Getting married on the top of Whistler Mountain offers the romance of sun-sparkled snow and a day carving the slopes after the ceremony. It's an increasingly attractive notion for gay couples looking to get married in British Columbia, where same-sex marriage was made legal last summer. Dozens of gays and lesbians will marry at this week's Altitude 12, the resort's 12th annual gay and lesbian ski week. It's expected to draw as many as 4,000 people, a far cry from the 380 who showed up in its first year. This year's event promises to be the biggest yet and will inject $1 million into the economy, according to Tourism Whistler.
The number of same-sex marriages performed in Vancouver continues to rise. The most recent statistics available show that from July, when same-sex marriage became legal, until the end of December, 1,400 gay and lesbian people were married. Of those, 766 came from the United States, mainly California, Oregon, and Washington. So far, British Columbia and Ontario are the only provinces that have made same-sex marriage legal since a Canadian court ruled that the legal definition of marriage could not read as only the union of a man and a woman. The federal government has asked the supreme court of Canada to clarify the constitutionality of gay marriage, and Prime Minister Paul Martin has promised to bring to parliament a bill to legalize it. "Fifty years ago you could still be thrown in jail for being a homosexual, and now a three-hour plane ride from here, you can get married," said Chris Ford of San Diego, who plans to exchange vows this week with her partner, Sandra Hernandez. "It is just an amazing thing."