Canadian government appeals gay marriage ruling

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 16 2002 12:00 AM ET

The Canadian justice department has won the right to continue fighting same-sex marriage in court, according to The Windsor [Ontario] Star. That means it will be several years before there is a final verdict on whether Canadian gays and lesbians can legally tie the knot.

The Ontario court of appeal has agreed to hear the federal government's challenge to last summer's landmark decision ruling that the province's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The appeal is scheduled to be heard in April, according to court spokesman John Kromkamp.

A gay rights group urged the government to stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a fight it says can't be won. "It is inappropriate for the government to be considering alternatives to equality," John Fisher, executive director of Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere, said Thursday. "It's clear that the government has no real option. It must obey the constitution and extend the law."

In July the Ontario divisional court sided with eight gay and lesbian couples by ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage is an egregious infringement of equality guarantees in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court gave Ottawa two years to change marriage laws. In a written brief filed in the Ontario court of appeal, the government said that allowing gays and lesbians to wed violates long-held societal views that are rooted in religion, history, and anthropology.

"My reaction [is], it's just too bad Canadian tax dollars have to be wasted," said Hedy Halpern, one half of a Windsor gay couple who helped to launch the original court challenge. "They're continuing to fight this even though the charter states that discrimination is wrong, that it's illegal. We just have to continue to believe that clearer heads will prevail."