On July 20th, 2005, Parliament passed the Civil Marriage Act, making Canada the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage and the first one outside of Europe to do so, a milestone for many Canadian members of the LGBTQ+ community. This was following a long period of inclusive conversations between Parliament, the people, the courts, and the government pertaining to the decision of legalizing same-sex marriage. Eventually, the Court ruled unanimously that same-sex marriage was not only permitted by the charter, but flowed from it: civil unions would not suffice.
At the time of this Canadian nation-wide legalization, the United States had only a few states that had legalized same-sex marriage, but were making progress on the subject.
Today, more than 20 countries have recognized same-sex marriage, and the United States is included in that list. Same-sex marriage is recognized federally; however, the details of the ability and legality of marriage and divorce varies depending on the state.
Canada is said to be a leader in the field of LGBTQ+ rights. Although there is still some discrimination against the community that persists, major advances have been made toward formal legal equality and social acceptance. These advances include lifting the ban on gays and lesbians in military, allowing LGBTQ+ members from other countries to apply for refugee status if they were being persecuted in their country of origin, and allowing same-sex couples to adopt. In the past decade, Canada has become a safer place to publicly be who you are on the LBGTQ+ spectrum, as proven by all the recent politicians and athletes who have come out.
Like Canada, the United States has allowed the LGBTQ+ community to serve in the military from any state. However, it is still a different story all together in terms of equality. The legality of adoption, discrimination, and other subjects varies from state to state. For example, while same-sex adoption is legal in some states, it is legal for only married couples in others, only singles in others, and is ambiguous in many. Unfortunately, the United States has very little guaranteed protection for the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to things such as employment and housing discrimination. There is question also of whether Donald Trump's recent presidency will be working to reverse the new-found progress when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community's rights.
Despite this, both countries have made immense progress in making members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe and protected, and the progress is continuing rapidly.
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