A Saskatchewan court ruling Friday made the Canadian prairie province the country's seventh jurisdiction to allow same-sex couples to wed.
In a five-page ruling, Justice Donna Wilson sided with courts in five other provinces and one territory, saying existing marriage laws discriminate against gay couples and were unconstitutional. "The common-law definition of marriage for civil purposes is declared to be 'the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others,'" Wilson wrote.
The Saskatchewan ruling came after five same-sex couples went to court seeking the right to wed. At least one couple said they plan to say their vows as early as this weekend. Courts in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, the Yukon, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia have already ruled the same way.
There are currently two couples challenging the law in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the supreme court of Canada is in the process of evaluating a draft federal law that could make gay weddings legal from coast to coast. The high court is expected to rule next year. The Saskatchewan challenge was not contested by either the province or the federal government. Lawyers for both told Wilson that they did not oppose the application but were not able to support it either.
The federal government maintained it could not back the change because of the matter currently before the supreme court, while the provincial government sidestepped the issue by saying marriage is a federal jurisdiction. The challenge was spearheaded by Nicole White and Julie Richards of Saskatoon. They plan to get married next September.