Friday, May 21, 1999

Canadian ruling on
same-sex couples hailed

By Craig Gima


A Supreme Court ruling in Canada that grants same-sex couples the same benefits and duties as opposite-sex couples is "a huge victory" for gays and lesbians in Canada, but it is not clear if it will have an impact here, the attorney for couples seeking same-sex marriage in Hawaii said.

"It's really a landmark decision for the Western world," said Dan Foley, who argued the case now before the state Supreme Court seeking the legalization of gay marriages in Hawaii.

"Same-sex couples will have the same rights as opposite-sex couples throughout Canada," Foley said.

Foley said the ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court is similar to the opinion issued by Judge Kevin Chang that ordered the state to prove why same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry. However, the Canadian case did not address the issue of marriage.

"The issue of marriage was not addressed because it was not before the court," Foley said.

The case in Canada involved a lesbian couple seeking alimony rights after the breakup of a relationship.

The court ordered that the definition of a spouse as a person of the opposite sex is unconstitutional under Canada's equal protection clause. Similar cases are pending in U.S. courts.

Organizations opposed to same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships contacted by the Star-Bulletin said they had not seen the ruling and did not have a comment.

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