Canadian Supreme Court Gives Legal Recognition to Lesbian and Gay Couples

In a tremendous victory for lesbian and gay rights, the Canadian Supreme Court today ruled that the Canadian province of Ontario must rewrite its laws to include same-sex couples, arguing that its current definition of “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex is unconstitutional.

The case was brought by a Toronto woman who sought alimony from her former lesbian partner and was denied. The women, who had lived together for over five years, owned a home together, and started a business together, later settled their finances privately. Nevertheless, judicial review of the law continued.

University of Western Ontario political science professor Ian Brodie noted that the decision is a huge win for supporters of gay rights, given that “spouses get special treatment not just in family law, but in all sorts of other law, too.”

The Supreme Court decision will likely prompt the revision of hundreds of laws throughout Canada’s provinces and its federal government.


AP - May 20, 1999

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