By Denise McCarty
A stamp commemorating Canada’s passage of the Civil Marriage Act 12 years ago was unveiled May 9 by Canada Post.
Enacted July 2, 2005, the Civil Marriage Act made Canada the fourth country in the world — after the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain — to legalize same-sex marriage.
The stamp is part of a set to be issued June 1 honoring historic moments from the last 50 years as part of the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The stamps are being revealed one at a time at different locations throughout Canada.
The next stamp in the series will be unveiled May 16 in Regina, Saskatchewan. The last unveiling will be on the June 1 issue date.
All of the stamps are shaped like Canada’s maple leaf emblem and are nondenominated with a “P” indicating they permanently pay the basic domestic rate (currently 85¢).
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The Marriage Equality stamp shows a section of the rainbow flag. Canada Post describes the flag as “a familiar symbol of pride for the LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two Spirit) community.”
The unveiling ceremony was held at and in partnership with The 519, a city agency and registered charity in Toronto, Ontario.
The 519 said that it “is committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ community. A City of Toronto agency with an innovative model of Service, Space and Leadership, we strive to make a real difference in people’s lives, while working to promote inclusion, understanding and respect.”
In announcing the new stamp, Canada Post provided a brief history of the road to marriage equality in that country, stating that it began long before 2005.
Canada Post said: “For decades, LGBTQ activists and supporters from coast to coast to coast had fought for the rights of their communities, including the right to marry. In the late 1990s, the community began to achieve significant victories.”
CBC/Radio-Canada provides a time line of same-sex rights in Canada on its website.
Legal battles for the right to marry in Canada began in the early 21st century. According to Canada Post, “In early 2001, the battle for the right to marry took centre stage, after Reverend Brent Hawkes married two same-sex couples in a ceremony in Toronto. When the City refused to issue marriage licenses for these unions, it set off a series of heated court battles and public debate. The legal challenges culminated on June 10, 2003, when the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
In 2003, same-sex marriage was legalized in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, and the following year in Quebec, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia.
All of the Canada 150 stamps will be available in self-adhesive form in 400,000 booklets of 10, and in 80,000 gummed panes of 10 stamps “with circle perforations 4.5 cm in diameter,” according to Canada Post.
In addition, the Marriage Equality stamp will be sold separately in a booklet of eight (Canada Post product number 414053111).
All of the stamps were designed by Roy White and Liz Wurzinger of Subplot Design Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia, and printed by the Lowe-Martin Group.
A total of 10,000 packs of 10 official FDCs — one for each stamp design and each canceled in Ottawa — will be made available.
When each new design is revealed, stamps and FDCs can be preordered online at the aforementioned website. Beginning June 1, these stamps and FDCs will be available here.
Also on June 1, stamps and FDCs will be available by mail order from Canada Post Customer Service, Box 90022, 2701 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON K1V 1J8 Canada; or by telephone from the United States or Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.
Canada’s stamps and stamp products also are available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.