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Irwin Cotler, MP



Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the Civil Marriage Act

Posted on May 26, 2015

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago Parliament and Canada at large were in the midst of an intense yet generally dignified and democratic discussion about the recognition of same-sex marriage. Appellate courts began upholding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, and as the minister of justice in 2004, I referred the matter to the Supreme Court. The court heard from some 27 intervenors before unanimously affirming that same-sex marriage was consistent with the Constitution, and I was proud to draft and introduce the Civil Marriage Act in February 2005.

It took effect 10 years ago this summer, enshrining two fundamental charter rights: the equality rights of same-sex couples and the fundamental principle of freedom of religion.

At the time, Canada was only the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, and the first outside of Europe. Today, with the recent addition of Ireland, same-sex marriage is recognized in some 20 countries, with more to come.

This year, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Civil Marriage Act as well as the 30th anniversary of the charter’s equality rights provisions, we can be proud of Canadian leadership in matters of equality, freedom, justice, and human rights.