Same Sex Marriage in Saskatchewan
By Daniel Dalman
The year — 2003. The song — Toxic by Britney Spears. And my wildest fantasy was that Tom Welling (Superman from the CW series, Smallville) would appear outside my bedroom window and profess his love for me and propose marriage. It’s funny, given how wildly ludicrous this fantasy is to look back on and understand the considerable barriers that prevented this from coming true.
Because no matter how much Tom and I wanted one another, gay marriage wouldn’t be possible in Saskatchewan for at least another year. Having been only 17 when the decision was made, it has, in my mind, settled into an immovable fact — something that always had been and always would be. It’s an inexcusable and romanticized version of the word, one reeking of the privilege hard-fought by the generations of queer people before me. Therefore, I felt a revisiting of that not-so-recent history was in order.
In 2004, five Saskatchewan couples were denied marriage licenses, solely for being of the same sex. Not backing down, they turned to the courts to overturn this egregious offense.
Gay marriage was coming. And LGBTQ2S advocates were picking up speed across Canada. Ontario had made it legal the previous year. And while Saskatchewan and the few other hold-out provinces felt that rewriting marriage law was a matter of federal jurisdiction, another opinion prevailed. Madame Justice Donna Wilson of the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, that marriage is the “lawful union of two persons” and thusly, that a marriage between two persons of the same sex is legal and lawful in the province of Saskatchewan. She also ruled that, based on the human rights legislation of the province, the denial of marriage licenses to the couples based on their sex was illegal. History was made and the wedding dreams (or fantasies) of gay people were realized.
Federally, the decision was not opposed and within a year, a federal decision would make it legal across the entire country. Still, the battle here was hard-fought and just because the just side won, doesn’t make the pain of the fight any less real. It serves us all to remember how recent this event was — as we persevere for the fight for equality and acceptance of all sexualities and gender identities — so nothing may stand in the way of their dreams.
Daniel Dalman is a writer and avid Instagram-er living in Saskatoon. When not leaving people on read he can be found enjoying a glass of wine, dining out, and taking a spin class — although he rarely does all three at the same time. Instagram