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Abstract

The broad differences between the United States and Canadian cases raise important questions about the social, political and legal factors that have promoted the extension of marriage rights in Canada while retarding similar efforts in the U.S. This article will compare the recent history of same-sex marriage laws in the United States and Canada. We argue that proponents of same-sex marriage as well as lawmakers could learn important lessons from the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. Section II develops a framework for comparing the U.S. and Canadian experience with same-sex marriage law. The next section traces Canada's recent history of marriage law amendments. Section IV provides a parallel legal history of same-sex marriage rights in the U.S., including the recent introduction of the Marriage Protection Act (MPA). Section V systematically compares the two cases to illuminate those factors that have supported the extension of same-sex marriage rights in Canada and hindered the extension of equivalent rights in the United States. The article concludes that the Canadian experience presents several important lessons the U.S. could learn in order to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples and therefore uphold the Constitutional right to equal protection.