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July 19: Canada’s Gay Marriage Law

July 19, 2013

canada_signBill C-38, “An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes,” was passed by the Canadian Senate, 47-21-3, on this date in 2005 and became law the next day. The law extended the legalization of gay marriage, already established by court decisions in several Canadian provinces, to the entire country, including the Nunavut and Northwest Territories. The legislation had been introduced the previous year by Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice (and a past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress), who is an international expert on human rights. Cotler has served as counsel to several prisoners of conscience, including Nelson Mandela, Jacobo Timerman, and Natan Sharansky.

Gay marriage “was a difficult issue for him. His Jewish community was against it, his wife was against it. Irwin had a hard time. As soon as he saw that, legally speaking, there was no other solution, he became a key player in the debate.” —MP Bill Graham, in Gay Marriage: The Story of a Canadian Social Revolution