The End of Second Class (2006)

The End of Second Class is a Nancy Nicol documentary film that portrays the struggle for equal marriage rights in the gay and lesbian community.

It documents the lives of three gay couples from Ontario, Quebec and B.C. who challenged the Canadian government to pass legislation in support of same-sex marriage across the country.

The story begins at the grassroots level, starting with demonstrations in Toronto and Ottawa, which leads up to the building of a broad coalition of Canadians that fought alongside the gay community.

Their fight started with getting the courts and Parliament to recognize the Charter rights for all same-sex couples in Canada.

The debate was long and the opposition was well funded. In the film they describe the financing provided by Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian organization that was willing to thwart any effort to let gays marry. They also started a campaign to lobby government to stop the Civil Marriage Act (Bill C-38).

On July 20, 2005, after the bill had already passed in the House of Commons and the Senate, it became law. Making Canada the fourth country in which same-sex marriage was allowed.

The film ended with the three couples lawfully marrying their partners and celebrating during Pride Week in Toronto.

Now that the Harper government is seeking to re-open the debate on same-sex marriage, there couldn’t be a better time for this significant film to remind people how the battle against oppression for gays and lesbians was won, and the end of the second class status was achieved.

Adam Bemma is a journalist, humanitarian, and media consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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