'Legal form' and the purchase of human rights discourse in domestic policy-making: the achievement of same-sex marriage in Canada
In the period 2003–05, law-makers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK took decisive action on the question of the legal status to be afforded to same-sex relationships. At one end of the spectrum, the Canadian Civil Marriage Act 2005 (commonly referred to as Bill C-38) reformulated the legal definition of marriage as ‘the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others’. At the other end of the spectrum, the Australian Marriage Amendment Act 2004 expressly added the traditional common law formulation of the definition of marriage to the Marriage Act 1961 (Aust): ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. In between these two extremes of full equality-based recognition and non-recognition are the partial separate but (almost) equal recognition approaches of the UK and New Zealand. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (UK) and the Civil Union Act 2004 (NZ) both provide for the legal recognition of a new ‘marriage-like’ relationship, while reserving the category of ‘marriage’ for heterosexual relationships.