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Jan 13 2012

Update on Canada’s gay marriage issue

The government is taking action:

The Harper government is working quickly to change the law so that the marriages of the thousands of gay couples who travel to Canada to wed are legally recognized in this country. “We want to make it very clear that in our government’s view, these marriages should be valid,” a senior government official told Postmedia News on Friday. “That’s why 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.” The legislative change will apply to all marriages performed in Canada regardless of the laws of the jurisdiction in which the couple live, the official said. The statement came in the wake of a political firestorm that broke out Thursday after international headlines suggested the Canadian government doesn’t legally recognize the marriages of foreign same-sex couples who were married in Canada because they could not legally do so in their home state or country.

This is the difference between Canadian conservatives and American conservatives. Canadian conservatives can at least recognize the great economic benefit of having foreign gay couples come to their country to get married. American conservatives pander to the religious right, damn the economic or ethical consequences.

EDIT: Apparently I know nothing about Canadian politics…though I still want to insist that your conservatives aren’t as big as whack jobs as ours. If our Republicans found a loop hole like this, they’d be jumping all over it to take away rights from gays.

43 comments

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  1. 1
    VeritasKnight

    No, Jen.

    Canada’s conservatives are every bit as bad as your kind. They just can’t win elections because the majority of Canadians are on the side of history. The last thing the Harper government wants to do is energize young voters after spending the last 6 years kicking them and convincing them not to vote.

  2. 2
    Icaarus

    Sorry jen, this has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with the government standing behind the intent of a law instead of hiding behind its wording. No one realized this loop hole existed, now that they do they will fix it.

  3. 3
    Ing

    No these are conservatives retreating in face of massive blow back. IIRC they got only 1/3 of the vote, and do not need an issue that could rally the split opposition against them.

  4. 4
    anonymous

    There is still the fact that Canada has (and has long had) a one-year residency requirement for divorce. That is a crucial aspect to this story and seems to be frequently overlooked. Secondly, regardless of the Canadian government’s position, if a married gay couple lives in a state (or a country) that does not recognize gay marriage, for all intents and purposed that marriage is invalid.

  5. 5
    jolo5309

    What Icarus said.

    @We are ing
    Incorrect, the CPC had no plans to change the same sex marriage laws, whether you want to believe this was all part of the conspiracy but they changed their minds because of public opinion is fine, it may be wrong, but you are allowed your delusions.

  6. 6
    Sara

    I’m glad that they will clarify that getting married here in Canada makes the marriage valid here in Canada. But honestly, they aren’t doing it for the economic benefit at all. The numbers I’ve seen are 5000 foreign gay couples have come to Canada to get married since the law was enshrined in, I think, 2005. That’s really not that great of a benefit.

    However, making any threat to gay marriage rights is a political loser for them. If the cons are good at one thing it’s knowing what people pay attention to.

    I don’t think they are quite as bad as your conservatives, but they ain’t no liberal dream.

  7. 7
    24fps

    Actually, Canadian conservatives also pander to the religious right – what do you think this was about? We’ve also got Members of Parliament who want to “re-open the abortion debate” and attempt to do so at every turn.

    The religious right up here are smaller in number, but they’re still a thorn in our collective side. Having a conservative majority is going to suck for the next four years when it comes to women’s and GLBT rights.

  8. 8
    Sara

    Also, I think there was a lot of misunderstanding. The real problem is still that these other countries and states do not recognize gay marriage. The 1 year residency for divorce applies to all marriages, it just was never an issue because heterosexual marriages are, in general, recognized everywhere.

    But anyway, glad they will clarify it

  9. 9
    Ing

    Incorrect, the CPC had no plans to change the same sex marriage laws, whether you want to believe this was all part of the conspiracy but they changed their minds because of public opinion is fine, it may be wrong, but you are allowed your delusions.

    What delusions? From what I understand the Gov was seemingly choosing to interpret the law in a way that hurt gay people and is backpedaling from that because of bad reaction to it. They say it’s one lawyer but Canadians have said it’s unlikely they’d talk if they didn’t think they had their superiors support on it.

    I’m not sure what the fuck you think is delusional.

