Dr. Dawg

Harper's homophobic agenda [updated]

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Anyone still confused on this point?

The Harper government has served notice that thousands of same-sex couples who flocked to Canada from abroad since 2004 to get married are not legally wed.

The reversal of federal policy is revealed in a document filed in a Toronto test case launched recently by a lesbian couple seeking a divorce. Wed in Toronto in 2005, the couple have been told they cannot divorce because they were never really married - a Department of Justice lawyer says their marriage is not legal in Canada since they could not have lawfully wed in Florida or England, where the two partners reside.

Said Toronto lawyer Martha McCarthy:

“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 lives of literally thousands of couples have suddenly been thrown into chaos by Harper’s homophobic move. Still think Jean Chr├ętien’s warning just before Christmas was “over-the-top,” Canadian Press?

Harper has now cemented Canada’s international reputation as a state run by and for bigots. And the year, folks, is still young.

UPDATE: “[S]peaking in Halifax Thursday, the Prime Minister said the issue was not on the agenda for his majority Conservatives. “We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue,” Stephen Harper told reporters when asked about The Globe and Mail’s report.

Pull the other one, Harpo. Just as there will be no reopening of the abortion debate? How many cakes can you have and eat at the same time?

UPPERDATE: Reader Brian Busby:

Our prime minister…feigns personal confusion and ignorance. This from today’s news conference in Halifax:

“In terms of the specifics of the story this morning, I will admit to you that I am not aware of the details. This I gather is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position on the law and I will be asking them to provide more details.”

I share Busby’s deep scepticism. The word “admit,” incidentally, needs a little parsing: it doesn’t refer to the position now taken by the government, but to the actual words (“the details”) used in a brief that carries the position.

AND… (January 13) Amazing what a national (and international) firestorm will accomplish. Nothing like testing the waters and getting well and truly shark-bitten.

But some will grasp at straws: …like Andrew Coyne. Here’s the nub of his pro-comity argument:

Suppose a Canadian gay couple marries here, then moves abroad. Wouldn’t we want their host country to accept them as legally married?

But of course the host country, if a place like Saudi Arabia or much of the US, doesn’t. And on this point he trips himself up in spectacular fashion: because the line of argument being advanced could apply equally well to the ex-pat Canadians he introduces. Imagine two Canadian men who are domiciled in Florida: they come to their own country to get married, and then return. Is their union recognized in Canada? Not under current law, Coyne argues—as, effectively, do others.

That’s pushing the principle of comity too far. In such a case, Canadian citizens, following a Canadian procedure in Canada, would be deemed to have an unlawful marriage because our laws conflict with those of the Sunshine State.

Here is a useful corrective: in a nutshell, the Charter overrides this kind of nonsense.

I might add that the line of argument being pursued would logically force the authors to reject the validity of more than a few straight-couple marriages as well—say, one between a visiting Saudi and Israeli, or (were apartheid still in existence) between a white and a Black who were normally resident in South Africa. And suppose such couples returned to Canada to take up legal residence here: would someone wave a magic legal wand and declare that their “invalid” marriages were suddenly valid after all? Or would they have to re-marry?

Luckily the very public outcry that Coyne deplores has forced the closure of this can of worms: the government will re-word the law to preclude any more such interpretations.

[H/t reader harebell, and a_picazo on Twitter]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on January 13, 2012 11:15 PM.

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