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Adam and Steve, eh?
June 10, 2003 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Got a same-sex partner? Live in Ontario? Well, you can get married, says the province's highest court. In fact, if you live in Toronto, you can get married right now.
posted by stonerose (41 comments total)

 
The court declared "the existing common law definition of marriage to be invalid to the extent that it refers to 'one man and one woman'," and reformulated "the common law definition of marriage as 'the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others' ."

Rather a big week here: we can smoke weed with impunity, and now this... welcome to the New Netherlands!
posted by stonerose at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2003


The way things are going in Ontario, you can smoke pot at some topless lesbian wedding... but it'll still be illegal to have a cigarette in a restaurant. Weird.
posted by bobo123 at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2003


Any step forward in the human rights march is good news to me.
posted by padraigin at 9:38 PM on June 10, 2003


so can you guys please invade the US already? we need to be liberated, dammit!
posted by dorian at 9:47 PM on June 10, 2003


Smoke pot with impunity? Sure, you can take over. Just make sure that our schools education funds raises 200%. Please?
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:51 PM on June 10, 2003


"The way things are going in Ontario, you can smoke pot at some topless lesbian wedding... but it'll still be illegal to have a cigarette in a restaurant. Weird.
."


All very well and fine, and I agree whole-heartedly with the progress. But Canada: wake up! Your cigarettes are fucking nasty, no matter where you can or cannot smoke them.

Just saying...
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:31 PM on June 10, 2003


Any step forward in the human rights march is good news to me.

amen. i can't believe that anyone would even want to have an opinion about someone else's sexuality.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:52 PM on June 10, 2003


Congratulations Canadians! It's about time countries took this step.

(I just wanna be invited to all the weddings.) :)
posted by Soliloquy at 11:11 PM on June 10, 2003


Hmm. SARS cases surface, tourism down. Same-sex marriage legalized, tourism back up! Brilliant.

And what dorian said.
posted by pzarquon at 11:50 PM on June 10, 2003


canada is awesome.
posted by sunexplodes at 12:13 AM on June 11, 2003


Funniest thing I heard in a while was yesterday on CBC radio the morning show host was interviewing one of the men who was involved in the court case. At the end of the interview after the guy announced his intention to get married that afternoon the host finished up the interview by saying "well congratulations, it's a fairy tale come true." Much apologizing and 'no-pun-indended'ing' ensued.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:58 AM on June 11, 2003


Well, hooray. I second the cries for liberation. C'mon you guys, I'm in Massachusetts, you don't even have to take over the whole country if you don't want to...
posted by hilatron at 4:53 AM on June 11, 2003


[sarcasm]Aren't Toronto and Ontario gay enough as it is?[/sarcasm]

Rock on, Canada.
posted by gramcracker at 5:55 AM on June 11, 2003


To be fair, the government has little to do with the current state of affairs. They stayed out of the courts decision in Ontario to throw out marijuana laws, and they are going to stay out of the issue of same sex marriages.

If the US wants to learn an example from us, keep the federal government out of issues relating to personal morality and sexual relationships, leave that to the community.

Oh, and for the first person who will say "Well the Ontario government said they will not issue marriage licenses to gay couples anytime soon!" Be aware that ANY marriages in Ontario are under the jurisdiction of the municipal governments, not the province. So this is a moot point.
posted by CrazyJub at 6:21 AM on June 11, 2003


To be fair, the government has little to do with the current state of affairs. They stayed out of the courts decision in Ontario to throw out marijuana laws, and they are going to stay out of the issue of same sex marriages.

Well, they decided to stay out - unlike the barbaric rulers further South

keep the federal government out of issues relating to personal morality and sexual relationships

And remember that this is best accomplished by NOT giving you vote to the people who peddle "small government". Strange, I know.
posted by magullo at 6:43 AM on June 11, 2003


Yeah, it kind of takes the wind out of the "Liberals want big government" argument doesn't it? Looks like the so-called conservatives want to be the social police.
posted by CrazyJub at 6:57 AM on June 11, 2003


keep the federal government out of issues relating to personal morality and sexual relationships, leave that to the community.

