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  New Laws for Gay Couples

Dateline: 02/14/00

The Canadian government is calling for sweeping changes to dozens of laws to ensure that same-sex couples will be treated the same as heterosexual common-law couples.

The proposed bill will affect 68 federal statutes and will cover everything from pension benefits and income tax to bankruptcy protection and the criminal code. The government is reacting to a Supreme Court decision last year in favor of a lesbian who was seeking alimony from her partner. Justice Minister Anne McLellan says the government is complying with that decision and other court rulings on equality rights.

"What the court has called for is to ensure equal treatment of unmarried relationships of the same or opposite sex." -- Justice Minister Anne McLellan.

About.com Poll
Do you support the Government's initiative to extend legal rights to same-sex couples?

Yes - It's about time.
No - I'm definitely against it.
Don't Know - I have mixed feelings.


Current Results

The long-awaited bill gives same-sex couples more obligations than benefits and does not alter the definition of "marriage" or "spouse." Nevertheless, gay and lesbian couples are glad that they'll finally be recognized under the law. "This bill signifies that the era of discrimination is reaching an end," said John Fisher, executive director of the gay rights lobby group EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere).

A handful of Liberal backbenchers are not happy with the proposed legislation -- saying that if benefits are provided to same-sex couples, they should also be extended to other couples in economically dependent relationships. Despite some internal opposition, the government should have little difficulty in passing the bill. The NDP and the Bloc Qu�b�cois are both said to support extending such benefits.

Officials estimate about 140,000 same-sex households in Canada. But the government expects the cost of the new legislation to be minimal. Although Ottawa will be paying out more in benefits, it will also be collecting more in taxes. McLellan said she hopes to push the bill through Parliament before the summer break.

Related Sites & Stories
  • Canadian Human Rights Campaign
    Canadian Human Rights Campaign is a national organization dedicated to providing leadership on human rights and civil rights issues affecting gays and lesbians.
  • Feds Table Bill to Treat Same-Sex Couples Like Common-Law Couples
    Gay and lesbian couples will get the same rights and responsibilities as common-law couples under federal legislation that advocacy groups are calling historic -- from Sympatico News.
  • Gay Canada
    "The largest and most comprehensive source of Canadian gay, lesbian and bisexual information on the Internet."
  • Gay/Lesbian Issues
    Deborah Levinson, your About.com guide to Gay/Lesbian Issues, covers all related issues and events.
  • Gay-Rights Bill Stirring Up Liberal Caucus
    The Liberal government failed to quell internal dissent among several of its socially conservative MPs who are threatening to withhold support on a controversial bill extending benefits to same-sex couples -- from the Globe and Mail.
  • Justice Canada News Release
    Minister of Justice Anne McLellan introduced an omnibus Bill (The Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act) that will amend 68 federal statutes to extend benefits and obligations to same-sex couples on the same basis as common-law opposite- sex couples -- from Justice Canada.
  • Liberals to Entrench Same-Sex Rights
    Anne McLellan, the Justice Minister, proposed legislation to extend the legal protection for same-sex couples in a move that is expected to affect dozens of federal laws in areas such as pensions, mortgages, immigration and taxation -- from the National Post.



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