Same-Sex Marriage in the Context of Family Law

Since time immemorial, marriage was and has always been known to be “a union between two people of the opposite sex meaning a man and a woman,” (Kronby, 2010, p. 32). For Christians and many other religions and cultural beliefs, this has always been the case. This implies that marriage is only supposed to take place between a man and a woman. But in the modern century, there has been a massive change in this concept. Many people of the same sex are now getting married to each other contrary to normal belief. Gay marriages have now become a common part of the family and the world as a whole. Most actively involved in this type of union are the males who have gone to such a great extent that they have even come out in the open to showcase their gay status and claim to be free. On the other hand, their female counterparts are still afraid to come out in the open but complain behind closed doors as they demand a right they cannot openly fight for. It is common knowledge that this act started or better still cropped up in the west and is now slowly but definitely creeping into the other parts of the world. This essay examines the origin of same-sex marriages in the context of family law.

In reference to Canadian law, the essay examines how same-sex marriages were made legal in the country. The curtain rolled down with a senator expressing his total support for opposite-sex marriages but also went ahead with the others to legalize same-sex marriage. Steve Harper, a conservative party leader, while addressing the house of commons about bill c-38 Feb 16, 2005, remarkably said that it would be an utter surprise for people to believe that he fully supports the old belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. In July 2005 Canada passed a law that saw same-sex marriage being made legal once and for all (Boyd, 2007, p. 261). This made it the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages and allow homosexuals to wed. This judgment gave Canada a new description as a country that is tolerant and decent.

For a long time now, gays and lesbians have been stigmatized and termed as freaks, deviant, and considered not only as social outcasts but also social misfits. Passing the bill made them be regarded as total and equal members of the family as this marked the end of a dark period for homosexuals. The bill gave homosexuals the right to perform the civil wedding. As was expected, most religious organizations were opposed to the bill though it was clear that the rulings could not affect their religious operations. This is because they had the right not to allow gays and lesbians to perform their marriages within religious environments such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. If anything, the bill only gives the rights to homosexual men and women to have civil unions alone. In the opening clause of the Canadian Law, it states that everyone (homosexuals included) is equal before and under the law (Boyd, 2007, p. 262). This means that no one has the right to discriminate against the other because of his or her sexual status.

The Supreme Court also says that most of the same sex Canadian couples have married within the specified legislation, so in their opinion,n no one is doing or has done anything contrary to the law. Same-sex marriages have now become a usual thing in Canada because the country legalized this through a bill. It is also clear that Canada was just the fourth country to legalize gay marriages, and that same-sex marriages have been there for the past twenty-five years. This means that Canada only followed in the footsteps of other countries in a bid to make some of her citizens with odd sexual attraction feel accepted and not left out as was the case before. Homosexual marriages were thus made legal and became popular because of the legalization of this act by different countries. Most western countries always try to make all their citizens feel safe and secure irrespective of their different behaviors that are contrary to normal beliefs. In 2006 it was found out that the Canadian family was changing with many marriages turning into divorce and many women deciding to get children as single mothers and staying in that status for so long and this might be another reason that led to gay marriages because most people feared divorce. The sociologist John Conway said that the difference in the family is becoming more and more diverse and is also taking a new route. Normally, “a family is made up of a father, mother and the children,” (Kronby, 2010, p. 32). The family can be nuclear, extended, or sometimes single parent families which can be caused by divorce of the spouse or death of a spouse. Based on the definition of a family, the question that arises is: do same-sex marriages make a household and hence a family? Do they have duties with respect to the property, support, and custody outside marriage? The response is yes as the state will intervene in the absence of marriage to give familial obligations to all individuals. This should be so as most people become gay after a failed marriage or some people are bisexuals. At some point they find themselves in love with same-sex members, get married and have children then somewhere along the way the equilibrium shifts to same-sex attraction. Most couples cannot always stand this and so decide to let go of the other.

Giving more attention to the Supreme Court, the bill has its strengths and weaknesses just like any other legal document. Its strong part is that it tries to give support to all its citizens irrespective of their weaknesses in many areas. The first one is that when against all the opposition from religious organizations, Canada decided to pass a bill that legalizes same-sex marriages. It then went ahead and spelled out the rights to every individual citizen including all the gay couples. This not only made the gay people feel happy but also accepted in the community. They feel safe and not discriminated against or stereotyped. The court did this by making it easy for people of the same sex to have a civil union (Boyd, 2007, p. 263). This was to show values of tolerance, respect, and equality.

On the negative side, the bill has a weakness in that it says that it is not bad to publicly hold and express one’s different opinions on marriage. This does not fully protect homosexuals from being discriminated against and stereotyped. It also says that same-sex marriages are only recognized as a union but not as an institution (Boyd, 2007, p.262). This means they have no marital rights. Many questions have been asked with reference to same-sex marriages, and apparently, most of these are fully supported by Canadian law. Only a few are not supported because such provisions were not made for them by the Supreme Court. For example, with reference to a document on same-sex marriages, questions one, two, and three are well supported by Canadian law as was written in the Supreme Court but question four is not (Reference Re: same-sex marriage, 2004, pp. 3-5). This might be as a result of not wanting to enhance the rights of gays at the expense of the rights of other citizens. This makes same-sex marriages legal just as marriage between heterosexuals. As long as the citizens feel safe and secure and as long as the law has been passed, the rest of the Canadian citizens have no choice but to accept the legalization of same-sex marriages.


Boyd, N. (2007). Canadian Law. New York: Thomson Nelson.

Kronby, M. (2010). Canadian Family Law. Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd.

Reference Re: Same-Sex Marriage. (2004). Web.

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