Gay marriage validity questioned in Toronto

Gay marriage validity questioned in Toronto

From the NationalPost.com: The government of Canada is reportedly arguing that thousands of same-sex couples who have travelled to this country to get married are not legally wed.

The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that the government is contending in a Toronto court case that non-Canadians gays and lesbians who have been married here since 2004 are only considered married under this country’s laws if gay marriage is also recognized in their home country or state.

The paper is basing its report on court documents filed in a Toronto test case. It was launched by a lesbian couple seeking a divorce. They were wed in Toronto in 2005, and cannot be identified under a court order.

A Department of Justice lawyer reportedly argued the marriage was not legal in Canada because the couple could not have been legally married in Florida or England, where the two live.

Same-sex marriage in Canada was effectively legalized in 2004, and the next year the Liberal government passed the bill to make it a law.

More than 15,000 same-sex marriages have taken place since then, the Globe reported, with more than 5,000 involving couples from outside Canada.

The Ontario Superior Court is reportedly set to rule on the couple’s divorce application next month.

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UPDATE: Lambda Legal, Freedom To Marry, the ACLU, and GLAD have issued a joint statement:

“No one’s marriage has been invalidated or is likely to be invalidated. 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 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. 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.”