  10. 10
    interrobang

    Ing: Anybody who refers to the CRAPs as the “CPC” (which stands for the Communist Party of Canada really, and has since before the Reform Party was a twinkle in Bible Beatin’ Bill Manning’s eye) is on their side, and therefore shouldn’t be trusted. These are the same people among whom the individuals who cut Liberal Party supporters’ phone lines, tampered with their cars, and spray-painted “Liberal scum” on their houses two federal elections ago.

    Vocal CRAP defenders are Canada’s answer to the Teabaggers. Fortunately, they don’t own as many handguns.

  11. 11
    VeritasKnight

    interrobang, I use the term “CPC” for the Conservative Party of Canada all the time, and I am certainly not “on their side”. I get where you’re going with the CRAP bit. I remember that too, but it’s really pointless semantics. Harper does a good enough job painting his party as assholes without progressives reversing to namecalling.

    Ing, it’s entirely in what I know about Canadian governance (and that’s a lot) to see that one lawyer would act like this. I am sure that he/she thought they had their boss’s implicit support, but it was obvious to me that Harper was shocked as shit when he was asked about it. That’s not a gamble Harper would go with…he controls his message tighter than any politician Canada’s seen in 50 years.

  12. 12
    gworroll

    A friend of mine emigrated from the US to Canada(married a Canadian). To her, the Canadian conservatives are just as bad, they just have a harder time gaining a decisive amount of power.

  13. 13
    Ing

    Ing, it’s entirely in what I know about Canadian governance (and that’s a lot) to see that one lawyer would act like this. I am sure that he/she thought they had their boss’s implicit support, but it was obvious to me that Harper was shocked as shit when he was asked about it. That’s not a gamble Harper would go with…he controls his message tighter than any politician Canada’s seen in 50 years.

    I am corrected.

    …but how does that change the idea that the response is out of the fear of blow back and not out of economic wisdom or altruism?

  14. 14
    VeritasKnight

    Ing, I tend to believe that you’re correct that Harper is moving to correct this out of fear of blowback – but his desire to control his government would be an extremely strong second. He’s not a dictator to Canada, but he is to his party.

  15. 15
    Icaarus

    Let us not forget that the Canadian Marriage laws were first passed under a Conservative minority. They could have let the whole issue slide but instead chose to side with public opinion over ideology. No the issue here is Canada’s default position of recognizing a person’s government as the default legal body of the people when they are living in said nation. I know weird right? Foreign same-sex marriage was nothing more than a loophole when it started, Now it’s a fact of our society. The problem was the loophole, divorce could define marriage by the nation of residency, where marriage defined it from “Consenting adults, or 16yr olds with adult consent”. The loophole of “we don’t recognize a marriage we handed out” was never intended and hopefully will be rectified.

  16. 16
    quatguy

    The conservatives would get rid of the same sex marriage law if they knew they could get away with it, but they know they can’t. Just like the abortion issue. However, now that they have a majority, they are willing to concede the two headline grabbing issues as they actively (quietly) carry out other aspects of their conservative agenda (i.e. climate change denial and related science funding cuts, promotion of oil sands etc.).

  17. 17
    24fps

    @ Icaarus, #15 – I believe it was an unintended loose end, but I also think it is something that would have gotten a shrug and nothing more if there hadn’t been a lot of public heat from this.

    For Harper to maintain his majority, he has to woo the centrists, many of who are not socially conservative. There would not be a conservative majority in government right now had the Liberal party not flamed out so spectacularly under Ignatieff.

  18. 18
    VeritasKnight

    @Icaarus

    You’re wrong there. Martin’s Liberals were in power when the SSM bill was passed.

  19. 19
    CanadianChick

    As I understand it, (and i may be completely wrong, the reporting on this has been all over the map) the couple wanting to divorce was part of the push on this because they wanted to escape the one year residency clause. Having their marriage effectively annulled would allow them to defeat the residency clause & dissolve their marriage. Then, if needed they could use whatever civil means was necessary to divide property in their own jurisdiction.

    Lots of Cons are against same-sex marriage but Harper (as much as I despise the man) knows better than to revisit the issue.

