Get Busy, Get Equal, Get Married? ACLU Helps Same-Sex Couples Decide Whether to Tie the Knot in Canada

August 13, 2003 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today released “”Getting Hitched in Canada,”” a concise guide to same-sex marriage in Ontario and British Columbia. The guide gives straightforward answers to basic questions about getting married up North, including how to get a license and what same-sex Canadian marriages will mean back in the states. The guide is available at /getequal/rela/canada.html.

“”It has been a truly amazing summer for gay rights. Just as the Supreme Court welcomed us into the family by saying that our relationships must be respected, our neighbors in Ontario and British Columbia gave same-sex couples the ultimate legal recognition, marriage,”” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

“”Getting married is something that many lesbians and gay men have dreamed about. Now that the dream is becoming a reality, people need to know how to do it and what it will mean before making the trip,”” Coles added.

“”Getting Hitched”” gives same-sex couples what they need to know to plan a Canadian wedding, from what kind of identification they need to get into the country to where to get marriage licenses to who can perform the service. The process turns out to be simple. Although couples do need to get a license, there’s no waiting period or blood test.

The guide also answers some of the questions that couples may ask when they return home. Vermont, which has a civil union system that is legally the same as marriage, seems sure to recognize Canadian marriages. But it isn’t clear that other states will, at least at first, Coles said. Businesses that recognize domestic partners seem a good bet to respect same-sex Canadian marriages as well.

The ACLU gives couples practical advice on how to honestly answer questions on forms for jobs, credit, mortgages, insurance and medical treatment as well as information about the tax and immigration consequences of same-sex marriage. Couples with children or who want to have children can learn how getting married in Canada will (or won’t) affect their status as parents.

While it’s easy to get married, “”Getting Hitched”” says it won’t be so easy for most American same-sex couples to get divorced, because Canada has a one-year residency requirement. Vermont also has a one-year residency requirement for divorce. This puts couples who marry in Canada in a tough position should they decide to split up.

The ACLU is producing “”Getting Hitched”” as part of its “”Get Busy, Get Equal”” campaign. The ACLU began that campaign and launched its accompanying website immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a Texas law that made some forms of sexual intimacy a crime for gay people. The materials at /getequal explain the significance of the Court’s ruling and encourage gay people and their supporters to take advantage of this historic moment to work for LGBT equality.

Among the many tools that the site provides is a one-click action alert that viewers can use to urge their Representatives to oppose the Constitutional Amendment that would ban recognition of same-sex relationships and destroy many of the hard-won same-sex relationship protections that are already in place. The site also provides detailed instructions on how to lobby for a municipal or workplace domestic partnership policy.

To read the ACLU’s Q&A on same-sex marriage in Canada, visit /getequal/rela/canada.html.

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