01/10/2018 10:34 EST | Updated 01/10/2018 11:02 EST

Winnipeg couple dealt setback in fight to have 1974 same-sex marriage registered

WINNIPEG — Two men from Winnipeg have been dealt a setback in a decades-long fight to have their marriage registered with the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency.

Nearly 44 years ago, a Unitarian Church minister proclaimed the banns of marriage for Rich North and Chris Vogel, even though same-sex marriage was not recognized in Canada at the time.

But the vital statistics agency refused to register the union and when they appealed, a judge declared the marriage a nullity.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Manitoba in 2004 and across Canada in 2005, but North and Vogel have still been unable to have their marriage registered.

An adjudicator this week dismissed a human rights complaint, saying it was not his place to overturn, revise or ignore the 1974 court ruling.

Vogel says he and North hope a judicial review of the decision by the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench will be successful.

He says keeping up the fight is about principle as well as practicalities.

"In emergencies of course it can be quite critical," he says. "We're getting old and that's when these kinds of things come into play."