Same-sex marriage in Newfoundland and Labrador

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

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.[1]

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 suit 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 recently ceased to oppose such lawsuits, and in fact supported the plaintiff's side.[2][verification needed] The provincial attorney general announced that his office will not oppose the suit.[3][verification needed] The case began on December 13, 2004,[4] and was heard starting December 20, 2004.[2]

Justice Derek Green took only one day to decide to follow the precedents from the other provinces and Yukon and order that same-sex couples in Newfoundland and Labrador be issued marriage licences and as of December 21, 2004 same-sex marriage is legal in Newfoundland and Labrador. 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.[5][verification needed]

However, some officiants, including Gander mayor Claude Elliott, and Botwood mayor Jerry Dean said that they would refuse to officiate at such ceremonies.[6] 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.[7] This mirrors an earlier move by the Manitoba provincial government.

In May 2009, the House of Assembly amended the Marriage Act by replacing the words "husband and wife" with "spouses".[8] Further legislation passed in December 2009, changed the definition of "spouse" in other acts, namely the Family Law Act.[9]


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