In addition, Section 15 and a few other Charter sections are subject to the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter that allows governments to declare that a law is exempt from the Charter for up to five years, which exemption may be renewed any number of times.
In 2000, Alberta amended its Marriage Act to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The rights of LGBT Canadians are now as well protected as those of other Canadians largely due to several court decisions decided under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that was included in the Constitution of Canada in 1982, with Section 15 coming into effect in 1985.
Some of the cases were funded under the Federal Government's now-defunct Court Challenges Program, which in 1985 was expanded to fund test cases challenging federal legislation in relation to the equality rights guaranteed by the Charter.
Same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults was soon decriminalized in 1969 as a result of legislation introduced in 1967, with then-Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Pierre Trudeau (who eventually became the 15th Prime Minister of Canada) famously commenting, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Although same-sex couples began being granted domestic partnerships similar to that of married opposite-sex couples, same-sex marriage was already legalized in eight of ten provinces and one of three territories beginning in 2003.
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The notwithstanding clause has never been used by the Federal Government; it is generally believed that this is because it would constitute a politically embarrassing admission that the law in question violated human rights.
On December 15, 2005, before his party formed a government, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that his Government would resubmit the same-sex marriage issue to Parliament without relying on the notwithstanding clause, but his first-appointed Minister of Justice, Vic Toews, publicly stated that he supported the use of the notwithstanding clause in some cases.