Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf

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Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf
Michael Hendricks (right) and René LeBoeuf at their 2004 wedding
New Jersey, U.S. (Hendricks)
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (Leboeuf)
OccupationGay rights activists
Known forFirst same-sex couple to be married in Quebec

Michael Hendricks and René LeBoeuf are Canadian gay rights advocates. At the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 90s, the couple helped lead ACT-UP activists in a fight with the City of Montreal to create a permanent memorial to Quebecers who died of AIDS. After several years trying to stop the grassroots efforts to create the memorial, city officials abandoned their fight in September 1994 and the 'Parc de l'Espoir' was built in the heart of Montreal's gay village.

The couple is also known for their advocacy of marriage equality in Canada and became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Quebec.[1]

In October 2019, at the age of 80, Hendricks found himself at the centre of a new battle with the City of Montreal for the Parc de l'Espoir. Without consulting the gay community or HIV/AIDS service organizations, the city's Ville-Marie borough sent a Notice to Residents announcing it had developed plans to demolish the AIDS memorial and rebuild it with an entirely new design. Hendricks and LeBoeuf mobilized the community to attend the borough's Dec. 4 public meeting where officials were told repeatedly that they did not have their approval to make any changes to Parc de l'Espoir. Fearing a scathing editorial in the Montreal Gazette, the borough dropped their plans and went back to the drawing board.


Hendricks, originally from New Jersey, came to Canada as a draft evader during the Vietnam War; he met LeBoeuf, a native of Quebec City, at a New Year's party in the 1970s.[2]

In 1996, the couple began to lead protests and parades seeking the right to marry each other.[3]

Hendricks and LeBoeuf v. Quebec[edit]

Hendricks c Québec (Procureur général)
CourtSuperior Court of Quebec
Case history
Appealed toQuebec Court of Appeal
Court membership
Judge sittingLouise Lemelin

In November 2001, the couple brought suit against the government of Quebec,[4] asserting that its refusal to perform same-sex marriage violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case began on November 8.

On December 7 of that year, the Quebec government announced its intention to bring in legislation to create civil unions to which same-sex couples would have access and which would afford a status equivalent to that of marriage. (The definition of marriage is a federal jurisdiction in Canada, but the provinces have authority over civil status, including the registry of marriage.) The bill was introduced on April 25, 2002, and passed on June 7.

Hendricks and LeBoeuf v. Quebec continued, and on September 6, 2002, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the Charter.[5] It declared that the laws preventing same-sex marriage would become inoperative in Quebec in two years' time, constraining the federal government to act within that time. Hendricks and LeBoeuf were represented in the original Quebec Superior Court case by family lawyers Marie-Hélène Dubé and Anne-France Goldwater.[6]

Although the federal government announced that it would appeal the decision and other legal decisions regarding same-sex marriage, those appeals were later dropped on the recommendation of the House of Commons Justice Committee, which had held travelling hearings on same-sex marriage.

On January 26, 2004, Hendricks and LeBoeuf appealed against the decision of the court in their case, specifically the delay of two years, in view of the rulings that had implemented same-sex marriage immediately in Ontario and British Columbia during the summer of 2003. They were represented in the appeal by lawyers Colin Irving and Martha McCarthy.[6]

On March 19, the Quebec Court of Appeal struck down the delay and ruled that same-sex marriage licences be issued immediately.[7]


Michael Hendricks and René LeBoeuf marry on 1 April 2004

Hendricks and LeBoeuf immediately sought their licence. The usual 20-day waiting period required between the issuance of a licence and the wedding was waived, and the couple were wed at the Palais de justice de Montréal on April 1, 2004, exactly three years after the first legal same-sex marriage in the Netherlands.[8] At the time of their wedding, they had been together for 31 years.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Longtime male partners marry in first Quebec gay ceremony Archived 2004-06-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Quebec's first married gay couple celebrates 10th anniversary of legal victory and wedding". Montreal Gazette. 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  3. ^ "Colin Irving a legal force for same-sex marriage". Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  4. ^ The Hendricks-LeBoeuf case finally gets its day in court, by Noemi Lopinto, Montreal Mirror, 22 November 2001
  5. ^ "Text of the ruling (.pdf format)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-22. Retrieved 2004-04-01.
  6. ^ a b "Anne-France Goldwater chosen to be Quebec’s version of Judge Judy" Archived 2018-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. The Gazette, July 29, 2011.
  7. ^ "Gay couples win right to marry in Quebec". CBC. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  8. ^ Taylor, Adam (2015-06-26). "What was the first country to legalize gay marriage?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  9. ^ "Quebec's first married gay couple celebrates 10th anniversary of legal victory and wedding". Montreal Gazette. 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2019-09-19.

External links[edit]