Thousands of gay marriages performed in Canada for same-sex couples who traveled to the country to get married may not be legal.
The Canadian government is arguing in a Toronto court case that non-residents who were wed in Canada are only considered married if gay marriage is also legal in their home country or state, The Globe and Mail reported.
At issue is a document filed by the Canadian government in a test case involving a lesbian couple who were married in Toronto in 2005, and are now seeking a divorce.
A Department of Justice lawyer reportedly argued that the marriage was not legal in Canada because the couple could not have been legally married in Florida or England, where the two lived.
Or in other words, the couple cannot divorce because they were never really married.
The government’s hard line has cast sudden doubt on the rights and legal status of couples who wed in Canada after a series of court decisions opened the floodgates to same-sex marriage. The mechanics of determining issues such as tax status, employment benefits and immigration have been thrown into legal limbo.
Martha McCarthy, a Toronto lawyer who represents the couple (who cannot be named because of a court order), told The Globe and Mail that the government’s position is "scandalous" and "an offensive to their dignity and human rights."
Same-sex marriage in Canada was effectively legalized by court decisions in 2004, and in 2005 became law under a bill passed by the Liberal government.
The Conservative Party, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been in power since 2006.
The Globe and Mail said that some 15,000 same-sex marriages have taken place in Canada since 2004, including more than 5,000 involving couples from other countries.
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