By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday January 13, 2012
Conservatives suggest divorce law could be revised
The federal Conservative government suggested Thursday it will revisit the federal divorce law to see how to more easily dissolve the same-sex marriages of couples who married here but cannot get a divorce abroad.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson tried to defuse a growing controversy with a potentially wide-ranging gambit.
It was unclear if the government would also ease residency requirements for divorce for all couples, or would just move to address the need of couples who can’t end their Canadian same-sex marriages abroad.
The move came after revelations that a senior counsel for the federal justice department had opposed a same-sex divorce by arguing firstly that same-sex marriages performed in Canada aren’t “legally valid” unless also recognized by a couple’s home country or state.
Lawyer Sean Gaudet argued secondly that the couple — who married in Toronto in December 2005 and separated two years ago — didn’t meet Canada’s one-year residency requirement (that all couples face) for a divorce. One lives in Florida, the other in the U.K.
It was his first argument that caused a firestorm of public reaction on news websites, and led to charges by opposition critics the government was moving to undo same-sex marriage “by stealth,” as Liberal interim leader Bob Rae put it.
The revelations in a Globe and Mail story blindsided the Prime Minister at a news conference in Halifax.
Stephen Harper said it was news to him and muttered he was not interested in re-opening the gay marriage debate. (Source: Toronto Star)
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