would be nice if politicians would do the right thing for a change without a lawsuit.
However, if that's what it takes, we will keep on suing them until we have full
May 18, 2004
drags its feet on same-sex rights
While running for office last fall, Dalton McGuinty claimed to support same-sex marriage. The person now serving as Attorney General, Michael Bryant, seemed to be concerned about upholding human rights too. But campaign trail commitments and carrying through on them aren’t in synch right now. It's time to call Liberal commitments to question!
Ontario’s Court of Appeal changed the definition of spouse to include same-sex couples almost a year ago. On June 10, 2003, the Chief Justice of Ontario [Roy McMurtry, photographed between Joe Varnell andKevin Bourassa], along with two other judges (Justice James MacPherson and Justice Eileen Gillese), decided in the Halpern case that the definition of spouse was unconstitutional.
The Court stated: “...it is our view that the dignity of persons in same-sex relationships is violated by the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage. Accordingly, we conclude that the common-law definition of marriage as “the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” violates s.15(1) of the Charter.” The Court ordered a new definition of marriage in effect immediately that included “the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”
Certainly giving gays and lesbians the choice to legally marry was a landmark human rights victory. But Ontario’s statutes have never been amended to reflect this court-imposed decision. Dozens and dozens of statutes – including the Insurance Act, the Family Law Act, and the Pension Benefits Act — do not reflect the definition of spouse established by Ontario’s highest court. Even the Human Rights Code, arguably the most important of Ontario’s statutes, continues to define in law “marital status" to the exclusion of same-sex couples by continuing the loathesome, exclusionary distinction between “same-sex partners” and opposite-sex couples established by the Tory government. And for no good reason.
"It would be nice if politicians would do the right thing for a change without a lawsuit," said lawyer Douglas Elliott in response to the Ontario government's poor implementation of same-sex marriage and its ongoing battle against pensions for surviving same-sex partners. "However, if that's what it takes, we will keep on suing them until we have full equality."