While the Defense of Marriage Act and the legality of gay marriage is being debated in the United States before it’s highest court, a lot of Canadians are shrugging their shoulders asking “what’s the big deal?” That’s because, on July 20, 2005, Canada passed the Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. And for many Canadians, it’s a point of pride. Here’s the story of Canada’s gender-neutral definition of marriage by the numbers:

124-52: the results of the 1995 House of Commons vote rejecting legal recognition of same-sex marriages, the first time the issue was raised. Eleven years later…

175-123: the results of the vote rejecting the Conservative government’s 2006 motion to re-open the marriage debate. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said after that he “[didn’t] see re-opening it in the future.”

9: number of provinces (8) and territories (1) who had legalized same-sex marriage prior to the 2005 passage of the Civil Marriage Act. Same-sex marriage in Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories was legalized with Bill C-38’s passing.

3: nations who legalized same-sex marriage before Canada- the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), and Spain (2005). Should the Supreme Court strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and legalize same-sex marriage, the United States would be the twelfth nation to legalize it nationwide (the other countries are Argentina, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and Sweden).

64,575: number of same-sex couples in Canada counted in a 2011 Stats Canada poll, and of those…

32.5: percent are married, twice the number counted in the previous 2006 poll.

14/01/2001: the date of the first government legitimized same-sex marriage. This is not only four years BEFORE the Civil Marriage Act, it’s a couple of months before the first country-wide legalization of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands. When Ontario ruled in June 2003 that same-sex marriage was legal, it legalized all marriages performed before 2003. This makes Canada the first nation in the world to have a government-legalized same-sex marriage.

66.4: percentage of Canadians who approve of same-sex marriage, according to a 2012 Forum Research poll. The highest approval rating is Quebec’s (72%), while the lowest approval rating comes from Alberta (45.6%). Compare this with 49% of Americans, according to the most recent Pew Research poll, with 44% opposed.

5.3: percentage of Canadians who identify as LGBTQ, according to the same 2012 Forum Research poll. This number and others like it come with a few caveats, however- Stats Canada’s 2009 survey reported that 2 percent of Canadians aged 18-59 identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, while a long-standing Alfred Kinsey cliche says that 1 in 10 men are gay.

Steven Spriensma is a journalist and former news editor at Ignite News. He has a degree in Geography from McMaster University and an advanced diploma in journalism from Mohawk College.

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