Same-sex marriage in Prince Edward Island

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The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island began the process of updating its laws to recognize same-sex marriage after the passage in the House of Commons of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, the federal law recognizing same-sex marriage. It had been one of only four provinces and territories, with Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, where same-sex marriage had not already been legalized by court challenges prior to the passage of Bill C-38.[1][2]


On December 10, 2004, Premier Pat Binns stated that his government would wait for federal legislation to resolve the issue. It is unclear how Binns would have reacted if a provincial court had found the traditional definition of marriage in violation of the Charter rights of gays and lesbians.[1]

After the Canadian House of Commons passed Bill C-38 in June 2005, provincial attorney-general Mildred Dover announced that the province would bring provincial legislation in line with the bill, which passed through the Senate in July and received royal assent the next day on July 20, 2005.[3]

However, Ms. Dover announced that same-sex marriage licences would not be issued until the province's laws were updated. That could take until the autumn.[4] This is different from how the process has worked in other provinces; in those where courts called for same-sex marriage, and in Alberta after C-38 was passed.

Complaints immediately arose charging that the delay imposed by the province was illegal and violated the legal rights of same-sex couples. In response to these complaints, the province reversed its position. The first same-sex couple to wed on Prince Edward Island were Dr. Chris Zarow and Constance Majeau on August 20, 2005, as reported in the Guardian.[2]

Subsequent changes[edit]

In May 2008, a bill which amended the Marriage Act, the Adoption Act and many other acts was given royal assent. It replaced the words "husband and wife" with "spouses" in the Marriage Act thus adding a gender neutral definition of spouse. The Adoption Act was amended by allowing same-sex couples to adopt children jointly.[5] The law took effect on 19 December 2009.[6]


  1. ^ "P.E.I. proclaims same-sex marriage amendments". Charlottetown: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 December 2009. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Same-sex marriage in the province of Prince Edward Island, Canada". Kingston: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 9 July 2005. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  3. ^ (Globe and Mail) Archived July 9, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "P.E.I. at a loss for words over same-sex marriage". Charlottetown: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 July 2005. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Domestic Relations Act" (PDF). Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly. Retrieved February 13, 2016. 

External links[edit]