First Same-Sex Marriage in the NWT
In May 2005, Jason Perrino and Colin Snow filed a lawsuit against the Government of the Northwest Territories for their right to marry. They argued that it was against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms not to be allowed to marry as a same-sex couple. Brendan Bell, the Minister of Justice at the time, said that the government would not interfere with the lawsuit. He said: “Hypothetically, if the judge rules that the federal legislation is deficient and orders us to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples, then we will abide by that….”
On July 25, 2005, 3 months after Perino and Snow filed their lawsuit, the Parliament of Canada passed Bill C-38, making same-sex marriage legal across Canada and making the NWT lawsuit superfluous. This gave Perrino and Snow the right to marry, which they did. Later, in October 2005, they were also awarded $5,000 for court fees, concluding all lawsuit matters.
On March 7, 2017, The NWT Legislative Assembly approved the Marriage Act, which defines marriage as “a voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others” and uses gender-neutral language when referring to spouses.