LGBT Legal Groups: Canadian Marriages of Same-Sex Couples Are Not in Jeopardy

(San Francisco, CA, January 12, 2012)—The following is a joint statement from Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Freedom to Marry:

We write to respond to a news report from Canada that a lawyer in the current government has taken a position in a trial-level divorce proceeding that a same-sex couple’s marriage is not valid because the members of the couple were not Canada residents at the time that they married, and the law of their home jurisdiction did not permit them to marry at the time.

No one’s marriage has been invalidated or is likely to be invalidated. The position taken by one government lawyer in a divorce is not itself precedential.  No court has accepted this view and there is no reason to believe that either Canada’s courts or its Parliament would agree with this position, which no one has asserted before during the eight years that same-sex couples have had the freedom to marry in Canada.

Canada permits non-residents to marry and thousands of non-resident same-sex couples have married there since Canada first began recognizing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in 2003. Indeed, Canada’s Parliament codified the equal right to marry for same-sex couples in 2005.

The message for same-sex couples married in Canada remains the same as it is for same-sex couples validly married here in the United States: take every precaution you can to protect your relationship with legal documents such as powers of attorney and adoptions, as you may travel to jurisdictions that don’t respect your legal relationship. There is no reason to suggest that Canadian marriages of same-sex couples are in jeopardy, or to advocate that people try to marry again elsewhere, as that could cause these couples unnecessary complications, anxiety, and expense.

Media Contacts:

Erik Olvera
Communications Director
NCLR
Office: 415.392.6257 x324
Mobile: 415.994.3242
EOlvera@NCLRights.org

Jonathan  Adams
Public Information Officer
Lambda Legal
Office: 212.809.8585 X267
Mobile: 646.752.3251
JAdams@LambdaLegal.org

Carisa Cunningham
Director of Public Affairs and Education
GLAD
Office: 617.426.1350
Mobile: 617.447.6500
ccunningham.glad.org

Robyn Shepherd
Media Relations Associate
American Civil Liberties Union
Office: 212.519-7829
Media@ACLU.org

Angela Dallara
Communications Associate
Freedom to Marry
Office: 212.851.8418
Mobile: 646-430-3925
Angela@FreedomtoMarry.org

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