True - except that here we have a far-right idealogue party that's packing the courts with far-right religious judges who are against stuff like this. (Among other things.) So the federal government is involved, is in fact the problem that needs fixing.
posted by dnash at 7:01 AM on June 11, 2003


It's all but certain that Canada's federal government is going to pass legislation that is in line with the findings of the courts. But the Premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein, is threatening to invoke the 'notwithstanding clause' to exempt his province from complying with any federal legislation which broadens the definition of marriage. (This is a very significant but relatively little-used bit of law that allows provinces to opt out of federal programs/laws when they deem that doing so is necessary to protect their vital interests. Its use with regard to such a personal issue would be, I think, unprecedented and extremely ugly, politically.)
posted by stonerose at 7:09 AM on June 11, 2003


Any step forward in the human rights march is good news to me.

Yeah, it's always good news when a court of unelected, appointed individuals, whose names are unknown to the public, dictate public policy. And, then, tell the government (and, thereby the people) how long they have to appeal the issue.

I could care less if gays can get married, I'm pissed because the Appeal Court of Ontario has usurped democracy, jumping the gun on something that the government was spending a lot of time and money debating and researching the long-term ramifications of.

And yes, I live in Ontario. This is no step forward for human rights -- it's a step back, to the dark ages, when a small group of elite individuals decide what is best for everyone else.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:19 AM on June 11, 2003


The small-government moralists here in the US have had their way with pre-emptive action against marriage in many states already. The two gay people in Utah must have been pretty threatening back in 1995, I guess.

Canada's looking better all the time. To think, health care and marriage-- I'd be practically human there!
posted by cukeyou at 7:28 AM on June 11, 2003


The two gay people in Utah

Actually, I've heard Salt Lake City has a thriving gay community, though definitely low-key given the environs.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:44 AM on June 11, 2003


This is no step forward for human rights -- it's a step back, to the dark ages, when a small group of elite individuals decide what is best for everyone else.

I hear this argument a lot when our (U.S.) Supreme Court does anything supporting human rights; it was the primary argument against Brown v. Board of Education, for instance. The problem with it is that the majority if allowed to dictate everything can (and does, see the whole of history) create divisions of people and make some people second- and third-class citizens (or not citizens at all, see Dred Scott).

So hurrah for small groups of elite individuals that decide to recognize oppressed people's rights. History shows that society usually catches up to these "elites."
posted by norm at 7:47 AM on June 11, 2003


Yeah, it's always good news when a court of unelected, appointed individuals, whose names are unknown to the public, dictate public policy.

How so? This is one of the things a court does. Here in the U.S., we call it "checks and balances": if the legislature screws up, the court can fix the problem by throwing a bad law out. I don't know what the legal principle is in Canada but I doubt it's dramatically different.

There's nothing to stop the legislature from writing laws which make no sense, laws which cannot be enforced, or laws which contradict each other. Somebody has to clean up the mess when they do, and that somebody is the court system. This is an old mess, but a mess just the same: the court has determined that Ontario's laws about marriage contradict its laws about human rights.

(IANAL, naturally, so those of you with legal training may feel free to correct me.)
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:48 AM on June 11, 2003


I could care less if gays can get married, I'm pissed because the Appeal Court of Ontario has usurped democracy, jumping the gun on something that the government was spending a lot of time and money debating and researching the long-term ramifications of.

And what exactly are the potential long term ramifications of same-sex marriage that you're so worried about?
posted by magullo at 8:04 AM on June 11, 2003


Okay, Dark Messiah. You are impressed that the gov't is spending lots of time and money debating same-sex marriage? You think that your tax dollars are well-spent on this issue that you "could care less" [sic] about? And you also believe that this is an exercise in sober debate, and not simply politically-inspired waffling? Bullshit. The politicians, most of whom agree with the Court, are actually thrilled to have this issue effectively taken out of their hands, because they don't have to make a stand that might cost them a few conservative votes.

