CBC Digital Archives

Gay Winnipeg couple marries

It was a time of protests, legal fights and backlash. With a growing sense of solidarity, gays and lesbians became more visible in Canadian society in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s. Homosexuality gradually became more accepted as more Canadians came out of the closet to demand equality under the law.

Chris Vogel and Richard North, a gay Winnipeg couple in their 20s, were stymied in their efforts to obtain a marriage licence from the province. That didn't stop them, though -- they found a sympathetic Unitarian-Universalist minister to perform their marriage ceremony. Now, as they explain to Barbara Frum of As It Happens, they're in a struggle with the provincial government to have the union recognized.
• Before their wedding ceremony, Vogel and North had the banns read at a Unitarian church in Winnipeg. Marriage banns are a Christian tradition in which the names of the couple and their intention to marry are read for three successive Sundays before the wedding. The reading of the banns negates a couple's need for a marriage licence, but jurisdictions may refuse to register the marriage.

• Vogel and North were the first gay couple in Canada to challenge marriage laws. Ten months later, their appeal was ended when a judge ruled that a homosexual couple cannot be considered married because they are of the same sex.

• In 1982, Vogel filed a complaint under Manitoba Human Rights Act on the basis that the government was discriminating against him on the basis of marital status and sex. A government employee, Vogel believed he and his partner should be entitled to the same benefits (dental, life insurance, etc.) as other employees and their spouses. The complaint was dismissed the next year.

• In light of changes in 1987 to Manitoba's Human Right Code, Vogel launched another legal challenge in 1988. The case wound its way through the courts, and in 1997 the province's human rights adjudicator ruled that benefits should be extended to gay and lesbian employees.

• In 2000, many gay couples hoped to use the banns as a legal loophole for obtaining a marriage licence.
• By 2005, the Civil Marriage Act made same-sex marriage legal across Canada. This made Canada the fourth country to legally recognize gay marriage, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
• For more information on same-sex marriage in Canada, see the CBC News backgrounder on same-sex rights.
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Feb. 21, 1974
Guest(s): Chris North, Richard Vogel
Interviewer: Barbara Frum
Duration: 10:30
Photo: Jen Davis: www.gaypridewinnipeg.com

Last updated: June 10, 2013

Page consulted on February 26, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Gay and Lesbian Emergence: Out in Canada

It was a time of protests, legal fights and backlash. With a growing sense of solidarity, gays...

1967: NWT man jailed for being gay

The Supreme Court rules that a Northwest Territories man should be locked up indefinitely beca...