Court legalizes same-sex marriage in New Brunswick

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Map of jurisdictions in Canada permitting same-sex marriage as of June 23, 2005

A New Brunswick judge ruled in favour of same-sex marriage in a Moncton court today. Court of the Queen's Bench Judge Judy Clendening ruled in favour of four gay couples who argued that New Brunswick's current definition of marriage violated their rights.

In a written decision, the judge said that the definition of civil marriage would have to be changed from a lawful union between a man and a woman to a lawful union "between two persons." It gives New Brunswick a 10-day grace period to implement this change.

Alison Menard, the lawyer who represented the couples, says that in effect same-sex marriage is now permitted in New Brunswick. "What it means is that anybody that meets the definition of capacity to marry is able to go and get a marriage licence," Menard said. "So in this particular circumstance, couples of same gender will be able to obtain marriage licences and celebrate marriages."

As a result of this ruling, same-sex marriage is permitted in all Canadian provinces and territories except Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island.

Although Premier Bernard Lord has said he believes in traditional (heterosexual) marriage, he will not put up a fight if the courts or Parliament decide otherwise.

Several religious groups applied for intervener status in the case to argue against same-sex unions, but they were turned down by Judge Clendening on the grounds that her ruling would not preclude churches from opting not to perform same-sex unions.

The minority Liberal government in the Canadian House of Commons is pushing ahead with the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in the controversial Bill C-38, even though courts have legalized it in most provinces and territories of Canada.


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