    And in fairness, our Cons are about as far right as Obama, who I think is a Democrat in name only…

  20. 20
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    She’s American. Why would it even occur to her that a government might do that?

  21. 21
    Tabby Lavalamp

    Our Resources Minister recently, in a letter published on a government website – http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/media-room/news-release/2012/1/3520 – demonized “environmental and other radical groups” with a “radical ideological agenda” who “use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources.”
    Because, you know, “these projects would create thousands upon thousands of jobs for Canadians, yet they can take years to get started due to the slow, complex and cumbersome regulatory process.” Damn those cumbersome regulations!
    He also appeared on tv recently naming George Soros as a “billionaire socialist”. http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/01/11/george-soros-open-society-foundation-denies-involvement-northern-gateway?page=0,0

    Our conservatives may have been different from your conservatives, but they are very intent on becoming them.

  22. 22
    Evil Jenny

    You know what the outrage mostly missed? That marriages-not-valid argument was an argument. Made by a lawyer. Not a judge, passing down a judgement, or a parliament, passing a law. The judge has to listen to the lawyer say whatever fool thing the lawyer says, but doesn’t have to think it’s a valid legal argument.

    However, it’s good for the democracy that is Canada to see what happens at the breath of a suggestion that they’ll take any gained equal rights away.

  23. 23
    jolo5309

    Rob Nicholson (Justice Minister):

    “We believe these marriages should be valid,”

    Stephen Harper (Prime Minister):

    We have no intention . . . of opening or reopening this issue,’’

    @quatguy:

    The conservatives would get rid of the same sex marriage law if they knew they could get away with it, but they know they can’t.

    Evidence please?

    @Icaarus:
    The LPC (Liberal Party of Canada) passed the first law, and the CPC (Conservative Party of Canada) had a free vote (except by the BQ (Bloc Quebecois) and the NDP (New Democratic Party))vote in 2006 which affirmed it (please note, some CPC voted for it, some LPC voted against it). Since that time the official party position was they were not going to reopen it.

    @Interrobang

    Vocal CRAP defenders are Canada’s answer to the Teabaggers. Fortunately, they don’t own as many handguns.

    name call much? Your use of CRAP and Teabaggers shows you prefer to use insults instead of rational discourse.

    I use CPC because it is shorthand for Conservative Party of Canada, LPC because it is shorthand for Liberal Party of Canada and NDP for New Democrat Party. I don’t use CPC for Communist Party of Canada because nobody talks about them…

    I am also one of those people that would have stayed home (or voted against the CPC) if part of their pledge was to change same-sex marriage or abortion laws (I voted PC during the Stockwell Day era).

    For a bunch of skeptics, you guys fail, you read an article and all you see is THE CRAP ARE GOING TO STOP GAY MARRIAGE!!11!!

  24. 24
    jolo5309

    You know what the outrage mostly missed? That marriages-not-valid argument was an argument. Made by a lawyer.

    And right now Stephen Harper is going all Steven Segal on that lawyer (Cockpuncher anyone?)…

  25. 25
    donald

    #1 had it right. Harper knows that no one will vote for him east of Manitoba if he tries to marry his party to the religious right, like the Republicans. But Harper is more or less one of them, he just likes being Prime Minister more than he likes his values. Members of his party in the last couple of months have put forward anti-choice legislation akin to the legislation they tried to put in Mississippi but Harper slapped them down. Nothing is going to interfer with him maintaining his slim majority.

    Fortunately, Canada is becoming more secular with each passing year and the religious right is been pushed to the fringes. On the other hand, Harper’s total denial of climate change and his pushing of oil-sands fuel is a complete and total disgrace.

    I have never heard the Conservatives labeled as CPC or CRAP. They are “the Conservatives”. (Not to be confused with “the Progressive Conservatives”)

  26. 26
    MichaelD

    Yeah our conservatives have to be a bit more moderate because they have a slim majority of the seats with only 40% of the vote in a fairly progressive country. Given the chance there definitely members that would love to be like the republicans but it would probably just be a loosing strategy for them.

    So right now they are trying to run things fiscally conservative and trying not to meddle too much in the social side of things. Which to be fair is working our fairly well for them.

