A gender-exclusive couple previously married in Canada sought a divorce but was refused due to the fact that they weren’t legally married.
Due to a court order, the two women cannot be identified. The partners are from England and Florida, neither of which recognizes same-sex marriage. A Canadian Department of Justice lawyer said they couldn’t dissolve their marriage since it wasn’t considered valid by their home countries.
The women’s attorney Martha McCarthy called the Canadian government’s refusal to divorce the partners “scandalous.”
The Globe and Mail quoted McCarthy:
“It is offensive to their dignity and human rights to suggest they weren’t married or that they have something that is a nullity.”
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“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,” she said. “All the while, they were handing out licences to perform marriages across the country to non-resident people.”
Canada wants wedding dollars from same-sex couples but not their expensive and court-clogging divorces. Gender-exclusive partners have a higher rate of divorce than gender-integrated couples. A study of Norway and Sweden found that “lesbians were six times more likely to divorce compared to heterosexuals.” A senior government official said amending the Divorce Act would create a new batch of problems.
From the Vancouver Sun:
"[It could] make Canada kind of the divorce location of choice and that would put burdens on the courts here."Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the government is seeking other methods to close the “legislative gap” that same-sex couples have fallen through.
"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," he said. "This of course will apply to all marriages performed in Canada."
A follow up article allayed fears that up to 5,000 same-sex marriage licenses issued to foreign tourists, including many from the United States, are invalid.
"The message, then, is not that gay marriage has to fit into the pre-existing framework of laws, but that the legal framework has to be made to fit gay marriage."
Once again society is expected to adapt to a minority of people who don’t want gender-integrated marriage.