OTTAWA — Seven years after the federal government gave its blessing to same-sex marriage, it’s clear Canada’s gay and lesbian couples have been seizing the wedding day.
Same-sex marriage nearly tripled between 2006 and 2011, while the number of same-sex couples jumped 42.4 per cent during the same five-year period, Statistics Canada said Wednesday as it released a fresh salvo of census data focused on the country’s families and living arrangements.
The agency counted 21,015 married gay and lesbian couples and another 43,560 in common-law relationships — a sizable jump from the 2006 census, which counted same-sex couples for the first time and enumerated 45,345 of them — 7,465 married and 37,885 common-law.
In many ways, the jump in same-sex marriage is hardly surprising, coming as it does during the first full five-year census period to follow the then-Liberal government’s decision to legalize gay marriage in 2005.
The law was in response to a series of well-publicized court rulings that declared it unconstitutional to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry each other.
Proving a point, however, was never part of Alisha and Julie’s wedding vows.
The pair, now in their late 20s, who asked that their last names not be published, got married last October in Sackville, N.B., becoming the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in the chapel at Mount Allison University.
“Getting married was never a question, you know, like: ‘Oh, we’re gay. Should we get married?” Julie said.
“It was always that I wanted to get married for having kids, and I wanted to have a family and just be married, you know what I mean? Have that kind of commitment to the person you love and your family.”
The increase in the number of same-sex couples — married and common-law — likely has as much to do with a wider societal acceptance of alternative lifestyles as it does with the legalization of marriage, said Rod Beaujot, a demographer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.