An attorney in the Canadian justice department has moved to invalidate marriages performed in Canada for same-sex couples that live in places that do not recognize same-sex marriages. The government attorney made the argument in a divorce case filed in Toronto by a lesbian couple — one from Florida and one from England.
After the controversy gained international attention today, The Toronto Globe and Mail quoted a member of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government as saying they will consider amending the law to allow foreign couples who married in Canada to divorce in the country.
Lambda Legal issued a statement that said that Canadian marriages of same-sex couples are not in jeopardy. They wrote:
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.
The country’s Justice Department maintained the position, however, that thousands of foreign couples who married in Canada are not married.
So I decided to play their nasty little game and I called the Canadian Consulate in Dallas, which could not answer my questions. I told them my story would center on the fate of the marriage of two couples in my office who were married in Canada. They forwarded my request to an information office. I’m waiting to hear from them.
Here’s what I want to know:
How will the affected couples be notified? One of the Dallas Voice couples was married in Toronto in 2003 and moved years ago. The marriage bureau there has no way of notifying them. Certainly this marriage cannot be invalidated without proper notification.
Will license fees be refunded? Certainly Canadian municipalities don’t want to be charged with fraudulently accepting fees for invalid licenses.
Will all travel expenses be refunded? Beyond being charged with fraudulently issuing these licenses, Canada has enjoyed a windfall of tourism. But if those trips were based on fraudulent promises, will gay and lesbian couples have to sue to be refunded for all travel expenses related to the scam the Canadian government perpetrated on American couples?
Further questions about your Canadian marriage can be answered by a local Canadian consulate or the embassy in Washington which can be found here. They’re anxiously awaiting your call.