I want to pick up on one of the themes running through virtually all of the papers in this symposium-the contradictory nature of law. Legal victories-and defeats-are always fragile, partial and contradictory. The perspective I bring to this theme is a Canadian one, where in the context of gay and lesbian struggles, legal victories now outweigh legal defeats. I will tell a story of these legal victories, which resulted in a much celebrated case in 1999 known as M v. H., in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the equality rights of same sex couples, and struck down a law with an opposite sex definition of spouse? This may sound like an unequivocal legal victory for gays and lesbians. But, the story that I want to tell teases out a more complicated understanding of the case, which will illustrate the contradictory nature of legal strategies and legal victories. Legal victories are never only legal victories, just as legal defeats are never only legal defeats.


Symposium: Re-Orienting Law and Sexuality