Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31



Canada DoJ triggers marriage scare
News posted Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service

This article shared 3373 times since Wed Jan 18, 2012
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

The Canadian Department of Justice told a court in Ontario this week that a lesbian couple from the United States and England who obtained a marriage license there in 2005 should not be granted a divorce now because they were not legally married in Canada.

The argument triggered a flood of news inquiries, aimed at determining whether the administration of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who opposes same-sex marriage, might be trying to invalidate same-sex marriages through the courts.

However, five of the U.S.'s top LGBT legal groups issued a statement Jan. 12 saying they are not worried.

"No one's marriage has been invalidated or is likely to be invalidated," said the groups. "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."

Not everyone seems as confident.

Canadian Member of Parliament Olivia Chow told the Canadian Broadcast Company ( CBC ) that she thinks Harper "is hiding behind the law and using a back-door way" to invalidate same-sex marriages.

Another MP, Justin Trudeau, told CBC, "This is what we have been worried about with the Conservative majority for a long time, we're going to see the erosion of gains…."

Liberal Party leader Bob Rae suggested Harper might be trying to defeat same-sex marriage through the courts now.

"I understand Mr. Harper said he didn't know about [ DOJ argument in the divorce case ] and he doesn't see every legal brief that goes before the courts," Rae told reporters Thursday. But he added, "Of all the people in Canada who could actually make that argument, it's a little hard for him to make the argument because my sense of that government is that he controls everything."

At a press conference Jan. 12, Harper said he was unfamiliar with the divorce case in question and that he had "no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue."

The divorce case in question involves a woman who resided in Florida and one who resided in England at the time they acquired a marriage license in Canada in 2005. Their names have not been released. But according to the National Post, a newspaper in Ontario, the women sought a divorce in 2009, but were told Canadian law requires that at least one of them live a year in Canada to obtain the divorce. The women challenged the residency requirement, but in court, the Canadian DOJ pulled out a new twist. It argued that he women could not obtain a divorce because they were never legally married in Canada.

"The government is arguing that since Florida and the U.K.—the home jurisdictions of the estranged couple—don't recognize gay marriages, a gay marriage licence issued in Canada isn't legally valid," reported the National Post. "People living in Canada, Canadian or otherwise, would have no problem, because Canada does recognize same-sex unions. But if your home country or state doesn't, then the government has argued that a Canadian marriage has no standing in law."

Six states in the United States recognize same-sex marriages, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) prohibits the federal government from doing so.

The reaction in the United Staes and Canada has been fierce.

"The notion that Canadian law should be dependent on the local laws of every single other jurisdiction on the planet is asinine," said National Post columnist Matt Gurney. "A government that has made so much of standing up for Canada's values on the world stage has no business declaring our own laws subservient to any other land's. We might not have the hard- or soft-power to give our laws much weight abroad, but we can at least honour them in our own country."

However, in fact, many jurisdictions do have this requirement. When Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses in 2004, the state supreme court ruled that only couples from states that did not bar same-sex marriage could obtain licenses in Massachusetts. And Vermont, after it passed its historic civil-union law, required that to dissolve a civil union, a couple had to reside in Vermont for at least a year.

Same-sex couples began obtaining marriage licenses in some provinces of Canada in 2003, and, in 2004 under Prime Minister Paul Martin, same-sex couples could marry anywhere in the country. When Stephen Harper became prime minister in 2005, he initially tried to overturn that marriage equality law but failed.

According to CBC television, about 5,000 couples have come from other countries to marry in Canada.

Peter Freiberg, a U.S. journalist who married his same-sex partner, legal activist Joe Tom Easley, in Toronto in 2003, said he was "very surprised" at the news.

"The parliament voted and [ Harper ] just dropped the issue," said Freiberg. Frieberg said he and Easley did consider obtaining an additional marriage license in California in 2008, when it was possible to do so.

"But Lambda advises against that," said Freiberg. "They advised very strongly against it because, if anything should ever come up in court, it looks frivolous to go around and get married in different places, and the Canadian license is as good as any other license."

In its statement Jan. 12, Lambda and the four other groups noted that "Canada's Parliament codified the equal right to marry for same-sex couples in 2005."

"The message for same-sex couples married in Canada remains the same as it is for same-sex couples validly married here in the United States: take every precaution you can to protect your relationship with legal documents such as powers of attorney and adoptions, as you may travel to jurisdictions that don't respect your legal relationship," said the statement. "There is no reason to suggest that Canadian marriages of same-sex couples are in jeopardy, or to advocate that people try to marry again elsewhere, as that could cause these couples unnecessary complications, anxiety, and expense."

