Team Pick: Happy Anniversary To Canada’s First Gay Couple To Get Legally Married!

Kristen’s Team Pick

Most wedding announcements happen in small town papers and the word barely travels outside of the area code. But a decade ago when Michael Leshner exchanged wedding vows in Toronto, his “I do” echoed across the nation. Because this wasn’t just any marriage, this was Canada’s first gay marriage. So when Leshner took Michael Stark as his husband, they not only became The Michaels but the face of a social justice movement.

The Michaels had already been together for 22 years as a common-law couple when Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General) ruled that the traditional definition of marriage was unconstitutional. Leshner proposed when the law passed through a lower Ontario court, but on June 10, 2003 the couple signed on the dotted and line and crossed the threshold into Gay Marriage.

This is our gift to Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s gift to Canada and hopefully Jean Chretien’s gift. Because we are just two ordinary Canadians who love each other. We’re not a threat to anyone. – Leshner

After Ontario gave a thumbs up to the gays, British Columbia followed suit with Quebec, the Yukon, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick making their cases in the following two years. By the time the Civil Marriage Act made it to the Supreme Court asking for all Canadians to be granted the right to marry regardless of gender, public opinion had begun to swing in its favour. And by July 20, 2005 gay marriage was a thing. Paul Martin, Canada’s Prime Minister at the time, put it thusly.

We are a nation of minorities. And in a nation of minorities, it is important that you don’t cherry-pick rights. A right is a right, and that is what this vote tonight is all about.

Canada started as number four, but now eight years later eleven other countries have also opened the doors to their citizens. But even here, with ten years of progress under their belts, the Michaels know we haven’t made it yet.

The marriage case drove the stake through the heart of legalized homophobia. There’s so much to be thankful for but still so much to be very worried about… we have to be very mindful that in parts of the world gays and lesbians are being seriously physically harmed or worse.

But hopefully the next ten years of their marriage will see us fixing some of society’s flaws. Happy Tin Anniversary Michaels, you guys deserve it!

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 139 articles for us.


    • It’s so crazy to remember gay marriage happening when I was in high school. I remember learning about it as a current event in my history class.

      • Me too!! It meant so much to me even though I had no idea I was gay at the time. <3

  1. My parents were super into this story tonight on the news, and the only somewhat questionable moment was, oddly, my dad’s commentary about their hairstyles, which, apparently, reminded him of Simon and Garfunkel. Sooo… the message I am choosing to take away from this is that gay marriage is OK in his books, but maybe not the alternative lifestyle haircut. Haha.

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