Canada 150: Marriage Equality

[press release]
Canada Post and The 519 unveil stamp commemorating the road to marriage equality
Stamp is the fourth in a set of 10 that will showcase historic moments from the last 50 years in celebration of Canada 150

TORONTO, May 9, 2017 – At an event today in downtown Toronto, Canada Post unveiled a stamp commemorating the 2005 passage of the Civil Marriage Act, which made marriage equality the law throughout Canada. Grassroots activists, government officials and community members attended the unveiling, catching the first glimpse of the new stamp, which features the iconic rainbow symbol. The unveiling was held at and in partnership with The 519, a City of Toronto agency committed to the health, happiness and full participation of LGBTQ communities.

The marriage equality stamp is the fourth in a set of 10 that Canada Post is issuing to celebrate Canada’s 150th year since Confederation. Collectively the stamps highlight historic moments that have taken place in our nation over the past 50 years. Canada Post’s stamp advisory committee, which includes historians, collectors and artists, selected these 10 milestones that together have helped shape the story of Canada.

The road to the legislation
Twelve years ago, on February 1, 2005, the Civil Marriage Act was introduced in Parliament as Bill C-38. After it was passed in the House of Commons and then in the Senate, the bill received Royal Assent on July 20, 2005, and marriage equality officially became the law. But the road to achieving marriage equality in Canada began long before 2005. For decades, LGBTQ activists and supporters from coast to coast to coast had fought for the rights of their communities, including the right to marry. In the late 1990s, the community began to achieve significant victories.

For instance, in 1996, the federal government passed Bill C-33 adding sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act; three years later, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same-sex couples should have the same benefits and obligations as opposite-sex common-law couples from social programs that they contribute to. A year later, Parliament passed Bill C-23 that made the Court ruling law.

Marriage equality debate takes centre stage
In early 2001, the battle for the right to marry took centre stage, after Reverend Brent Hawkes married two same-sex couples in a ceremony in Toronto. When the City refused to issue marriage licenses for these unions, it set off a series of heated court battles and public debate. The legal challenges culminated on June 10, 2003, when the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Within hours of the decision, Michael Leshner and Michael Stark were married in Toronto, the first same-sex couple to wed after the legislation. Similar court battles were also taking place in provinces across the country, and more provincial courts issued rulings legalizing marriage equality: B.C. in July 2003, followed by Quebec, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia in 2004. Finally, on July 20, 2005, the government of Canada passed the federal legislation that legalized marriage equality across the country, making Canada the fourth country in the world and the first outside of Europe to grant same-sex couples the right to marry the one they loved.

Today, with support continuing to grow across the globe, more than 20 countries have legalized same‑sex marriage on the national level. To hear more from LGBTQ community members and activists about this fight for equality, please visit canadapost.ca/canada150. To learn more about the work of The 519, please visit www.The519.org.

The next stamp in the Canada 150 set will be unveiled in Regina on May 16. The remaining stamps will be revealed individually at cities across the country, the last of them on June 1.

About the stamps
Each of the 10 maple-leaf shaped die-cut PermanentTM domestic-rate stamps measures 40 mm x 40 mm and is printed in 6 colours plus tagging. The self-adhesive stamps are available in a booklet of 10 (4 million stamps). A gummed pane of 10 stamps, with circle perforations 4.5 cm in diameter, is also available (80,000 panes). Official First Day Covers, one for each stamp design and each cancelled in OTTAWA ON, are available in a pack of 10 (10,000 packs). The stamp issue was designed by Roy White and Liz Wurzinger of Subplot Design Inc. in Vancouver, B.C., and printed by the Lowe-Martin Group.

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[press release]
Celebrating the Right to Equal Marriage and Continuing the Work for LGBTQ2S Human Rights
The 519 celebrates The Civil Marriage Act 2005 with the launch of Canada Post’s new commemorative stamp.

TORONTO, May 9, 2017 /CNW/ – The 519 is excited to be partnering with Canada Post for an event that will highlight the struggles for marriage equality in Canada, and celebrate this important moment in the country’s history. In this event, as part of the Canada 150 celebrations, Canada Post is releasing a new stamp to commemorate the hard-fought right of equal marriage in Canada.

During the struggle for equal marriage in Canada, The 519 served our communities by providing free, accommodating non-judgemental space where individuals, organizations, activists, and non-profit groups were able to meet, organize and work towards the goal of equal marriage. Many of our members and staff were an active part of the movement and we are proud to have been part of that journey and legacy.

Today, more than ever, The 519 continues to provide space for change through a number of important programs and services to meet the emerging needs of the LGBTQ2S communities. Today that space also reflects our leadership in building the capacity of public and private organizations and institutions to create inclusive spaces of their own. We also continue to work towards finding systemic solutions that address the social and economic barriers faced by the LGBTQ2S communities.

The fight for equal marriage that culminated in the Civil Marriage Act in 2005 represents the struggle and hard work of those who were at the forefront, but that time in history also stands for the power of working together and creating meaningful dialogue between the people, civil society, government and the courts. The 519 continues to believe in that power of conversation and is working even harder today to create a world where matters of equality and freedom are discussed and resolved with openness and love.
To know about our programs and services, our activities during Pride Toronto, or to learn more about our capacity building initiatives for organizations, media or general public, please contact us.

About The 519:
The 519 is a City of Toronto agency and a registered charity committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ communities in Toronto and beyond. We have an innovative model of Service, Space and Leadership and through our programs, services, and capacity building initiatives – we strive to make a real difference in people’s lives while working to promote inclusion, understanding and respect.

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