Same Sex Marriage


Courts determine if there is any inconsistency in a law by reviewing legal challenges from people who are personally affected by that law. This issue of the Law Connection focuses on one such challenge – same-sex marriage.

The definition of marriage comes from a common law decision made by the English House of Lords in 1866, which decided that English Christian marriage was defined as "a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."  English and Canadian courts for over a century treated Hyde as standing for the proposition that same-sex marriages were not valid.

In Canada, all government-made laws must be consistent with the principles set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Once the Charter was enacted in 1982, however, Canadians began to bring cases challenging the common law bar to same-sex marriage.

The Backgrounder of this issue of Law Connection traces the legal history of Canada becoming the third country in the world to enable same sex couples to legally marry. The debate about whether or not the law should recognize same-sex marriages raises some interesting questions that senior high school students should be considering as they form their own opinions on this and other moral/legal issues.

By using the Teaching Resources, teachers will help students distinguish between acceptance and tolerance and learn to respect the right that people have to make the choices they wish, as long as those choices are within the bounds of the law.