Gay marriage, and what Canada forgot

Congrats to the USA on the historic ruling by the Supreme Court that allows same-sex couples in California to… marry, which they already could for a while? Or something? I’m Canadian, so the marriage debate was settled about 10 years ago. It was settled with a series of court cases, and then one vote in Parliament. I guess it went through so quickly that they didn’t think through the details quite well enough.

The news up here today is that same-sex divorce is now available to all people who were married in Canada, even non-residents. Hurray! Err… wait. Why was this legislation necessary?

It arose because of a lesbian couple who tied the knot in Canada and
wanted a divorce but their marriage wasn’t recognized in their home
jurisdictions of Florida and London, England.

So Canadian law left a loophole that allowed people from the US and UK to get married here, but left them with no way to get divorced.

I assume there were many Canadian “sorries” involved in this case. Sorry.


Oh man that’s perfect.

From of course Hark, a Vagrant.


I know a couple who got married in Croatia, then moved to the US, where they got divorced. Croatia never recognized their divorce.

They’re now dating each other again, but whether they’re husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend depends, I suppose, on which country they’re in.


There were two rulings that invalidated two laws:

Proposition 8” – California made it legal for same sex couples to wed some time ago. Then some folks got a voter ballot proposition passed that made it illegal in the state by amending the state constitution. CA is a state with voter ballot initiative, which means if people get enough signatures they can put a bill on a ballot that is directly voted on by the citizens. This varies state by state. New York, for example, does not have this.

DOMA” – Bill Clinton signed a bill into law called “The Defense of Marriage Act” that effectively made it illegal for the federal government to recognize same sex unions under law. For example (and this was the basis of the suit that got the law ruled unconstitutional), if you were legally married and your spouse died, you would have to pay full inheritance tax on anything he or she left you, since that is a federal tax. If you were married in the eyes of the Feds, you wouldn’t pay tax on that, up to a certain limit.

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