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Canadian PM Harper Won't Reopen Debate on Gay Marriage Over Govt. Plans to Invalidate Thousands of Them: VIDEO

Harper

The news this morning that Canada's government has "served notice that same-sex couples who came to Canada since 2004 to get married are not legally wed" will not move PM Stephen Harper to reopen the debate on same-sex marriage, he told press today.

The NDP's Olivia Chow said Harper was sending out confusing messages about the government's intentions, calling the about-face ``hugely embarrassing.''

``You can't say that you support gay marriage and then have lawyers say that you don't in court,'' Chow said at a news conference at her Toronto office.

``It's a very backwards way, and I think it will disappoint a lot of Canadians.''

Chow said if the flip-flop was truly a misunderstanding, the prime minister can easily resolve the matter by instructing the government's lawyer in the divorce case to use a different argument.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. Rewrite the headline, it's inaccurate. Harper won't reopen the topic of same-sex marriage.

    Posted by: Dan | Jan 12, 2012 2:02:08 PM


  2. ugh, harper. the vast majority of canadians are utterly embarrassed by this fool.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 12, 2012 2:07:28 PM


  3. I'll probably get shredded for this, but how is this surprising? If I got married in, say, Thailand (and were straight), I'd have to get a license here as well. How many states have granted same-sex couples benefits based on their Canadian marriage license?

    Yes, it sucks. But it always seemed clear that it was ceremony, not law, that drove people to states or countries where marriage equality is allowed.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 12, 2012 2:20:34 PM


  4. @paul r

    washington state has: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/01/12/canadas-conservative-government-turns-my-husband-back-into-my-boyfriend , see update 3.

    Posted by: josh | Jan 12, 2012 2:31:06 PM


  5. @Paul R. So a straight marriage performed in Canada is also not legal in the United States unless the straight gets an American marriage certificate?

    So, is Canada saying that some marriages performed in Canada are more valid than some other marriages performed in Canada, though both are legal in Canada.

    Posted by: Continuum | Jan 12, 2012 2:31:36 PM


  6. They're not even saying THAT. What they're saying is that you get married in Canada but that marriage isn't recognized in your "home" country, you aren't married in Canada either.

    I've often wondered what happens when married gay couples from other countries come to the US. Surely there must be some couples who have emigrated here for jobs (Consuls, etc.) whose marriages are recognized in their home country. What's their status here?

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 12, 2012 2:45:56 PM


  7. @Continuum: To your first question, no, assuming that they're US citizens. Marriage licenses don't even always cross state lines (though they usually do). You can achieve some privileges based on basic diplomacy, but that doesn't mean that you could, say, file tax forms somewhere else just because you got married there.

    Put another way, would you expect a Middle Eastern (or Caribbean, or most any region) gay couple to make a trip to Canada, get married, then return home and be granted anything besides ridicule and possibly death?

    @Josh: I know Dan Savage and tend to like him, but this is some of his worst writing: "Right now, if I'm not mistaken, Washington state recognizes same-sex marriages performed in states and countries where same-sex marriage is legal—but Washington treats these couples (me and Terry included) as domestic partners under WA state law." If I'm not mistaken?? Arguably the most visible gay guy in media doesn't know his rights? He didn't help anyone's argument there. Also, domestic partners are not married and receive only city and sometimes state benefits.

    Again, it sucks.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 12, 2012 2:53:30 PM


  8. THE HEADLINE IS WRONG ANDY

    The Prime Minister is actually saying he's not going to repoen the debate around Same Sex marriage itself, which is actually a good thing -- he makes no comment on this case except to say he doesn't know the details

    Posted by: Strepsi | Jan 12, 2012 3:04:58 PM


  9. @Caliban: if they're straight and certainly if they're diplomats or other foreign officials, they're married.

    But their tax and other situations and rights are likely to be a nightmare.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 12, 2012 3:09:49 PM


  10. Caliban,

    My hetero parents moved to the US already having been married in Europe for 17 years. All they needed to do was get their marriage certificate translated and notarized. That's how it usually works.

    Look, before NY legalized same-sex marriage, it did recognize all foreign same-sex marriages. (So, Canadian govt's position is ridiculous.)

    A same-sex couple could get married in Canada, and Israel will recognize their marriage (though there's no same-sex marriage in Israel).

    A same-sex couple could get married in Canada, and UK will recognize their marriage as a civil partnership. (UK does not provide same-sex marriage per se.)

    Overall, the position of Canadian government is silly (absent some specific wording in the law, and since it hasn't been a problem until now, I am guessing there is no limiting wording in the law), and I bet that once it gets to the Canadian Supreme Court, the Court will say as much.

    Posted by: olterigo | Jan 12, 2012 3:20:09 PM


  11. @Paul R.,

    Israel does not allow same-sex marriage, but its Supreme Court has ruled that foreign same-sex marriages are to be recognized.

    New York state also recognized foreign same-sex marriages before NY allowed them to be performed within its limits.

    Posted by: olterigo | Jan 12, 2012 3:23:37 PM


  12. Just you watch. He said "further". He means further than this about-face. He'll stand by this complete reversal of the Canadian position on same-sex marriage for non-residents. Just you watch.

    Posted by: BobN | Jan 12, 2012 3:29:59 PM


  13. Cribbing from a story by Kevin Farrell that seems to get at the crux of the ridiculousness:

    "Critics of this attack on LGBT people have noted both online and off that if gay marriages are now without legal standing in Canada if the couple’s homeland forbids them, are Middle Eastern women living in Canada now stripped of their rights to vote, drive a car, or even show their hair? Is being gay now punishable by death in Canada if you’re from Uganda? Is blogging or criticizing your government now illegal for Egyptians living in Canada?"