  27. 27
    Kels

    Basically, they sent up a trial balloon and realized they’d probably lose votes if they tried this. So they went for vote-getting instead, plus it gives the illusion they give a crap about gays, or anyone else for that matter. Win-win.

    Donald @ #25: CRAP comes from the short period where they called themselves the Conservative-Reform Alliance (Party), before the Reform wing just straight-up took over.

  28. 28
    Utakata

    Two things to know about Canadian polotics, Jen:

    1) If you’ve voted Conservative your asshole is located in Ottawa.

    2) In the States it is referred it to as “giving the finger”. In Cananda it’s referred to as “the Trudeau salute”.

    As for the rest of you…

    …it’s not CRAP, is’ the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party…so it’s CCRAP. Same thing though.

    Also to note: The Reform Party which the Conservatives eventually swallowed in rebooting itself, was a proto-Tea Party nut job like body. Thus like the GOP, the Conservatives have their fill of a looney interest group which they’ve adopted in their take over. So yes, there is validity in saying the Conservatives have very scary elements to them.

    Much more concerning though IMO..are the Reformatories from Ontario (from when fiscally fuckwit and neocon Mike Harris was premier of said province) make up most of our federal ministers. Thus they maybe a tad less socially conservative scary than their American counterparts, but no less still scary in their own right. Just saying.

  29. 29
    Kyle

    There’s a reason why our politics are usually considered ‘boring’ compared to the states.

    I suspect that it is because our politicians are more mature. Honestly.

  30. 30
    Lex Prospicit

    Jen, please read the following excellent analysis on the issue:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/kevin-kindred/why-nobody-gets-it-and-everyone-is-an-idiot-a-series-of-indeterminate-length/10150462308551080

    This has been a very frustrating issue because a number of bloggers that I otherwise greatly respect have gone off half-cocked (incited by some incredibly stupid reporting by the Globe and Mail) and blown what is actually a complex legal issue entirely out of proportion. I usually love Dan Savage, but he has made an absolute fool of himself with his hysterical blog post.

    As the above author says, “Law is hard.” We’ve all seen crappy science reporting of complex issues, so it amazes me how people who otherwise claim to be skeptics are so quick to accept such lousy reporting on a legal issue without engaging in a little critical thought.

  31. 31
    Londo

    I wanted to give this entry, but you beat me to it.

  32. 32
    Eclectic

    I get a “Facebook login” prompt if I follow that link; does anyone have a version that’s not behind a paywall?

  33. 33
    Michel

    Our conservatives may not be as bad, but one thing is for sure: the general population keep them in pretty hard check by generally disagreeing with their most right-wing leanings. They can’t push their agenda as fast and hard as they want, or they’ll get kicked out of parliament by the voters. They are much more pernicious than that. They are incrementally moving the country to the right so that we don’t notice.

  34. 34
    Icaarus

    Okay, so after reviewing my history, yes I forgot about the Martin minority of 2003-2006, I would like to appoligize for the mistake. Now for my opinion

    1) I couldn’t be more distraught with the Conservatives, from 2006 to 2008 they kept us in a recession vs a full out depression that two of our biggest economic trading partners were experiencing. So for that I thank him. He did this by downsizing the government and increasing it’s effectiveness. Since that time however he has shown himself to be an egotistical internalist. Sacrificing foreign aid and womens’ rights for his own social agenda. As such he was the devil we needed, not the person we wanted, and now we are stuck.

    2) I abstained from the last election for 2 reasons – I am in one of the to 15 most secured federally conservative ridings in the country. The MP for my riding (eq of congressman) believes that since I cannot believe in god, I should not be a citizen (no kidding). Secondly there was not a federal leader that I could agree with. Harper hates women, Layton, while a good opposition, IMHP is a used car salesman, and Ignatieff pushed for keeping open a program of which I can whole heartedly agree with the intent, but the program itself was so overbudget as to be useless (long gun registry)

    3) Why should the Canadian people spend money concerning ourselves with marriages not recognized by the nation or place of residency of the married people. If gay couples move here, then either get married here or just claim that they were married, Canada will recognize this. If they get married here, leave, then come back only long enough to use our court system for things like divorce and custody, that is a heavy burdon on our civil court system and allows for jurisdiction shopping. So no, I don’t think we should consider their marriages (gay, straight, blue, purple or otherwise) the concern of our divorce system. Finally, yes as far as all other aspects of foreign visitors should be concerned, the couple is married, just not in divorce court.

