Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back on the Emotional Rollercoaster--Momentarily

Back in December, there were reports that former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had been sending communications to supporters of the Liberal party warning them that Harper's Conservative government was secretly planning to repeal same-sex marriage. This was dismissed as propaganda and posturing, and I took no notice.

Then, suddenly, earlier this week, the news was that the Canadian Department of Justice lawyer had told a couple who was married in Canada but never resided in Canada that their marriage was invalid as it wasn't recognized in their home jurisdictions (Florida and United Kingdom). I soon had friends contacting me, asking me how this affected Sarah and my marriage.

At first, I went into panic mode, and for the first time in several years, I could feel the anxiety about the security and permanence of my relationship building up again. I thought about it for a while--I wasn't sure what to think. After all, at the time Sarah and I were married in Windsor in 2006, we were landed immigrants but not yet permanent residents. We were still living in Michigan at that time, so I had no idea, if this recent court decision declaring same-sex marriages of non-residents invalid would affect us.

Thinking about it a bit more, I realized that Sarah and I have been living together in Canada as permanent residents for over three years, making us common law spouses in Canada regardless. That made me feel a bit better, but I still didn't like the idea that my treasured marriage certificate was meaningless.

The next day, the Conservatives started rapidly backpedaling after a tidal wave of backlash from the gay community. The Justice Minister and the Prime Minister both said that they had no intention of invalidating same-sex marriages, and Harper said, as he has said for many years now, that he considers the gay-marriage debate settled, and I do believe him. Now, whether his other ministers and appointees feel the same way. . .I'm not so confident.

As much as I feel a bit better about the situation now that the Conservative government is saying that they are going to find a way to ensure that all same-sex marriages performed in Canada are valid in Canada, that brief moment of panic reminded me of the stress and anxiety I left behind when I moved from Michigan. Some of the nasty Republican presidential candidates' campaign commercials that happen to come across my TV here from US television stations also remind me of an entire element of stress I no longer have in my life.

However, whether Harper says the same-sex debate is closed in Canada, it clearly isn't or this whole topic wouldn't even be in the news now. Only time will tell what the actual implications are. But, there are two things I know for sure--1) Perhaps when Liberals like Chretien express a concern, they shouldn't be so readily dismissed as Chicken Littles, and 2) A government's recognition of civil rights is never guaranteed, and those rights can disappear at any time. It's a very slippery slope. As one of my favorite sayings goes, "Ignore your rights and they'll go away."

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