Concept

Same-sex marriage in Ontario

Summary
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Ontario since June 10, 2003. The first legal same-sex marriages performed in Ontario were of Kevin Bourassa to Joe Varnell, and Elaine Vautour to Anne Vautour, by Reverend Brent Hawkes on January 14, 2001. The legality of the marriages was questioned and they were not registered until after June 10, 2003, when the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Halpern v Canada (AG) upheld a lower court ruling which declared that defining marriage in heterosexual-only terms violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ontario became the third jurisdiction in the world (after the Netherlands and Belgium) as well as the first jurisdiction in the Americas to legalise same-sex marriage. The first legal same-sex marriage registered in Ontario was that of Paula Barrero and Blanca Mejias, married by banns at the Emmanuel Howard Park United Church on September 29, 2001 by Reverend Cheri DiNovo and registered the same year. The Office of the Registrar General apparently did not recognise the names as both being women and issued a marriage certificate. The marriage licence form requested only the names of the bride and groom, not the sex of the applicants. All of these marriages were authorised by calling the banns in the spouses' churches. The first civil marriage licence issued to a same-sex couple was to Michael Leshner and Michael Stark, who had the usual waiting period waived and completed the formalities of marriage just hours after the court ruling, on June 10, 2003. In 1993, the Ontario Superior Court ruled in Layland v. Ontario that same-sex couples did not have the capacity to marry each other. However, that decision was non-binding as it was the same court taking up the issue in 2002. One of the judges in the most recent case wrote "with respect, the decisions to which I have referred assumed, without analysis, that the inability of persons of the same sex to marry was a question of capacity. The decisions are not binding on this court and, with respect, I do not find them persuasive.
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