Ottawa affirms legality of same-sex marriages performed in Canada

Ottawa affirms legality of same-sex marriages performed in Canada - The Globe and Mail
The federal government has quelled a growing controversy with a declaration that all same-sex marriages performed in Canada are legal.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson issued a statement on Friday that reversed his department’s earlier position that same-sex marriages performed in Canada are legal only if they are accepted as such in the home country of the marriage partners.


He said that a “legislative gap” that caused the confusion will be closed.
“The confusion and pain resulting from this gap is completely unfair to those who are affected,” Mr. Nicholson said. “I want to make it clear that, in the government’s view, those marriages are legal.”
His statement was a source of relief to same-sex couples who feared that, not only might they be unable to divorce because of a one-year residency requirement, but that their marriages were invalid. Many had lost faith in a country they had considered a beacon of social justice for gays.
“Oh my God, this is a wonderful turn of events for everybody,” said Brendan Fay, a New Yorker who came to Canada to marry his partner several years ago. “It restores confidence and trust in the Canadian government.
Mr. Nicholson blamed the former Liberal government for the problem, because, when it legalized same-sex marriage, it did not address the fact that the residency requirement was destined to leave thousands of couples unable to divorce. Former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler responded that it did not stick out as a serious potential problem.
Martha McCarthy, a lawyer for the lesbian couple whose Toronto divorce application has turned into a test case, said that Mr. Nicholson’s statement has assuaged her concern. “Everyone who was panicked by the news yesterday can relax and forget all about the uncertainty of the last 24 hours,” Ms. McCarthy said. “You are all still married.”