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2003 – Mazal Tov “Michaels”

January 27, 2010

Ontario becomes the first province to pass a law legally recognizing same-sex marriages.  The law says that “The existing common law definition of marriage violates the couple’s equality rights on the basis of sexual orientation under (the Charter)” (CBC News In-Depth).

Stark and Leshner

Stark and Leshner - aka "The Michaels" sign their marriage license, June 10, 2003, in Toronto. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2980250.stm)

The first couple to take advantage of the law are Michael Stark & Michael Leshner – known as “The Michaels”, who have been involved in the case since 2000 (Warner 222). “The Michaels”  become international icons and are voted Newsmakers of the Year by Time Magazine Canada. Their victory has much wider symbolic impact; according to Time’s Canadian bureau chief Steven Frank, “The two men have come to symbolize something much bigger: the unprecedented acceleration of social liberalism in Canada …2003 will go down in history as the year that Canada rethought what was taboo.”(http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2003/12/21/newsmakers031221.html)

The rest of the provinces follow Ontario’s lead. Finally, in July of 2005, after years of legal battles and public advocacy, Bill C-38 – Law on Civil Marriage, the law giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry, receives royal assent and becomes law under the Paul Martin federal Liberal government. Opposition leader Stephen Harper says that he will revisit the vote if he is elected Prime Minster. In 2006, the ruling Conservative government tables a motion in the House of Commons to reopen the same-sex marriage debate. Twelve Tories — including five cabinet ministers — break from party lines and vote against the motion, to defeat it by a vote of 175-123.

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