January 28, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

Here come the brides, the grooms and a more equal Canada 

In growth and acceptance, Altitude has paralleled the fight for gay marriage, and now the Feds are ready to act

"In the next 15 to 20 years being gay or lesbian is going to be as important as being left-handed."

– barbara findlay, lawyer/activist, on the sociological impact of same-sex marriage

"I started the website to educate people that there is an alternative vacation destination. There are very few places that you can be yourself and be out – Whistler is one them."

Sean Kearn, founder of www.gaywhistler.com

"I think people are just thrilled to have access to same-sex marriage; that it’s so easy and acceptable here,"

–Lizz Kelly, owner of Whistler Gay Weddings



If all goes as expected, June brides will be wedding each other in record numbers across Canada this summer.

Sometime early next month Prime Minister Paul Martin will be introducing a bill in the House of Commons that will give gays and lesbians across Canada the right to marry. Vancouver-based lesbian lawyer barbara findlay (her preferred spelling), who specializes in law pertaining to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, sees the new legislation as a slam dunk.

"With the support of the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, the Liberals will have no problem passing this bill," says findlay, pointing out a previous three-party coalition. "It has worked before. They were able to stop the Alliance from passing a bill defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman."

She isn’t the only one optimistic about the bill receiving unencumbered passage.

Before Parliament breaks for summer vacation, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler expects that the right of same-sex partners to marry will be the law of the land.

Cotler’s statements to the Canadian Press came a month after the Supreme Court’s decision on Dec. 9 declaring same-sex marriage valid and giving the federal government the authority to change the definition of marriage. And in a move seemed designed to stem any potential controversy, the court, keeping with religious freedoms outlined in the Charter, reaffirmed those religious officials opposing same-sex marriages would not have to perform them.

The decision, as well as the introduction of the federal legislation, seems almost anticlimactic in the battle for gay and lesbian equality. After all, seven provinces and one territory currently allow same-sex marriage. Gay and lesbian couples can legally wed in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and The Yukon.

On Dec. 21, Newfoundland became the most recent province to come on board. The Newfoundland decision received minimal press. Was it a case of old news, or do we, as Canadians, see these legislative changes as a fulfilment of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s vision for a just society?

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