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UK civil union is not marriage: feds


UK civil union is not marriage: feds

Egale asks government to support same-sex marriage in all forms
For Wayne Hincks, getting a divorce has become a federal matter.
Hincks and his partner, both Canadian citizens, were joined in a civil union in the UK before returning to Canada to live. But when the relationship ended and he tried to file divorce proceedings, he was informed that his civil partnership wasn’t equivalent to a civil marriage under Canadian law.
What’s worse, federal Attorney General Rob Nicholson has now intervened to argue this case.
“Please be advised that the Attorney General of Canada will be intervening in this proceeding to oppose the issuance of a declaration that a civil partnership registered in the United Kingdom is a ‘marriage’ for the purpose of the Civil Marriage Act and that the parties to such a partnership are spouses within the meaning of the Divorce Act,” reads the letter from Nicholson’s office.
However, Egale Canada is pleading with the federal government to think again.
“Civil unions in the UK are recognized, for all intents and purposes, as equivalent to marriage and the same should hold in Canada,” says Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada.
Kennedy sent an open letter to Nicholson, asking him to reconsider his decision to intervene in the case.
“We think it pretty much has the potential to slip through the back door to reopen the issue of marriage in that it won’t recognize civil partnerships from the UK,” Kennedy says, a concern that NDP queer issues critic Randall Garrison shares.
“We’ll be writing to or asking the minister to clarify the government’s position, and I hope it’s not a backdoor way of carving away at same-sex rights,” Garrison says. “It seems to be quite clear that people who enter into a civil partnership in good faith would expect that to be recognized in Canada.
“We’re going to be very clear in calling for a recognition of civil partnerships from other countries as having the same status as marriage in this country, and that includes, obviously, the right to fair treatment for divorce, which is what this specific case is about,” Garrison adds.
In her letter, Kennedy notes that Spain, like Canada, allows same-sex marriage yet recognizes UK civil partnerships as the equivalent of marriage.
Liberal justice critic Irwin Cotler, who was justice minister when changes to the Civil Marriage Act were made to allow same-sex marriage across the country, says the government should not be intervening in this case.
“We should support the intent and the effect of the Civil Marriage Act, which was to provide equal access to gays and lesbians to civil marriage, and this approach by the government of Canada in the manner of its intervention effectively undermines that,” Cotler says, adding that he thinks the government’s case is precarious.
“When I referred the legislation to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court itself was unanimous to the effect that equality was something which not only flowed from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but was indeed mandated by it,” Cotler says. “I would expect that would be the contemporary interpretation if the matter were to go to the courts in that regard.”
Nicholson’s office has declined further comment, saying the matter is before the courts; however, he did speak on the issue in the House of Commons on Oct 6. "We have been very clear that we are not reopening the issue," he said. "But it is a legal dispute over definitions. As this matter is before the court, I look forward to the decision of the court." 
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Marriage & Civil Partnership
I'm afraid Val is right, Trevor. A UK civil partnership is (pretty much) *equivalent* to marriage in terms of rights and responsibilities(as you say),but it is not *legally* marriage. And I should know. My lesbian partner and I (both British citizens) married in Canada but our marriage is deemed a civil partnership in Britain (we brought - and lost - a High Court case to have it recognised as a marriage). It would be a bizarre twist to have a UK civil partnership deemed a marriage in Canada, when a Canadian marriage is not recognised as such in the UK. The way out of this mess, as far as marriage goes, is of course for the British government to implement full marriage equality, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. But everyone is unsure where that leaves civil partnerships ...
Equality for Same Sex Unions
Val. I read your comment and you are wrong. A UK Civil Partnership is equal in all Family Laws to a UK Marriage. As an example, it is a Criminal offense in the UK to marry if you are already married 'OR' in a Civil Partnership, conversely if you enter a Civil Partnership and are already married it is also a criminal offense.

What Ron says is true. But people do migrate between countries. What is being argued in the case here is that a same sex couple from the UK should be treated as a heterosexual couple. That is the equality RIGHT that has been fought by civil and LGBT rights activists and what is written in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No one should lose rights simply for being homosexual - and that is what the Canadian Conservative Government is saying.
Two Different Countries
Let's not try to bring legislation and legalities from other countries into our legal system. Does a marriage in the United States have the same stipulations as those in Canada? How about Holland, or anywhere else for that matter? Regardless if the term marriage, civil partnership or other terminology are used, each country has their own laws, separate and distinct from others.
I'm sorry but it's true
UK Civil Partnerships are NOT considered marriage in the UK and the government over here is opening a consultation next year on the legalisation of same sex marriage.
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