You do not have to be Canadian to get married in Ontario, the Toronto City Clerk and the provincial Registrar General told Windy City
Times June 11.
Now that the Ontario Court of Appeal has opened marriage to same-sex couples, and same-sex marriages have begun taking
place, there is nothing to stop American gay couples from hopping across the border and getting marriedfull, real marriage.
Here are the details from the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services: 'A civil marriage can be performed by a judge or a
justice of the peace under the authority of a marriage license. A religious marriage can be performed by a person who is recognized
by a religious body to perform marriages and is registered in Ontario to perform marriages under the Marriage Act. The marriage can
be solemnized under the authority of a marriage license or the publication of banns, depending on the denomination.
'A marriage license can be obtained from the clerk of most cities, townships, towns or villages. ... The marriage license is valid
anywhere in Ontario for 3 months from the date of purchase. The bride or groom ( or both ) apply in person to the Marriage License
Issuer to obtain a license. They will need to bring identification, such as a birth certificate ( along with any change of name certificates ) ,
current passport, Record of Immigrant Landing or Canadian citizenship card, along with photo identification, for both the bride and the
groom. There is a set fee for purchasing a marriage license. Contact your municipal office for the current fee. ( There is also an
additional charge for a civil marriage. )
'You must be at least 18 years old to be married in Ontario by license or under the authority of the publication of banns without
authorization or parental consent. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may marry if you have the consent in writing of both parents.
Other restrictions may apply.
'After the marriage the bride and groom may receive a 'Record of Solemnization of Marriage' giving their names, the date of the
marriage, the names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a license or the publication of
banns. This is a souvenir document and not a legal record. The person who performed the marriage must forward documentation to
the [ provincial ] Office of the Registrar General for registration. Allow approximately 12 weeks from the date of marriage before
applying for your marriage certificate.'
The forms can be downloaded on the Web: www.cbs.gov .on.ca/mcbs/english/4U4V5Z.htm.
'Publication of banns' is an ancient Christian rite that is legally recognized in Ontario. In place of getting a marriage license from
the city clerk, a couple can choose to have their impending marriage announced in church on three consecutive Sundays. The three
announcements themselves create a legal marriage license.
So, if you've been waiting to get married, is now the time to rush to Toronto?
'People should understand that if [ gay ] Americans go to Canada and get married and come home, first and foremost, they are
legally married,' says Evan Wolfson, executive director of the U.S. organization Freedom To Marry. 'This is not just signing up on a
list. ... They are as legally married as any people on the planet, even if they face uncertainty or discrimination back home in the U.S.
'This is a tremendously historic day, a really wonderful step forward, and proof that we can end marriage discrimination in this
country, tooand sooner than people think,' Wolfson said. 'The Canadian decision is going to give us a tremendous opportunity to
show non-gay Americans that the sky doesn't fall when same-sex couples are married.'
Canadian and other foreign marriages are recognized in the U.S. via the legal concept of 'comity,' which, Wolfson says, 'is the
respect given by jurisdictions to other jurisdictions. ... The bottom line of 'comity' is that in almost all cases, a marriage that is legal
where celebrated is respected elsewhere so that people have the security of knowing their family is intact as they travel.'
In reality, what will happen in the U.S. with gay couples who get married in Ontario is 'a patchwork of recognition and resistance,'
'Inevitably some will litigate to defend their families and secure their rights,' he noted. 'I urge people ... to make decisions about
litigation very carefully in consultation with groups like the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, Lambda Legal, and the
National Center for Lesbian Rights. This is a civil-rights struggle and it's not going to be won just because we rush into court one day.
... Couples need to make careful decisions about whether to marry, about the legal uncertainty they may face, and the consequences
of litigatingnot just for themselves but for all of us.'
Last week's ruling occurred as Windy City Times went to press. An editing error included older information about a different
Canadian court decision on same-sex marriage.