The question of who can get married in Canada has been evolving in recent history, particularly with the legalization in 2005 of same-sex marriage. Yet the question of who can perform a marriage has remained largely unchallenged.
The solemnization of marriage is provincial jurisdiction in Canada and governed by provincial Marriage Acts. Most of these laws are written in similar language and derived from English common law. In most provinces, there are generally two classes of people who can solemnize a marriage: representatives of recognized religious bodies and individuals appointed by the government (such as a marriage commissioner or justice of the peace).
Conspicuously left out of this regime are people who have a belief system that most would not recognize as religious, such as Humanists. Though a marriage commissioner may be suited for those with no particular beliefs, Humanists are not given the same right to perform marriages for their members according to their traditions as the religious are.
Given the principles of equality and religious freedom at play and the changing religious landscape of British Columbia, the laws governing marriage ceremonies are woefully antiquated.
The following chapters represent our evolving report, first published in March 2017, on the case for Humanist marriage reform in British Columbia.
- Changing religious demographics
- Criminal Code offences
- Marriage in British Columbia
- Marriage across Canada
- Marriage in Australia and New Zealand
- Marriage in Iceland
- Marriage in Ireland
- Marriage in Norway
- Marriage in the United Kingdom
- Marriage in the United States of America
- Previous steps taken in British Columbia
- The path forward
A special thanks to: Ian Bushfield, JB Bell, Sarah Hayes
First published: March 8, 2016