OTTAWA — The federal government is moving to close a legal loophole that could have undermined thousands of gay marriages around the world.
The governing Conservatives have introduced amendments to the Civil Marriage Act to ensure the marriages are recognized.
The changes are prompted by a divorce case in Ontario involving a gay couple.
Legal documents filed by the federal government in the case had argued that even though the couple married in Canada, they couldn’t be considered legally married because it wasn’t recognized in their U.S. and United Kingdom homes.
Therefore, they couldn’t get a divorce.
Gay-rights activists and opposition politicians had accused the Tories of trying to rewrite the rules on same-sex marriage to suit their own agenda.
But the government says its opinion is that the marriages were valid and it doesn’t want to reopen the debate on the definition of marriage.
“Recently it came to light that there was an anomaly in our civil marriage laws,” said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
“We are fixing the anomaly in the law.”
The government said the amendments will make all marriages of non-resident couples that were performed in Canada valid under Canadian law, and will also allow these couples to end their marriages if they cannot get a divorce where they live.