    Posted by: Zlick | Jan 12, 2012 3:54:20 PM


  14. So if my rural town doesn't issue parking tickets and I go to Canada and get one, does that mean I don't have to pay it?

    Posted by: acorlando | Jan 12, 2012 4:12:27 PM


  15. What it boils down to and Canada isn't alone in this, is that unless foreign countries have reciprocal same-sex marriage laws, those marriages performed in one country won't necessarily be recognized if the country of origin of one or both parties come(s) from a country that doesn't allow it. Several EU countries where SSM is allowed also mirror Canada's treatment of a foreign gay couple's marriage performed outside their native countries.

    Posted by: Robert in NYC | Jan 12, 2012 4:54:45 PM


  16. Some American same-sex couple from a marriage discriminatory state who went to Canada to get married (and were invited to do so by the Canadian tourist industry at the time) should sue the government of Canada for fraud.

    A marriage license is a product offered for money (fees) with an implied or stated value. To declare that value null and that contract void based on criteria not in use at the time is to defraud the purchasers. At the very least, the government of Canada should think about what it will take to refund those thousands of license fees for marriages paid by non-Canadian couples who were married in Canada.

    Posted by: Nanuq | Jan 12, 2012 4:59:49 PM


  17. The legal reasoning of the Canadian government defeats me.
    If the women wanted to get a divorce in the UK, they could do because even though their relationship would be treated as a Civil Partnership, the British courts would recognise both the legality of the relationship and that of the Canadian government's action in marrying them.
    The logical extension of the Canadian government's position is that it would not recognise a Civil Partnership between two gay Canadian's who got hitched in the UK because Canada doesn't have civil partnerships.
    Except, of course, the Canadian authorities have already stated in a previous case, that they will treat British Civil Partnerships as a marriage.
    As such, the Canadian government has done a complete volte face on a previously established policy that was laid down by Canadian legal officers at the highest level.

    Posted by: dazzer | Jan 12, 2012 5:05:31 PM


  18. I am an American married to an American living in Canada under a work Visa. My husband was transferred here by his work and when I arrived in Canada our marriage was recognized by the Canadian government from the moment I crossed the border into Canada. Thank you Canada for that respect.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 12, 2012 5:14:45 PM


  19. Y'all need to stop sensationalizing something that isn't true. The whole thing has been taken out of context. This is a legal argument being made by a lawyer in a Divorce court case where an American/English lesbian couple were married in Canada. Under Canadian law, you can only get divorced IF and ONLY IF, you have resided in Canada as a married couple for at least a year. This couple has not done that, and so.. the lawyer.. is proposing that since their marriage is not recognized in the United States, (go figure.. y'all are complaining and you can't even get married down there...) that the marriage is NOT a marriage and thus, only an annulment need apply, and not a divorce.

    This isn't law, this is legal posturing in a Divorce case.. which is still in proceedings. Not case closed, nothing finalized.. just legal arguments by one lawyer.

    Take a chill pill.. or maybe some 420.

    Posted by: NorthoftheBorder | Jan 12, 2012 5:32:16 PM


  20. The is OLD NEWS...The Justice department just announced they are going to introduce new laws to allow foreigners s-s married in Canada to get divorces. The problem may have been easier for this couple had they gone to court in a state in the USA that recognizes their Canadian marriage. It has to do with federal divorce laws that require residency whether you are straight or gay. A Canadian couple (gay or straight) cannot land in a NYC court where they do not live and get a quickie divorce either
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/01/12/pol-harper-same-sex-marriage.html

    Posted by: John Mclaren | Jan 12, 2012 5:32:18 PM


  21. He's lying -- his lips are moving (if you look closely).

    Lots of things that are "off the table" are getting changed by his government anyway. No accountability.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 12, 2012 6:05:24 PM


  22. Just to be clear, the reason this case is at issue has little to do with residency for divorce purposes, but claims the marriage was never valid in the first place.

    This is a threat to all foreign couples married in Canada, including mixed-religion marriages.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 12, 2012 6:07:16 PM


  23. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation in this thread about what the Globe and Mail article was saying. Because of the confusion and worry, lgbt legal groups have come together to say, basically, not to worry:

    http://nclrights.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/lgbt-legal-groups-canadian-marriages-of-same-sex-couples-are-not-in-jeopardy/

    As Randy and a few others have said, the perceived problem wasn't about residency requirements or whether Canadian marriages of same-sex couples are legal in Kansas or in the eyes of the US government (they aren't) but whether the marriages were legal in Canada. It made no sense, because if they were not legal in Canada, why did Canada allow them? Hopefully a few legal heads will roll, and this will be cleared up.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 12, 2012 6:23:19 PM


  24. Thank you NORTHOFTHEBOARDER!

    You're one of the few reporting this accurately.

    It's a strange conundrum about our divorce laws vs residency status and has nothing to do with our marriage rights.

    I'm no Harper fan, but his call was actually heartening and reaffirming to our community.

    Posted by: Autarchic | Jan 12, 2012 7:55:48 PM


  25. Stephen Harper doesn't know the details? Hah! He's a micromanager who knows EVERY detail about his government. If a lawyer representing the Canadian Government made a statement, Stephen Harper knew well in advance.

    Posted by: Bianca Withrow | Jan 13, 2012 8:09:57 AM


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