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Northern wedding bells. (Canada).

Now that courts in three of the country's 10 provinces have declared that the federal government must grant marriage fights to gay and lesbian couples, it looks like there will be a showdown in Canada.

The latest decision came on May 1 from a court in British Columbia, which ruled unanimously that Canada cannot discriminate against gay couples. The federal government has until June 30 to reply to the B.C. ruling.

"They can appeal the decision, but they'll surely lose," said John Fisher of the Canadian group Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere. "Or they can just accept it and grant gays and lesbians full equality under the law."

Unlike similar rulings in Quebec and Ontario, the B.C. decision is the first to specifically rule out the option of a civil union system for gay couples, saying full equality in marriage is required.

A multitiered legal strategy by gay activists, who applied for and were denied marriage licenses in various provinces, resulted in the decisions. Though marriage falls under federal jurisdiction, marriage licenses must be administered provincially.
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Author:Hays, Matthew
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Jun 10, 2003
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