Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf

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Michael Hendricks (right) and René Leboeuf at their 2004 wedding

Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf are Canadian gay rights advocates, known for their advocacy of same-sex marriage in Canada. They were the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Quebec.[1]


Hendricks, originally from New Jersey, came to Canada as a draft dodger during the Vietnam War; he met Leboeuf, a native of Quebec City, at a New Year's party in the 1970s.

In 1996, the couple began to lead protests and parades seeking the right to marry each other.

Hendricks and Leboeuf v. Quebec[edit]

In November 2001, the couple brought suit against the government of Quebec,[2] asserting that its refusal to perform same-sex marriage violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case began on November 8.

On December 7 of that year, the Quebec government announced its intention to bring in legislation to create civil unions to which same-sex couples would have access and which would afford a status equivalent to that of marriage. (The definition of marriage is a federal jurisdiction in Canada, but the provinces have authority over civil status, including the registry of marriage.) The bill was introduced on April 25, 2002, and passed on June 7.

Hendricks and Leboeuf v. Quebec continued, and on September 6, 2002, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the Charter.[3] It declared that the laws preventing same-sex marriage would become inoperative in Quebec in two years' time, constraining the federal government to act within that time. Hendricks and Leboeuf were represented in the original Quebec Superior Court case by family lawyers Marie-Hélène Dubé and Anne-France Goldwater.[4]

Although the federal government announced that it would appeal the decision and other legal decisions regarding same-sex marriage, those appeals were later dropped on the recommendation of the House of Commons Justice Committee, which had held travelling hearings on same-sex marriage.

On January 26, 2004, Hendricks and Leboeuf appealed against the decision of the court in their case, specifically the delay of two years, in view of the rulings that had implemented same-sex marriage immediately in Ontario and British Columbia during the summer of 2003. They were represented in the appeal by lawyers Colin Irving and Martha McCarthy.[4]

On March 19, the Quebec Court of Appeal struck down the delay and ruled that same-sex marriage licences be issued immediately.


Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf marry on 1 April 2004

Hendricks and Leboeuf immediately sought their licence. The usual 20-day waiting period required between the issuance of a licence and the wedding was waived, and the couple were wed at the Palais de justice de Montréal on April 1, 2004, exactly three years after the first legal same-sex marriage in the Netherlands. At the time of their wedding, they had been together for 31 years.

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