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Canadian law has established the legalization of same-sex marriages nationwide. However, some provinces and territories came to it at different times. Here is the chronological time line for nine provinces and/or territories, prior to the national legalization of gay marriage:
On February 1, 2005, Bill C-38 was introduced by Justice minister Irwin Cotler. This bill legalized across Canada marriage between persons of the same sex. About two years earlier, a draft of this bill was released by Martin Cauchon, the Minister of Justice. It was intended as a reference to the Supreme Court, requesting them to rule on whether reserving the right of marriage to heterosexual couples was consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, same-sex civil unions would be an acceptable alternative. At the end of 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same-sex marriage was indeed constitutional. The federal government then had the authority to amend their definition of marriage. Also established was that the protection of freedom of religion gave religious institutions the right not to perform same-sex weddings if they so chose.
The “don't ask, don't tell” policy concerning homosexuals in the United States military is definitely not a policy the Canadian military has had to deal with. In fact, for roughly the last five years, same-sex unions have been blessed by military chaplains. In addition, ceremonies have even been performed on actual military bases. In June of 2005, the Canadian military announced its first same-sex marriage, which was presided over a month prior by a minister of the United Church in Nova Scotia's CFB at Greenwood.
Once the Civil Marriage Act had been enacted, the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) made a temporary immigration policy that did not recognize same-sex unions that took place outside of Canada – regardless of whether or not the marriage took place in a another country that also recognized legal same-sex unions. However, in late 2006, Bill Siksay the New Democratic Party MP called on the CIC to "recognize legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed in jurisdictions outside Canada for purposes of immigration in exactly the same way as the legal marriages of heterosexual couples are recognized.” One month later, this request was granted.
On July 20, 2005, Canada joined Holland, Belgium, Spain, and South Africa in the exclusive list of countries that have legalized gay marriages. This was established through the Civil Marriage Act. Beginning in 2003, Canadian courts had already legalized same-sex marriages in eight of their ten provinces, as well as one of the three territories. Prior to the legalization of gay marriage in Canada, legal benefits that were similar to those afforded to heterosexual couples had already been extended to same-sex couples who were living together, dating back to 1999.
Since gay marriage was made legal by the Civil Marriage Act in 2005, thousands of gay and lesbian couples in Canada flocked to the altar from June 2003 to October 2006. Who has the highest rate of same-sex marriages in the nation? Ontario tops the list, with 6,524. This is followed by British Columbia, with 3,927 marriages taking place. Quebec had 947, while Alberta had 409. The lowest number of same-sex marriages during that time period were held by Price Edward Island (8), Northwest Territories (2), and Nunavut (1).