The two couples, Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa and Anne and Elaine Vautour renewed their vows this Friday in Toronto.
The governments of Ontario and Canada refused to recognize the legality of the marriages. The couples challenged this view and their marriages were declared legal in Ontario divisional (lower) court in July 2002 and in Ontario's Court of Appeal in June 2003, at which point the marriages were registered.
In December 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the marriage of same-sex couples is constitutional based on the protection of equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Marriage in Canada was essentially redefined as being between between “persons” rather than being between a man and a woman.
On June 28, 2005, same sex marriage was approved by Canada's House of Commons and became legal for the entire country on July 19, 2005.
It is estimated there are over 7,500 married same-sex couples in Canada. These same-sex couples enjoy every legal and civil right and financial protection enjoyed by every other married couple in Canada including full adoption rights, the right to file joint income tax returns, property rights, employer spousal benefits, spousal inheritance rights, rights to spousal pensions, the right to make medical decisions if one spouse is incapacitated, as well as the right to divorce, to name just a few.
"Gay and lesbian people fall in love. We settle down. We commit our lives to one another. We raise our children. We protect them. We try to be good citizens."
California Sen. Sheila Kuehl