-style civil partnerships. Full marriage is unexpected in the predominately Catholic nation, despite Spain legalizing same-sex marriage.

Quote of the Month

“You have no idea what a difference it makes to the human spirit to know that you are treated equally under the law” (Email sent to 71-year-old Senator Ione Christensen from Whitehorse. These were the last words read to a hushed Senate before Bill C-38 was passed.)