Canadian gay marriages of foreigners on trial

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The case involves two women who wish to divorce, who married in Toronto in 2005. Canadian government lawyers are arguing that they can’t divorce because their marriage was never valid. The lawyers contend that the marriages of gay foreigners are only valid if they are valid in the gay couple’s home jurisdiction. Since the women live in Florida and England, where gay marriage isn’t permitted, they were never legally married.

Since 2005, when Canada legalized gay marriage, 20,000 weddings have been performed, 5,000 of which were between foreigners.

If the judge rules in favor of the government, gay marriages of foreigners where it wasn’t permitted in their home jurisdiction would be invalid.

Martha McCarthy, the lawyer representing the two women, said, “It is scandalous. It is offensive to their dignity and human rights to suggest they weren’t married or that they have something that is a nullity.”

McCarthy says, “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.”

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