The Radula has a good post today (like always) about what exactly marriage is:
Many states do not have any legal compunction to recognize marriages made outside the state. You could be a woman married to a man for 50 years and decide to retire to New Mexico and the state COULD deny that you are married. They COULD deny health care, deny the spouse hospital visitation or legal access to the family funds, etc. New Mexico does not. No state does, because a legal marriage is merely assumed to be, and is accepted regardless. Except for ONE population. It’s not atheists, or Wiccans, or Jews. It’s not those who had a civil ceremony, who had no ceremony at all, who stood naked by an alligator infested pond in Florida… it’s JUST homosexuals.
I read a lot about how marriage is a “sacred institution” and how it’s “ordained by God” and other such nonsense. Marriage is a legal and social contract. Any thing beyond that is gravy. If marriage were a sacred institution ordained by god, then most marriages are invalid. Buddhists don’t necessarily believe in god, so they can’t marry. California state law allows witch doctors to preform ceremonies (yes, they’re listed specifically in CA family code)… which would seem to be contrary at least to the Christian god. And what about atheists? We don’t have any gods; do we likewise have no marriages?
Isn’t that a good question?
This insistence on treating marriage as only approved by a church and favourite deity is so behind the times.
In 2005, the Liberal Government in Canada introduced the Civil Marriage Act:
The Civil Marriage Act extends the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. The legal definition of marriage under the Act is as follows:
“Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”
In addition to expanding the definition of marriage, the Act also extends full legal benefits and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples; under this legislation, they receive equal treatment to that received by married heterosexual couples under Canada’s business corporation and cooperatives laws, and in regard to veterans’ benefits, divorce, and income taxes.
It was created in response to a couple of court cases the Supreme Court of Canada dealt with a couple years earlier. It was argued that discriminating against same-sex couples went against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because Section 15 (1) states:
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
The Supreme Court of Canada also declared that only the Federal government can make laws regarding the definition of marriage so provinces that were against the new rules just had to suck it up.
Churches still have the right to deny services to same-sex couples but there are plenty that will. They will also perform ceremonies for people from other countries, but Americans might have trouble because of that Defense of Marriage Act which will probably be in place for a while yet…