And you think the courts are undemocratic? Well... do you think our Charter was arrived at undemocratically? Do you think that the job of interpreting the Charter is something that the person on the street is well-suited to do? For that matter, who appointed those justices? Wasn't it your elected representatives? I'm not saying that they are incapable of making bad or politically-motivated appointments; I am saying that this process is hardly undemocratic, and probably a lot more effective than direct judicial elections in terms of producing courts that are well-qualified and insulated from the vicissitudes of public opinion.

I'm also interested to know if you read the Court's opinion? What do you disagree with? Did these omnipotent, unelected bogeymen screw up somewhere? It looks to me as though they did their job: they brought their expertise to bear - as is their duty - in interpeting our Charter.

If you have a problem with the fundamental organization of the political entity that is Canada, maybe you should write your M.P. and suggest that time and money should be spent researching and debating that, since (to use your rhetorical logic) it's obviously an issue that you "couldn't care less" about. But don't spout bullshit about how the nasty court has usurped democracy.
posted by stonerose at 8:32 AM on June 11, 2003


I could care less if gays can get married, I'm pissed because the Appeal Court of Ontario has usurped democracy, jumping the gun on something that the government was spending a lot of time and money debating and researching the long-term ramifications of.

Which is exactly why the court needed to be involved. Just how much debate and research did they need?

None. They just wouldn't have done it, because the bar can always be raised, and more study can always be deemed necessary. Easier than actually acting on a hot-button issue. In the meantime, thousands of people are being treated unfairly.

Good for the courts. This is what they're there for.
posted by Epenthesis at 8:35 AM on June 11, 2003


Which is exactly why the court needed to be involved. Just how much debate and research did they need?

You're right, laws should be passed without asking the general population. It makes perfect sense!

Ignore the fact that this elite group made a good decision; what happens if they change their minds later? You still going to be cheering for the power of this 'elite'. (And, please, save the 'that will never happen' line. You don't know the future.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:13 AM on June 11, 2003


Messiah, has there been a case where the Canadian courts have made a bad decision (ie. one that discriminates and limits people's freedoms) and that bad decision has not been overturned or overruled either through subsequent legal action or government legislation?

None spring to my mind, so perhaps you're making a big deal over very little.

I also fail to see why there's any need to consult the general public when it comes to increasing people's rights and freedoms.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:27 AM on June 11, 2003


Um, not to knock this, I think its great, but, um, why is everyone cheering "hooray for Canada" Ontario is one province. Toronto is one city. Ontario does not equal Canada. Vermont and Hawaii have similar legislature, but no one is saying "Hooray USA!" Why not? Because there's a lot more to the US than Vermont and the same goes for Canada!

Regardless, good work Ontario!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:28 AM on June 11, 2003


Ugh, Dark Messiah!

To me, gay rights are as women's rights are as minority rights are as HUMAN rights. In a perfect world there should be no need for legislation to provide these rights, they should be a given.

Seems to me that the court is just confirming that.
posted by padraigin at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2003


Dark Messiah... this is not about passing new laws, but enforcing existing ones. Specifically, the Charter of Canada guarantees equal rights to everyone, and the law the legislature made did not meet that criteria, or so the plantiffs felt. So they sued to enforce the Charter.

If this is not the court's pervue, then who would it be under? The legislature? How can an individual go to the legislature and say they screwed up? They can't. It is judicial overview to review laws and how they relate.
posted by benjh at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2003


padraigin
why is everyone cheering "hooray for Canada" ... Vermont and Hawaii have similar legislature, but no one is saying "Hooray USA!" Why not?

Maybe because the current ruler of one country talks about legalizing pot while admitting he's never tried it while the ruler of the other country is happy to confess he was high for 40 years but is opposed to other people doing it (never mind that it has had 0 nasty consequences in his life, mind you). I know this thread is about gay marriages - but read comments 1 and 2. The cheering is not only about the coming marriages.

DM
laws should be passed without asking the general population

Just FYI, in any modern democracy most laws are passed without asking the general population. In any event, I was not aware of any judicial coup in Canada in recent memory. Pray tell me when the "elite" forcibly took over. Do you think OBL is behind it? Perhaps the US should invade it for the benefit of the local people ...
posted by magullo at 9:52 AM on June 11, 2003


This is great. Courts in BC (and another province, can't remember which) also have stated that the Feds need to allow for same sex marriages, so this small elite group isn't the first to have made the call for legalisation of gay & lesbian marriages. Polls have shown the majority of Canadians support it. And Klein's notwithstanding...well, it is Alberta.

