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Canadian marriages invalid?

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2012

A document filed in Canadian court by the federal government seems to argue that the governemt’s position is that out-of-nation same-sex marriages are invalid. The Globe and Mail identified documents filed in the divorce case of a lesbian couple who resided in Florida and England, neither of which recognize same-sex marriages.

The position, which seems to have taken Conservative Prime Minister Steven Harper by surprise, in addition to being aggressive and pointless, introduces an issue that Harper insists isn’t on the Conservative agenda and is not likely to well serve the image of his government. A poll taken last July found that 61% of Canadians wish to keep legal equality

The courts have yet to weigh in on the matter (but are rather unlikely to weaken equality). And in response to the brouhaha resulting from the Globe and Mail’s report, I think it likely that the Harper government will soon ‘clarify’ that marriages are not invalidated based on their legality in other nations.

UPDATE:

GLAD, the ACLU, Freedom to Marry, NCLR, and Lambda Legal issued a joint statement encouraging gay couples not to worry.

No one’s marriage has been invalidated or is likely to be invalidated. The position taken by one government lawyer in a divorce is not itself precedential. No court has accepted this view and there is no reason to believe that either Canada’s courts or its Parliament would agree with this position, which no one has asserted before during the eight years that same-sex couples have had the freedom to marry in Canada.

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