The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions

The ArQuives's Digital Exhibitions

Explore highlights from The ArQuives’s collections of personal and organizational papers, artifacts, ephemera and more!

Supreme Court Challenge

In the 1980s both Nesbit and Egan started to become more involved  in gay liberation again. In the late 1980s, Egan and Nesbit were “rediscovered” and because of this rediscovery of Jim Egan’s early articles, they received a lot of public interest as well as support in their spousal benefits case which reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 1995. 

In 1987, Egan and Nesbit applied for Nesbit to get the spousal allowance benefit that was covered by the Old Age Security Act. As they had been living together for almost 40 years, they met all the criteria to receive the benefit. However, Health and Welfare Canada’s denial of that benefit allowed them to make a court challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms since the denial was based on their sexual orientation. The case was dismissed by the Federal Court, and they appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

In 1995, The Supreme Court ruled and dismissed the appeal; however, it also simultaneously ruled that sexual orientation is in the Charter and therefore is protected from discrimination. This opened up many other legal areas in which the laws could be challenged and therefore was still considered a victory in that sense. This opening paved the way for future legal victories in the queer community such as the right to get married. 

In 1995, Egan and Nesbit were honoured with being the grand marshal of the Toronto and Vancouver Pride celebrations. They remained partners until Jim Egan’s death due to lung cancer in 2000; Jack Nesbit died three months later.

Supreme Court Challenge