Fonds F0019 - R. Douglas Elliott fonds

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R. Douglas Elliott fonds

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CA ON00047 F0019

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  • 1980-2004 (Creation)

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9.9m of textual records

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Fonds consists of records maintained by Toronto lawyer R. Douglas Elliott with respect to his representation of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in the matter of Halpern et al v. Attorney General of Canada et al, the landmark same-sex marriage case in Ontario.
The definition of marriage required that marriage be between “one man and one woman”. This opposite-sex requirement was challenged by eight same-sex couples as offending their right to equality as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the basis of sexual orientation. The opposite-sex requirement was also challenged by the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT) as violating its right to freedom of religion and its equality rights under the Charter.
On July 12th, 2002, the Divisional Court of Ontario ruled that the opposite-sex requirement of marriage infringed the couples’ equality rights under the Charter. The Divisional Court also ruled that the rights of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto as a religious institution were not violated. The Court was divided on the issue of remedy. The formal judgment of the Court declared the opposite-sex definition to be broken. The declaration was suspended for two years to enable Parliament to devise an appropriate remedy. If Parliament failed to act within two years, then the opposite-sex definition of marriage would be automatically reformulated by substituting the words “two persons” for “one man and one woman”.
In April 2003, a panel of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, composed of Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, Justice James MacPherson and Justice Eileen Gillese, heard a constitutional challenge to the opposite-sex definition of marriage. On June 10th 2003, the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the opposite-sex definition of marriage was unconstitutional, as it went against the equality rights set out in the Charter. The judgment upheld the previous ruling of the Divisional Court. As a remedy, the Court declared that the existing definition of marriage, “one man and one woman”, to be invalid. In its place, the Court provided a new definition of marriage as “the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others”, and ordered the declaration of invalidity and the reformulated definition to take effect immediately.
Records in the fonds document the case before both the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal. The fonds consists largely of case material presented before the two courts, affidavits, correspondence and working files maintained by Elliott and other members of the law firm, and transcripts.
Records from the 2013-079 accession document the legal work of the firm on the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada/Commission d’enquete sur l’approvisionnement en sang au Canada. There are also legal files relating to two cases argued before the Supreme Court of Canada: ‘M and H’ and Robert Latimer.

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