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May 19, 2000
City of Toronto to Seek Clarity on Same Sex Marriages
  
The City Clerk of the City of Toronto is seeking the direction of the courts
with respect to the legality of issuing a marriage licence to same sex partners.

"I have consulted with the City Solicitor," said City Clerk Novina Wong. "In
light of recent developments in Canadian case law, he advises that federal and
provincial marriage statutes and the common law- none of which recognize same
sex marriage - may conflict with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However,
only a court can make that determination."

The City Clerk's action follows the submission, on Friday May 12, of an
application to staff of the Clerk's office by a man seeking to marry his same
sex partner. Staff advised the applicant that they would consult with the
City's Legal Division as to staff's ability to grant a licence to a same sex
couple. A commitment was made to contact the applicant in writing about the
Clerk's decision. A letter went out to the applicant today.

Under the Marriage Act (Ontario), the City Clerk is delegated a discretionary
power to issue marriage licences. The Clerk will hold the application in
abeyance until a court decision is obtained.


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