Canadian Policy Establishes: Same-Sex Couples From Abroad Not Actually Married


The Canadian Globe and Mail:

The Harper government has served notice that thousands of same-sex couples who flocked to Canada from abroad since 2004 to get married are not legally wed.

... speaking in Halifax Thursday, the Prime Minister said the issue was not on the agenda for his majority Conservatives. “We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue,” Stephen Harper told reporters when asked about The Globe and Mail’s report.

The reversal of federal policy is revealed in a document filed in a Toronto test case launched recently by a lesbian couple seeking a divorce. Wed in Toronto in 2005, the couple have been told they cannot divorce because they were never really married – a Department of Justice lawyer says their marriage is not legal in Canada since they could not have lawfully wed in Florida or England, where the two partners reside.

... Same-sex marriage was effectively legalized by the courts in 2004. A year later, the Liberal government of then-prime-minister Paul Martin passed a bill enshrining it in law. More than 5,000 of the approximately 15,000 same-sex marriages that have taken place since then involved couples from the United States or other countries.

In a response to Ms. McCarthy’s court application, federal lawyer Sean Gaudet tied the federal position to two central propositions. First, he said, couples who came to Canada to be married must live in the country for at least a year before they can obtain a divorce. Second, same-sex marriages are legal in Canada only if they are also legal in the home country or state of the couple.

“In this case, neither party had the legal capacity to marry a person of the same sex under the laws of their respective domiciles – Florida and the United Kingdom,” Mr. Gaudet stated. “As a result, their marriage is not legally valid under Canadian law.”