Yes, you read that right. According the The Globe and Mail, the Harper Government has said that thousands of marriages of foreigners who came to Canada to wed are not valid. This comes to light as a Toronto test case brought forward by a lesbian couple (American and English) seeking a divorce. They couple got married in Toronto in 2005, now sadly wanting a divorce, they were told that they cannot because they were were never really married. A Department of Justice lawyer said their marriage is not legal in Canada due to the fact that they could not have lawfully wed in Florida or England, where they are each from.

Their lawyer, Martha McCarthy told The Globe and Mail, “It is scandalous. It is offensive to their dignity and human rights to suggest they weren’t married or that they have something that is a nullity.” She continued, “It is appalling and outrageous that two levels of government would be taking this position without ever having raised it before, telling anybody it was an issue or doing anything pro-active about it. All the while, they were handing out licences to perform marriages across the country to non-resident people.” She has a very valid point.

Becoming legal in 2004, Canada was one of the first countries in the world to perform gay marriage and an example of equality to other countries. In fact, that is why so many people came to Canada to get married – because they could. Now these thousands of people (up to 5,000 to be more exact) are essentially being discriminated against by having Canada essentially say that their marriage was only for pretend.

In response to all of this, Federal lawyer Sean Gaudet explained the law’s position by saying that couples who came to Canada to be married have to live in the country for at least a year before they can obtain a divorce. In addition, same-sex marriages are legal in Canada only if they are also legal in the home country or state of the couple. “In this case, neither party had the legal capacity to marry a person of the same sex under the laws of their respective domiciles – Florida and the United Kingdom,” he stated. “As a result, their marriage is not legally valid under Canadian law.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “We have no intention of further opening or reopening this issue.” Needless to say this will be a developing story.