What is and is not a marriage?


Robert Leckey, president of Egale, points with concern to both this latest court case and the case of a Canadian citizen in Britain.

In both cases, we shouldn’t let the technicalities distract us from matters of principle. A government proud that Canada’s Parliament has granted equal marriage rights to gay men and lesbians would stand behind such marriages, however other countries saw them. And a government supportive of equality would affirm other countries’ efforts to recognize gay relationships.

The CBC has the legal documents. Olivia Chow calls on the Prime Minister to redirect the Justice Department lawyer.


What is and is not a marriage?

  1. Ouch. Harper’s tried to distance himself from this, but Chow may not let him.   Even if he’s not responsible for it, by putting it out there to redirect the Justice Minister, she’s going to try to make any course of action into taking a stand on the issue.

    • Realistically this is all an issue about the difficulty arising from letting non-residents divorce in Canada….Ms. Chow should recognize this.  Surely she can understand that Canadian marriage tourism has always been popular but the understanding was that the married tourists would get their divorces at home.  The problem with the same-sex marriage comes when “home” does not recognize the marriage and therefore will not grant a divorce.   Canada is not in the “divorce tourism” business.  The  last thing we want are our over-crowded Canadian courts dealing with contentious divorces between non-residents.  Our courts would end up making rulings that could never been enforced.  What a nightmare, especially if children are involved.   

      • Our courts would end up making rulings that could never been enforced.
        That’s the biggest issue.  Even if we perform the divorce and it leads to a settlement and spouse X gets the car and spouse Y gets the house how are we going to enforce that?  Are we going to send the RCMP down to Florida to make sure spouse X turns over the car to spouse Y?  And what if spouse X calls the Florida state troopers to stop the RCMP from taking her car!?!?!?

        • How would we enforce child-support?  In Canada it is paid into the court system…what would we do….how would we even decide custody issues?  Think of the costs.  Nightmare of nightmares….what if one spouse abducts the children in Florida…would the Canadian custody agreement be enforceable?

  2. Funny the date on the legal documents is June 17, 2011 – and they are going public today?
    The Federal lawyer claims Sec. 9. “The parens patriae jurisdiction should not be extended to gay and lesbian couples who do not meet the residency requirement set out in the Divorce act”
    To file for divorce in Canada, you or your partner have to be resident here for twelve months prior to the date of filing – and that applies to either same-sex or opposite-sex couples.
    Couple of lawyers on the radio earlier said SS couples need to be aware of Canada’s Divorce Laws before getting married.  So if an exception is made for SSM in regards to residency requirements that is not exactly fair.
    If a couple of Canadians get married in Vegas don’t they have to register the marriage back in Canada to be legit here?

    • I do not think that an exception will be made for same-sex marriages.  I think that the feds are giving them an out by offering to invalidate the marriage if they live in a place that doesn’t recognize it so they can’t get a marriage at home.

      • oops …i mean’t a divorce at home.

        • CBC article from 2009 – this is not new.  The couples lawyer makes some pretty outlandish statements in her 24 page submission.   They could always go to another US state that allows SSM.

          “Gay U.S. couples can’t get divorces for Canadian marriages

          Some same-sex couples from the U.S. who got married in Canada are running into trouble getting divorces, according to an Oregon lawye.

          As well, a residency requirement in Canada’s Divorce Act requires one of the two married people to live in this country for a year before a divorce can be granted, and those U.S. states which recognize gay marriage also have residency requirements for divorce.

          Rain Henderson, a Vancouver lawyer and expert on matrimonial law, says marriage application forms should include a new warning for same-sex couples.

          Henderson has this advice for gay Americans looking to marry here: “I would say not to do it, because it is, at this point in time, such a procedural bar.”


  3. This is a “test case” seeking the court’s interpretation of a federal statute that obviously is in dire need of interpretation, given the thousands of persons potentially affected.  It is the obligation of the federal government to participate and any suggestion Harper is pursuing some kind of “hidden agenda” to reopen the “SS”M debate by virtue of that participation is ridiculous.

    Furthermore, the issues of the case, at this point at least, are complex international legal issues, most of which are “apolitical” in nature, i.e. property division, status for tax purposes, etc.  It appears from the media reports as if the federal government lawyers recognize this and are putting forward reasoned positions based on legal principals, not strident political rhetoric.

    If you want to rant and rave and express indignation over the plight of the hapless foreign couple who got married here but can’t now divorce, direct it toward the legislators who, in their zeal to do the will of their judicial overseers and force  “SS”M down our throats, couldn’t be bothered to actually do a proper job of it.

    • I would go even farther and suggest harper and cabinet weren’t even aware of this issue until earlier today.  The guy who made mis-statements about the supreme court “punting back” the same sex issue to parliament is unlikely to have masterminded this issue.  And to his credit, the CPC Minister looks to want to handle this reasonably and quickly. 

  4. Egale may want to distance themselves from this mess. Canadians have accepted same-sex marriage as routine in Canada.

     If this divorce case gets messy and Canadians are told that our laws will have to change to waive the one year residence requirement, and that we will then have to guarantee a quicky divorce to all same sex couples living off-shore, then there may be a backlash against the whole practice.

    If the Ministry of Justice offers a solution to this issue by guaranteeing the validity of all same-sex marriages performed here, however, if the couple do not live here for one year then they must seek their divorce in their home country, then everyone should accept the compromise quietly.

    • You should read the 24 pages submitted by their lawyer – holy moly!!!     

      • Oh no, already this subject has become tedious–I`m not going to read any legaleze about it.

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