Nova Scotia became the sixth Canadian province or territory to allow same-sex marriages when the province's supreme court ruled Friday that banning such unions is unconstitutional. In August three couples asked Justice Heather Robertson to rule on the contentious subject and on whether same-sex couples who have married outside Nova Scotia should have their status recognized in the province. Manitoba last week joined Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and the Yukon in allowing same-sex marriage. Saskatchewan's high court is expected to rule on same-sex marriage there in the next few weeks. Canada has 10 provinces and three territories. Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government has vowed to make gay marriage legal across Canada after the country's supreme court rules on the issue. It begins reviewing the matter next month.
The three couples who launched the Nova Scotia legal challenge are Brian Mombourquette and Ross Boutilier; Kim Vance and Samantha Meehan, who were married in Toronto when Ontario legalized same-sex unions in 2003; and Ron and Brian Garnett-Doucette, who have been together for almost 20 years and hope to marry. Nova Scotia had previously given gay and lesbian couples some of the rights
of marriage through a domestic-partnership registry that was established in 2001. On Thursday, Nova Scotia premier John Hamm declined to say whether he supports same-sex marriage but said he would abide by the court's decision.