Canadian Marriages Invalid? Ctd.

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2012

News cycles sometimes get mighty short. We opened this morning with the startling news that a lawyer for the Canadian government filed documents in a divorce case of a non-Canadian lesbian couple contending that their marriage is invalid because it isn’t legally recognize where they live. The couple was married in Canada, but live in Florida and England, neither of which recognize same-sex marriages.

Now the Conservative government of Stephen Harper is making noises that it will “clarify” the laws on same-sex marriage. The Globe and Mail now reports that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has backed the claims in the court filing, saying that Canada has no jurisdiction over the divorce despite the fact that the couple wed in Toronto in 2005. But he added, “I will be looking at options to clarify the law so that marriages in Canada can be undone in Canada.”

Other Canadian leaders have denounced the government lawyers’ position, calling it a global embarrassment for a country that prides itself for being on the forefront of human rights. Liberal leader Bob Ray called the position “illogical” and “ludicrous.” Harper said, “We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue,” although it must be said that if the Justice Department lawyers’ position is backed by his government, than Harper has reopened the issue whether it was his intention to or not.

The federal government’s position does not yet have the force of law. At this point it is only an argument before a judge, who has yet to issue a ruling. But it has already sparked a political controversy in a country where about two-thirds of its citizens support equal access to marriage.


January 12th, 2012

Just a gentle note – I know you guys are extremely scrupulous about transparency when it comes to posted items online (you will often cross out sections that you altered to clearly show what you originally posted).

That said, you might make allowances for the occasional copy editing. I’m pretty sure no one has yet been married in 2995 (unless we’re switching calendars), and there was at least one other grammatical error that appeared to result from a typo (rather than from usage).

I know you know all about why grammar / spelling / copyediting is helpful in communicating your message (clarity, accuracy, lack of distractions). I’d also point out that it would bum me out if someone thought less of the ideas in your piece because of technical errors.

Sorry. Blame my 7th grade English teacher :)

Great piece, otherwise, guys !

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2012

Sorry bout that teach!

John Egan

January 13th, 2012

This is a non-story.

The document floating around isn’t a judgement. Whoever wrote barely finished law school.

Their marriage was never in question in Canada: they eilgibility to get a divorce in Canada is. All that shite about “never legally married in Canada” is wrong. Because they never lived in Canada they can’t divorce up here. Same rule for opposite sex folks who marry in Canada as visitors…except they probably can get a divorce wherever they live. SS couples still largely can’t.

This is the work of one fuckwit or a few fuckwits sharing the same office. Not the first play in the Harper government’s plan to undo SSM–which the courts would overturn anyway. Even Harper’s WIFE supports SSM. So chill people.

BTW I am Canadian, an NDP member and in a same-sex marriage; in fact my husband and I were sort of the gay boy poster kids a few years ago:–same-sex-marriage


January 13th, 2012

Don’t jump to conclusions – people are way off base on this. No one in Canada is trying to make gay marriages retroactively illegal.

The issue is about non-residents trying to get a DIVORCE in Canada, which has always been difficult (even for heterosexal couples).

see details here:

Jay Jonson

January 13th, 2012

It sounds like this will be worked out by instituting some mechanism for allowing non-residents to be divorced. However, it is also a mistake to downplay the significance of a government lawyer, and perhaps the Minister of Justice, to say that non-resident marriages are not valid unless they are also valid in their home regions. If that is held to be the case, I suggest that a class action suit be filed against the Canadian tourist agencies that have been luring foreigners to Canada to be married. They have particularly targeted people who cannot get married in their own locales–why else spend so much effort and money to be married in Canada? Dan Savage asked whether this ruling would also apply to heterosexuals, such as a Saudi woman marrying a non-Muslim (which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia), or is this discrimination meant just for us?

Priya Lynn

January 13th, 2012

Mr. Egan, thanks for your encouraging comment. I’ve been so distressed since the Conservatives got a majority government and have since been ramming through regressive legislation in an attempt to turn Canada into the U.S. and the Conservative party into the Republican party.


January 13th, 2012

Thank you for the clarification, John and Eric.

(Hello, John, one more place to meet! :D)

Ugh, what a fine legal mess!

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