This really is great news. Will the US have to recognise these marriages? A marriage in Canada is currently legal in the US.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2003


You're right, laws should be passed without asking the general population. It makes perfect sense!

The way I look at it is that a law is a restriction on something. The courts can't go ahead and say "Nobody's allowed to drive on Tuesdays!" but they CAN say that a law forbidding driving on Tuesdays should be gotten rid of. I.e. they can remove but not add restrictions. Marriage doesn't exactly fit this mold, but they are, from one point of view, simply removing the restriction that marriage be limited to heterosexual couples.
posted by callmejay at 10:08 AM on June 11, 2003


Its use with regard to such a personal issue would be, I think, unprecedented and extremely ugly, politically

Actually, we use it all the time for all sorts of fairly ugly things. For example, Canada has a child pornography law so broken that watching Lolita (either version) qualifies you as a sex offender. A judge threw it out a while ago, and the provinces merely used Sect. 33 to keep it around. Likewise, the government of Quebec is notorious for using it to violate freedom of speech through its use of the "language police". All sorts of other laws are kept around by Sect. 33, none of them particularly fun.

And since I doubt most yanks are aware of it, in Ontario, certain courts _can_ make laws. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Commission is responsible for adjudicating claims of discrimination or harassment, and has shown itself quite willing to prescribe mandatory measures of compliance not found in the original law. Canada's system is _not_ set up to "check and balance" itself, and no one in power seems very interested in starting to do so.

On a final note, marriage in Ontario doesn't require a marriage license anyhow. One can instead read the bans of marriage three times in a place of regular worship and if no objections to the union can be found, the marriage can proceed on the following Sunday. Gays have been married using that law for a couple of years now, IIRC.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:48 AM on June 11, 2003


Robert Bork was also railing against the power that judges have in Canada. In which case I'm all for it.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2003


Maybe because the current ruler of one country talks about legalizing pot while admitting he's never tried it while the ruler of the other country is happy to confess he was high for 40 years but is opposed to other people doing it (never mind that it has had 0 nasty consequences in his life, mind you). I know this thread is about gay marriages - but read comments 1 and 2. The cheering is not only about the coming marriages.

First of all, the current ruler of neither country is talking about the legalization of pot, decriminalization of small amounts and tougher sentences for larger possession, yes, but legalization, no. Um, comments 1 and 2 don't really talk about Canada as a whole either, so that doesn't help, but regardless, should we cheer someone's derailing of the thread because the derail suits our pro-gay AND our pro-weed positions?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2003


Pollomacho, I do think we're talking about two completely different attitudes - and perhaps that is what people are cheering. Then again, maybe I am wrong.

In any event, do you think Cheney's lesbian daughter wants to marry? Do you think her father approves? Do you see the elephant in the middle of the room now?
posted by magullo at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2003


The USA does not have elephants in the living room.

the current administration has banned them. go about your business, nothing to see here.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 PM on June 11, 2003


An American intepretation of the Canadian attitudes towards homosexuality and weed-smoking
posted by magullo at 5:19 AM on June 12, 2003


I don't get it. What different attitudes? Same sex marriages were actually legislated in two US States, but now a judge in one Canadian province says that they are not illegal by current provincial law and suddenly all of Canada is more tolerant than all of the US? Oh, well, believe what you want, but if Cheney's All-American lesbian daughter had wanted to get married she wouldn't have had to go to Toronto to do it. Some people just refuse to believe that a whole country is anything different than what comes out of a leaders mouth, even one that wasn't chosen by the people. Its easy for them to sit from afar and toss stones based on what they read in some news rag, but never bother to find out for themselves what the truth actually is. Yeah, its easy to throw stones when you live somewhere that's never done and never does anything intolerant.

Anyway, if they don't manage to eradicate SARS it may be dangerous to pass a joint in Toronto at a lesbian wedding.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:04 AM on June 12, 2003


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