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Equality Moves Forward for BC Residents
More changes to provincial laws proposed by BC government

THE New Democrat government of British Columbia moved forward the equalizing of same sex relationships under provincial law yesterday as it introduced a bill to amend several more statutes.

Previous News
BC Government Supports Same Sex Marriage
Most of the 31 proposed changes contained in the Definition of Spouse Amendment Act 2000 are classified as 'administrative issues' and include adult guardianship, criminal injury, the Securities Act, and other contract-type arrangements covered under provincial law.

The Honourable Andrew Petter
"This act advances the principles of equality in BC statutes," said BC Attorney General Andrew Petter in a statement. "It is part of this government's commitment to fairness and equality for everyone - including British Columbians in non-traditional spousal relationships," he added.  "Correcting discriminatory legislation is the right thing to do."

The changes are part of an ongoing effort to create equality for same sex couples in BC.  The government commissioned a law firm several years ago to examine the hundreds of areas in the law which impacted relationships - through the use of the word 'spouse' and other.  About 100 instances were identified as requiring change, and yesterday's move was the latest in the effort to make them.

In 1997 the province amended the Family Relations Act and the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act to recognize same sex partners as well as common-law couples.  The next year BC changed public-sector pension and benefit plans to extend rights to same sex couples.  And last year, legislation was amended in five additional provincial statutes:  the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act, the Coroners Act, the Estate Administration Act, the Family Compensation Act and the Wills Variation Act.

Adoption by same sex couples was recognized as early as 1995.

"BC has taken a lead in the issues of same sex [relationship] rights and responsibilities," Kate Thompson of the Ministry of the Attorney General told gayottawanow.com.  The province's top lawyer has gone so far as to ask Ottawa to look at revising 'spouse' in the federal Marriage Act, she added.

Indeed, BC Attorney General Andrew Petter came out in support of same sex marriage on May 29th after Victoria couple Cynthia Callahan and Judy Lightwater applied for a marriage license.

"In a modern society there is no justification for denying same sex couples the same option to form marital bonds as are afforded to opposite sex couples," he said in a statement at the time.

The request by the Executive Director of the BC Vital Statistics Office, whose body issues marriage licenses, to have the application reviewed by the Ministry of the Attorney General was granted.  Results of the review are pending.