In a swift reversal, the Canadian government will fix gay marriage legislation so the legality of marriages of foreigners will no longer be in question. Earlier this week, government lawyers argued that two lesbians couldn’t get divorced since they were never legally married. According to the government lawyers, a provision of the Civil Marriage Act prevented the marriage of foreigners if it wasn’t legal in their home jurisdiction. The women were from England and Florida, where gay marriage is illegal. The position of the government lawyers seems to have taken the national government off-guard. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the Canadian government would close the gap in the Civil Marriage Act.
Nicholson said the issue was unfair and the government believed same-sex marriages of foreigners should be recognized in Canada. Many of the 5,000 foreign couples married in Canada feared the recent ruling could be an attempt by the conservative government to reverse legislation enacted by the liberal government in power in 2005.
Nicholson says that is not the case. “I want to be very clear that our government has no intention of reopening the debate on the definition of marriage,” he said. “Both myself and the Prime Minister consider this debate to be closed.”
The Liberal government who legalized gay marriage is to blame for the legislative gap that resulted in the confusion, according to the justice minister.
Steven Skurka, legal analyst for CTV news in Canada, says the position taken by the lawyer on the case involving the two women filing for divorce which brought attention to the issue was a mistake. The government’s swift response to reinforce their position is demonstrative of their firm stance on the legality of same-sex marriages.