The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is moving quickly to change Canadian divorce law in order to allow recognition of all same-sex marriages. The action is in response to a Justice Department attorney in Toronto interfering in the divorce of an American couple that was married in Canada.
This contrasts sharply with the action of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott who intervened in divorce cases in Dallas and Austin.
In the Dallas case, a couple that lived and married in Massachusetts moved to Dallas and then tried to divorce. Abbott intervened saying that the divorce could not be granted because the marriage wasn’t valid.
In the Canadian case, the attorney argued that the divorce could not be granted because Canadian divorce law requires residency.
The Harper government threatened to invalidate all same-sex marriages of couples that lived where same-sex marriage wasn’t recognized.
What Harper and Abbott have in common is a disdain for same-sex marriage. Both interfered in simple divorce proceedings. What is different is the outcome.
While Abbott prefers that a same-sex couple remain married to show just how much they’re not married and demonstrate how they’re destroying traditional marriage as it’s existed since Biblical times, Harper decided to change divorce laws to make it easier for couples to split.
Harper had fewer options. While public opinion and court opinions are moving away from Abbott’s position, Harper has a clear ruling from the Canadian Supreme Court. In Canada, marriage equality has been ruled a right.
Julie Vaux, press secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, sent a message to Dallas Voice that the minister could not comment on an ongoing divorce proceeding, however, “I want to be very clear that our government has no intention of reopening the debate on the definition of marriage. The case reported in the media involves the fact that, under current law, some marriages performed in Canada could not be dissolved in Canada.”
She places the blame on the previous Liberal government and said, “This is a legislative gap left by the Liberal government of the day when the law was changed in 2005. The confusion and pain resulting from this gap is completely unfair to those who are affected.”
But her main point is that all marriages performed in Canada will remain valid:
I want to make it very clear that, in our government’s view, these marriages should be valid. We will change the Civil Marriage Act so that any marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized in the couple’s home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada.
This will apply to all marriages performed in Canada. We have been clear that we have no desire to reopen this issue – both myself and the Prime Minister consider this debate to be closed.