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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bro Has My Back in NH, But Canada Stabs Gay Couples in the Back

I guess you fellas know that New Hampshire Republicans are trying to repeal the state's equal-marriage law, which came into effect on January 1, 2010. But in one family, at least, family values are proving stronger than party loyalty. The story goes like this:
Craig Stowell fought with the U.S. Marines in Iraq in 2004 and now is fighting for the right of gays, like his brother, to marry in New Hampshire.

"My brother and best friend, Calvin, was tormented all the way through high school because people knew he was gay," Craig Stowell, 30, said in an online petition seeking to pressure New Hampshire legislators not to repeal the state's 2009 law that legalized gay marriage. . . .

As the New Hampshire Legislature prepares to vote on whether to repeal the law, HB 437, Craig Stowell -- who serves as the Republican co-chairman of Standing Up For New Hampshire Families -- has launched an online campaign to keep the law as it is.

"If HB 437 passes, same-sex couples will no longer be allowed to marry," he says in an online petition he has posted at www.change.org. "This mean-spirited attack is nothing more than state-sponsored bullying."

In other news, remember all those gay and lesbian couples who got hitched in Canada after equal marriage became the law of the land in 2005?  Well now a Canadian lawyer in the Justice Department of Stephen Harper's Conservative government, which won a huge majority in last year's parliamentary election, has argued before a court that foreign couples who could not marry in their home countries cannot legally marry in Canada, either - which would make several thousand gay and lesbian couples now totally unhitched, their marriages null and void.

Dan Savage, who married his husband Terry Miller in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2005, commented this morning: 
When I got out of bed, I was a married man and as soon as I got on my Twitter feed I realized I had been divorced overnight.
A shocked Olivia Chow, member of Parliament for downtown Toronto and widow of the late New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, says Harper's government has used a "back-door way" to attack same-sex marriage, and has hugely embarassed the nation with this about-face.

Video report here from the CBC, which won't let me embed it.

Update:  Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and Freedom to Marry have issued a joint statement on the news from Canada. Excerpt:
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. . . .

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.

Nother update:  Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Friday that equal marriage is still cool - and, most importantly, legal - in Canada, no matter where you're from:
I want to make it very clear that, in our government’s view, these marriages should be valid. 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. This will apply to all marriages performed in Canada. We have been clear that we have no desire to reopen this issue – both myself and the prime minister consider this debate to be closed.
Well, that's a relief for lots of folks, I'm sure.


Al Martin said...

It would seem that some comments have either been taken out of context or misunderstood. There are few requirements to obtaining a marriage license in Canada (ei. not already being married, first cousins or closer among others). The flap is really about issuing a divorce decree - there is no residency requirement for marriage licenses, however there is a requirement for of 1 year residency for a divorce. This is a fact that has been publicly known for sometime. I saw a comedian make a routine of this back in 2006 at the Montreal Comedy festival.

As for actual comments in court, or even those by the Harper government, (and not that I would place any trust whatsoever in Harper), we need to wait and see.

As for marriage equality....even after a win, its never over, and this brouhaha just supports that. Harper has repeatedly said that the discussion on same sex marriage will not be reopened. (While I believe the only reason he makes that statement is he can't afford to lose any support) I hope he is being honest.

DeepBlue said...

I haven't read all details about the issue in Canada yet, but I think A. Martin sums it all pretty well. We should not jump to conclusion too quick!

For me, I think all the fuss is good. It avoids us to take anything for granted and reminds us to stay alert!

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