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The registrar refused to accept the records of marriage, and a lawsuit was commenced over whether the marriages were legally performed.

In other provinces, lawsuits were launched seeking permission to marry.

The introduction of a federal gender-neutral marriage definition made Canada the fourth country in the world, and the first country outside Europe, to legally recognize same-sex marriage throughout its borders.

Before the federal recognition of same-sex marriage, court decisions had already introduced it in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, whose residents collectively made up about 90% of Canada's population.

Federal lawyers had ceased to contest such cases, A draft of what would become Bill C-38 was released on July 17, 2003, by the Liberal minister of justice, Martin Cauchon.The decision of the Ontario government to recognize two marriages that took place in Toronto on January 14, 2001, retroactively makes Canada the first country in the world to have a government-legitimized same-sex marriage (the Netherlands and Belgium, which legalized same-sex marriage before Canada, had their first in April 2001 and June 2003, respectively).Same-sex marriage was originally recognized by law as a result of cases in which courts in eight out of ten of Canada's provinces, and in one of its three territories, ruled existing bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.The court agreed with the lower court that the traditional definition of marriage was discriminatory and that same-sex marriage was legally permitted.However, unlike the previous three court decisions, the Court of Appeal did not suspend its decision to allow Parliament to consider the issue.

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