Since Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, some 15,000 gay and lesbian couples have jumped the broom. But now a lawyer for the Canadian government is claiming up to a third of those marriages may be invalid because they were between foreigners who couldn’t wed in their native countries.
A case before the Ontario Superior Court involves a lesbian couple in which one woman is English and the other is American. The women, who wed in 2005, are seeking a divorce but the Canadian Department of Justice’s Sean Gaudet claims divorce is only available for those people who have lived in Canada for a year or more and have a valid marriage to dissolve. (Neither the U.S. nor England has national marriage equality.)
Shouldn’t this have crossed the bureaucrats’ minds when they were signing gay marriage into law?
Martha McCarthy, who is representing the women, agrees, telling Canada’s Globe and Mail, “it is appalling and outrageous that two levels of government would be taking this position without ever having raised it before, telling anybody it was an issue or doing anything pro-active about it. All the while, they were handing out licences to perform marriages across the country to non-resident people.”
The Canadian government could pass legislation to help get the 5,000 foreign couples who married up north out of legal limbo, but that will likely take some time.