Same-Sex Marriages OK'd by Toronto Court. (News)

Article excerpt

The city of Toronto has started issuing marriage certificates to gay and lesbian couples, and two Canadian men were officially wed only hours after an Ontario appeals court ruled June 10 that Canada's ban on homosexual marriage was unconstitutional.

If not appealed further by the federal government, the province of Ontario would be the first government entity in North America to legalize gay marriage. Vermont and Quebec allow gay civil unions but not the full equivalent of marriage.

The three-person appeals panel ruled that the federal law allowing only heterosexuals to wed violated the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of Canada's constitution. A decision in May by a British Columbia appeals court had given the federal government until July of next year to change the law to include homosexual marriages.

But the Ontario appeals court said that to wait for federal action would deny gay couples their rights. The court restated the common-law definition of marriage as "the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others." It replaced "one man and one woman" with "two persons."

The case originated three years ago when seven same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses from the city clerk of Toronto. He held their applications in abeyance, pending court guidance.

Later joining the suit were two other same-sex couples, who were married in January 2001 by a Metropolitan Community Church pastor who had them follow an old Canadian law of reading banns--asking a congregation on three successive Sundays if anyone objected to the couple's intention to marry. …