Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh, Canada

Well, after a surprisingly long 14 hour drive we are in our home away from home, Toronto.  The wait at the border was 3 1/2 hours.  We forgot that this was the last day of a long weekend for Canadians, who celebrate Boxing Day. Couple that with a few snow storms on the way (including a lake effect storm in Buffalo) and possibly increased vigilance after the latest terrorist attempt and our trip was 4-5 hours longer than usual.

Of course, so much time in the car allowed me time to think.  And one thing I thought about was how our marriage status changed as we traveled from Boston to Toronto.  It's pretty crazy.

1. In Massachusetts we were in a state that allows same-sex couples to get married and that acknowledges same-sex marriages from outside the state.  Pretty straight forward, no pun intended.

2. In New York we were in a state that doesn't allow same-sex marriage but does recognize same-sex marriages from other states, including ours.  A little more complicated.

3. In Canada we are in a country that allows same-sex marriage but doesn't recognize our marriage because foreign governments generally only recognize agreements that are recognized but the federal government of the United States.  And since the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the U.S. federal government from recognizing a same-sex marriage from Massachusetts, Canada can't recognize our marriage.  (Usually, however, in practice they do.  When we enter Canada by air, we are usually allowed to fill out one customs card as "family," although this is at the whim of the customs agent.  Compare this to the US customs agent who, once we told him we were married in Massachusetts, sternly admonished us and sent Bruce back to the line so he could process us separately -- even though we had filled out separate cards.  File this under "ever wonder why we call it hate?")

More tomorrow.  It's 2:00 AM (we arrived at 1:30 AM) and are winding down, along with our bassets, Shakespeare and Willa, who are just as happy to be sleeping on the sofa as Bruce and I are to have finally reached our destination.


  1. Don't you love passive discrimination? Got a story to share with you.

    I was in New Hampshire for Christmas and was talking about having gone on the National Equality March with Granny. She said she was supportive of gay marriage, which I thought was a promising start. Then she explained that if gay people were allowed to marry, it would slow the spread of diseases. Wonderful.

  2. Wow. Not sure how I would even respond to that!

  3. Hey,
    Thanks for yet another very interesting post. You actually answered a question that I had on my mind for some time but that I never bothered to look up: What happens when a married same-sex couple leaves for another region where same-sex marriage is not recognized?! Can they still open a joint bank account? Can they sign the lease for a house as a 'couple? etc.
    Now, what's even more fascninating about this post is the customs and immigration desk. I am fascinated by this space-- since migration and citizenship is part of what I study-- but I never actually wondered what could happen to same-sex couples in this space. Very interesting. Thank you!

  4. We have been able to open a joint bank account in Canada and have purchased a home together in Toronto -- but I the agreement doesn't list us as married. It's all so crazy. We are hoping to get dual citizenship someday, but it's quite complicated. What we'll probable end up doing is remarrying here in Canada. Thanks for your response!