You? Or is there a good explanation for the federal government's decision I'm not aware of?
The issue is how Canadian law and authorities should treat same-sex couples who have contracted a civil partnership in the United Kingdom. Unlike Canada, the U.K. doesn’t have marriage for same-sex couples. Rather, in 2004, it introduced civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples as a form of relationship recognition that is materially the same as marriage in everything but name.
The question reached an Ontario court after the relationship breakdown of two Canadian men joined by a U.K. civil partnership. Returned to Canada, one filed for divorce and sought spousal support. The other argued that they could not be divorced in Canada on the basis that they were not spouses under Canadian law.
[. . . T]he federal government intervened to oppose recognizing the U.K. civil partnership in Canada. It argued that the men should return to the U.K. and launch proceedings there because their relationship effectively didn’t exist in Canada.
[. . .]
Canadian law and policy recognize same-sex marriage. The U.K.’s Parliament has defended civil partnership for same-sex couples as equal to marriage. Canadian courts recognize the marriage of a straight couple married in the U.K. There is no reason why Canadian law shouldn’t recognize the union of a gay couple with a U.K. civil partnership.
The Ontario government recognized that viewing the two men as spouses was appropriate. But the federal government supported the sole alternative. Since neither federal law nor Ontario law has a civil union or civil partnership, refusing to recognize the marriage would view the men as strangers one to the other.
It’s troubling that this case fits into a bigger picture of the federal government’s ambivalence toward same-sex marriage. Last year, Ottawa’s lawyers argued similarly that the marriages of foreign gay men and lesbians performed in Canada were invalid.
In response to media pressure, the government changed its tune. It promised to legislate quickly to secure the status of such marriages. The justice minister introduced a bill nearly a year ago. But it hasn’t received a minute of debate.