Ed Team

Canada, Spain & Indiana

Filed By Ed Team | July 08, 2005 12:24 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement

I have been away, for a couple of weeks, at an annual outing where friends get together and cook for hundreds, sing old songs, the louder, the later, the better, and drink beer. Oh yes, there is a rumor that there is a folk festival somewhere in the vicinity. We run the kitchen for the crew and performers of the Old Songs Festival in Altamont NY, near Albany NY. Long drive from Indy. So afterwards I followed friends (Kif http://thekifpit.blogspot.com/ , Dee http://roosterfarm.blogspot.com/ & Warren who does not blog but plays poker on line and works in a XIXth century saw mill in Upper Canada Village) to their home in rural Ontario, Canada where I found myself on the day that Canada was the first country--so it seems--to vote to recognize the rights of everyone, especially gays and lesbians, to marry the person of their choice with no reservations or equivocations.

The next day Spain voted for the same thing, becoming--for those who think lists are important--the first country to complete the process. For C-38, the Canadian bill, to become law, it must pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor General; a done deal, but it takes some time, and thus Spanish gays and lesbian are probably marrying now, while Canadians will have to wait.

Well no, more than 90% of Canadians can already marry and enjoy the same rights as anyone else. Only two--of ten--provinces (Prince Edward Island with 135,294 inhabitants, and Alberta--Canada's Texas in miniature: cattle, oil & Stetsons--with 2,974,807 inhabitants, and a couple of northern territories with very, very few inhabitants were not governed by nine separate provincial court rulings (and one from the Yukon) that each held that to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry the person of their choice was inequitable and could not be justified in a free and democratic society. That's a Canadian fact. All Canadians, except those in Alberta, will benefit from an end, we hope permanent, to the tawdry debate that has droned on for much of this year.

But, you inquire, haven't Denmark and Belgium already passed laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry? As far as I know they have, but information incidental to the announcement of Spain's ground-breaking vote indicates that they do not allow them to adopt children. Not exactly my definition of equal marriage rights, and a caution to those who think "it" is always better elsewhere.

So, the Spanish government has stood up and said "This is the right thing, so we will do it." Obviously they do not understand politics. The Spanish opposition promises they will repeal the law, or at least, hold a referendum, if they come to power. The polls indicate that they would not be happy with the outcome, but that assumes a fair referendum and a fair question.

In Canada, the government of Alberta has bruited about that they will consider removing the province completely from the business of marrying people so as to spare Albertans the horrible spectacle of happy couples promising to cherish each other.

A last bit of information for those of you who are prone to despair at the mean spirit of too many Hoosier politicians. Less than five years ago, Paul Martin--the present Prime Minister of Canada who led the fight for bill C-38--and Anne McLellan the present Deputy Prime Minister of Canada made solemn promises in the House that they would never allow "gay marriage" in Canada. The Conservative opposition, who by the way, favored complete equality of marriage rights for gays and lesbians; they just opposed allowing them to use the word "marriage", called that change of heart "flip flopping" and "a dishonest betrayal of the electorate". It seems more reasonable to say that the Liberal government listened to the people, considered the arguments presented and the learned opinions of eight provincial, and one territorial, supreme courts and took the opportunity to increase their own understanding.

Thank you, Canada! Merci, Canada! ¡Gracias Espagna! Indiana, grow up!

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AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/09/2005 04:28:44 AM

One little thing -- it's the Netherlands, not Denmark, and Belgium that preceded Spain (and, in the near certain close future, Canada) in national marriage equality. The Scandinavian countries have various versions of expanded domestic partnership, not unlike Germany and England that followed suit, but not marriage.However, before dashing over to Europe to marry, be sure to check the fine print. Getting a marriage license is a bit tricky, if not downright impossible, in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain for non-residents and legal residency can be very difficult to achieve.Already there's been a roadblock in Spain's court to marriages between Spanish citizens and non-citizens whose countries of citizenship do not recognize civil marriages between same-sex couples.But the good news is that Canada has no residency requirements for civil marriage. It's easy to marry there. The only cautionary aspect is that divorce requires a lengthy residency by at least one spouse -- that and you'll be in an Orwellian legal nightmare if you take your marriage seriously enough to stand on it when you come home, so don't run over there and marry on a lark!Besides, those of us same-sex couples with happy Canadian marriages are rather proud of the fact that our divorce statistics are so much lower than those of opposite-sex couples that we don't want those of you in the habit of serial relationships to mess up our fine record!!

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