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Landmark Case: The Same Sex Marriage Case – Halpern et al. v. Attorney General of Canada et al.

Each OJEN Landmark Case includes a case summary, classroom discussion questions and worksheets that encourage students to explore both the legal and societal importance of the case.

The common law definition of marriage requires that marriage be between “one man and one woman.” This opposite-sex requirement was challenged by eight same-sex couples as offending their right to equality as guaranteed by s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the basis of sexual orientation.

The opposite-sex requirement was also challenged by the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto as violating its right to freedom of religion under s. 2(a) of the Charter and its equality rights under s. 15(1) of the Charter on the basis of religion.

The Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the exclusion of same-sex couples constituted a violation of the equality rights provision of the Charter and was not saved under s. 1. The full decision is available here.

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