A Quebec superior court judge on Friday ruled that the federal prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, according to The Toronto Star.
Justice Louise Lemelin echoed an Ontario court ruling in July that said the Ontario government is required to register gay and lesbian marriages. The Ontario superior court suspended that ruling for two years to give the federal government time to redefine the term marriage. "The court has...sent the message loud and clear to Parliament: Stop discriminating against same-sex couples and respect the Constitution," said John Fisher of the gay rights group Egale Canada in a statement. "We call on Parliament to act now in accordance with the court's decision and allow same-sex couples to marry. How long must Canadians in same-sex relationships wait for equality?"
The case began with two men who have been seeking the right to marry since 1998. Michael Hendricks and Rene LeBoeuf, who have been together since 1973, first applied for a marriage license in 1998 and had been battling the federal and Quebec governments in provincial court until their victory Friday. "Requiring couples to be heterosexual to enter into marriage cannot be imposed by a legislature because it is a fundamental right," wrote Lemelin. The distinction based on sex "undermines human dignity and denies the applicants' equality rights under section 15 of the Charter," she added.
This summer, while their legal action was continuing, a law allowing same-sex civil unions went into effect in Quebec, but the couple rejected this option.