  35. 35
    A Gould

    Couple points (from an Albertan, home of the Crazy Harper Conservatives)

    - They’re amending the law, but that’s mostly to score points at the expense of the Liberals (who passed the law). Most of the commentary here is “the Libs screwed it up and we’re fixing it, because we’re Responsible Government” style finger-pointing.

    - There’s already a sense coming out that the Harper Government (and yes, they call themselves that) is using private member’s bills and other expendable folks to do what they’ve promised not to touch. So this government lawyer is saying the things they can’t say, for instance. There’s also bills on the table to legalize hate speech (OK, OK – remove the specific restrictions on it), condemn agencies that provide abortions, and other hot-button issues that play well to their base. The backbenchers get to score points with their constituents, and Harper gets plausible deniability.

    - And after all is said and done, those two women *still* won’t be able to get divorced here, because the Divorce Act requires you to be a resident for a year first (hetero or not). So the whole thing stinks of politics anyway.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    Tony

    You have to understand that Canadian politics are DESPERATELY boring. We simply don’t have the same level of crazy among our politicians, despite the insistence of some of the commentators to this entry. Where’s our Bachmann, our Palin, our Gingrich, our Romney? They don’t exist. Instead we have Harper’s expertly coiffed and sweatered awkwardness.

    One factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is that while Harper is an Evangelical christian his personal beliefs have never formed a part of his political platform. It’s also worth mentioning that Canadians don’t vote for a Prime Minister, they vote for their local candidate and the leader is selected by the party membership. Perhaps that leads to more of a calming effect on the crazy as leaders are appointed and not crowned.

  38. 38
    sailor1031

    Fiscally conservative? It was the liberals who balanced the federal budget and actually started to pay down the debt back in the 1990s. Since the 39th parliament the debt has been rising each year and is now projected to be the largest in Canada’s history at $can 605 billion for 2012-2013. With no strategy for balancing the budget let alone reducing the debt. Some conservatives! And yes, this proves they are like republicans – fiscally irresponsible.

  39. 39
    ckitching

    If you ever want to be disabused of that notion, just watch Question Period. As Rick Mercer put it, “It’s like your grade seven class, if your teacher left you alone for five minutes to go out for a smoke, but they never came back.”

  40. 40
    jolo5309

    One factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is that while Harper is an Evangelical christian his personal beliefs have never formed a part of his political platform.

    Harper cares far more about getting rid of the LPC (Liberal Party of Canada) than he does about same sex marriage.

    It was the liberals who balanced the federal budget and actually started to pay down the debt back in the 1990s.

    Correct, although how they did it was not really helpful. They cut transfer payments to the provinces so the provinces were responsible for more public spending.
    Don’t get me wrong, I want a balanced budget and if Martin had been more competent as PM I would have voted for him.

    There’s already a sense coming out that the Harper Government (and yes, they call themselves that)

    The media does, and this story shows how trustworthy they are…

  41. 41
    quatguy

    I have no idea why the CBC keeps using the phrase “The Harper Government”. Everytime I hear it, I want to scream at the radio.

    jen, I bet you had no idea that you would get such vigorous political discourse from your Canadian readers on the issue. I think it shows we always pay attention to “Can Con” (i.e. Canadian content) when we encounter it in the US or other international media.

  42. 42
    Jaime

    Umm…if you’re referring to the law legalizing gay marriage, that was actually passed in 2005 under a Liberal minority government.
    After he was elected in early 2006, Harper allowed a second vote on the law (largely as a sop to the fundamentalist lobby), had it soundly defeated, and immediately backed the hell off because he knew that any appearance of “radicalism” would be used as a very effective club with which to beat him.

  43. 43
    Alberto Shorey

    And He said, let there be Toronto, and it was good.

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