Same-sex marriage in Newfoundland and Labrador

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Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. Marriages performed in some municipalities and recognized by the state
  2. For some purposes, from all jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal
  3. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  4. When performed in the Netherlands proper
  5. Registration schemes opened in all jurisdictions except Hualien County, Penghu County, Taitung County, and Yunlin County

* Not yet in effect

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Same-sex marriage is legal in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province has issued marriage licences to same-sex couples since December 21, 2004.

Court ruling[edit]

On November 4, 2004, two lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licences (Jacqueline Pottle and Noelle French, and Lisa Zigler and Theresa Walsh) filed a lawsuit against the federal and provincial governments, requesting that the Provincial Government be ordered to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.

Newfoundland and Labrador thus became the eighth of Canada's thirteen provinces and territories to have such a lawsuit filed. The Federal Government had recently ceased to oppose such lawsuits. The Provincial Government also did not oppose the lawsuit;[1][2] the provincial Attorney-General announced that his office will not oppose the suit.[3][2] The case began on December 13, 2004, and was heard starting on December 20, 2004.[1]

Justice Derek Green took only one day to decide to follow the precedents from the other provinces and Yukon and ordered that same-sex couples in Newfoundland and Labrador be issued marriage licences, thus making same-sex marriage legal in Newfoundland and Labrador. Justice Minister Tom Marshall indicated that the Government would comply immediately. Ms. Pottle and Ms. French were married on December 23 by Andy Wells, Mayor of St. John's.[4][5]

However, some officiants, including Gander Mayor Claude Elliott, and Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean said that they would refuse to officiate at such ceremonies.[5] The Provincial Government warned its civil marriage commissioners, such as mayors or justices of the peace, that they must perform these marriages or resign, as the marriages are now legal.[5] This mirrors an earlier move by the Manitoba Provincial Government.

Gordon Young, an evangelical pastor of the First Assembly Church of St. John's, asked the Newfoundland Supreme Court of Appeals to allow him to appeal the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. His case did not proceed.[2]

Provincial legislation[edit]

In April 2002, the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly approved amendments to the Adoption Act by allowing same-sex couples to adopt children jointly.[6]

In May 2009, the House of Assembly amended the Marriage Act by replacing the words "husband and wife" with "spouses".[7] Further legislation passed in December 2009 changed the definition of "spouse" to include same-sex couples in other acts, namely the Family Law Act.[8]


External links[edit]