The statement was issued by Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Freedom to Marry and the ACLU.

Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry group, noted that Canada's minister of justice, Rob Nicholson, seemed to be "backpedaling" already on the divorce-case argument. In a statement released Jan. 12, Nicholson said, "I want to be very clear that the Government has no intention of reopening the debate on the definition of marriage.

This case today involved the fact that, under current law, some marriages performed in Canada could not be dissolved in Canada.

I will be looking at options to clarify the law so that marriages performed in Canada can be undone in Canada."

©2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article shared 3373 times since Wed Jan 18, 2012
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

NATIONAL Respect for Marriage Act, lesbian judge, gay official resigns 2022-11-20
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said that debate on the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) is suspended and will continue on Nov. 28, when the Senate reconvenes after Thanksgiving, LGBTQ Nation reported. The RFMA ...

Gay News

Senate marriage equality bill advances with 62-37 bipartisan vote 2022-11-16
- A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators voted 62-37 for cloture—the end of debate—for the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), signaling passage in the near future for the measure that enshrines marriage equality into federal law. The ...

Gay News

Rights advocates: Nov. 16 Senate vote a 'backstop' against SCOTUS overreach 2022-11-16
- Representatives from HRC and GLAD met with media virtually the morning of Nov. 16 to discuss the implications of the Respect of Marriage Act. That legislation, scheduled for a Senate vote the same day, codifies marriage ...

Gay News

Reports: Senate to vote on marriage equality law Nov. 16 2022-11-15
- The U.S. Senate will vote on a measure enshrining marriage equality into law Wednesday, according to reports. Supporters of the measure, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to protect against an eventual repeal ...

Gay News

WORLD Indian judge, marriage items, LGBTQ+-friendly countries 2022-11-13
- A judge who could pave the way to legalizing marriage equality in India took charge as chief justice, Bloomberg reported. As a judge on the top court, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was a member of the five-member ...

Gay News

Actress Rebel Wilson gets engaged, announces birth of first child [UPDATE] 2022-11-05
- Actress Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) is engaged to girlfriend Ramona Agruma after dating for seven months, according to Page Six. ...

Gay News

Last Mexican state approves marriage equality 2022-10-27
- On Oct. 27, Mexico's northeastern border state of Tamaulipas voted to recognize same-sex marriage, making it legal in every district in the country, Reuters reported. In its official Twitter account, the congress of Tamaulipas approved the ...

Gay News

Calif. judge rules for anti-LGBTQ+ baker in wedding-cake case 2022-10-24
- In California, a judge has ruled in favor of a bakery owner who refused to make wedding cakes for a same-sex couple because it violated her Christian beliefs, according to a U.S. News & World Report ...

Gay News

Singapore moves to legalize male same-sex relations, protect definition of marriage 2022-10-21
- On Oct. 20, Singapore's government filed bills in parliament seeking to decriminalize sex between men, and to amend the constitution to prevent court challenges to laws and policies concerning marriage, Reuters reported. The proposed legislation in ...

Gay News

Slovenia legalizes marriage equality, adoption 2022-10-05
- Slovenia has become the first Eastern European country to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption. The historic moment has come about after a six-to-three Constitutional Court decision in July said that same-sex marriage and adoption are constitutional ...

Gay News

Cuba legalizes same-sex marriage 2022-09-26
- Cuba has legalized marriage equality after Cubans voted in favor of a family code that increased protections for minorities on the island, CNN reported. With 94% of the votes counted as of 8 a.m. CT on ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marriage bill, drag queen dies, Dutch queen visits, university sued 2022-09-18
- A bipartisan group of senators trying to pass same-sex marriage protection legislation pushed a vote until after the November election—a move the officials say increases their chances of success but avoids forcing the GOP on record ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Protests, Respect for Marriage Act, photographer, Fla. Democrat 2022-09-11
- The Inland Empire Pride festival in Riverside, California, was disrupted when far-right extremists demonstrated outside the event venue, The Advocate reported. Violent clashes erupted between protesters and those attending the ...

Gay News

Singapore to decriminalize same-sex relations, but will ban marriage equality 2022-08-22
- Singapore will decriminalize sex between men by repealing a colonial-era statute but will amend the constitution to ensure same-sex marriage is not allowed, ABC News reported. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he believed repealing the ...

Gay News

WORLD Zelensky, French position, UK drag-queen shows, triathlons 2022-08-07
- Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed he will ask Ukraine's government to look into legalizing same-sex marriage after the war with Russia ends, PinkNews reported. Ukraine's constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Last ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.




About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.