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M. v. H. (recognition of same-sex spouses)

Pam MacEachern acted as co-counsel for the intervener Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE) in the Supreme Court of Canada decision M. v. H. in 1999. This landmark ruling concerned a same-sex couple, M and H, who separated after a lengthy relationship.

M sought spousal support. At that time, same-sex couples were excluded from the definition of “spouse” under the Ontario Family Law Act, which limited the definition of common-law spouse to “a man and woman”.

The top court declared that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the definition of common law spouse was unconstitutional. This was the first decision from Canada’s top court to hold that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the definition of common law spouses violated the Charter’s equality provisions under section 15 and was not justified under section 1.

This precedent lead to significant advances in relationship recognition for same-sex spouses across Canada.

 

 

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