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Canadian Gay Marriages Take Time, Money

Published in “Dallas Voice”

January 31, 2004

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that at the age of 51 I would be marrying another man.

As a baby-boomer raised on New York’s Long Island, two things were certain: I would go to college, and I would get married. I did both.

Upon coming out in 1990, I faced a new world. During the next 14 years I experienced so much of what being gay means. I joined many GLBT organizations, visited gay Meccas and vacation spots, dated a variety of men and became a gay activist.

What I didn’t experience were the same rights that I took for granted while being married to my wife.

Two years ago I found the man of my dreams at a holiday party. Since then our relationship has deepened, and our love has grown.

With the decision by two Canadian provinces last June to allow gay marriages, we decided to marry in Toronto.

Our marriage won’t be recognized in the U.S. or Texas. However, we know that our marriage will be recognized someplace, and that matters to us.

We visited Toronto for four days to get the process started. Having previously been married, it was necessary to prove that my divorce met the legal requirement set forth for a divorce in Ontario. These requirements are the same for straight and gay couples.

We meet with a barrister for an hour, providing him a court-certified copy of my divorce decree with court seal (along with our passports and drivers licenses).

For my divorce to be recognized, I had to prove that either my ex-wife or myself lived in the state where the divorce took place for at least one year prior to the divorce. My sworn statement in the barrister’s office was sufficient.

The barrister will file the appropriate paperwork with the Ontario authorities. Within the next four to eight weeks he should receive documents that we can take to the Toronto City Hall to obtain our marriage license a day or two before our marriage. Marriage licenses are good for 90 days.

Forms have not yet become gender-neutral. Since my partner filled out all of the paperwork, I doubt that it was by accident that I have been listed on all documents as “bride.”

Gays considering marriage in Ontario should not enter such an arrangement lightly. To obtain a divorce in Ontario, one or both of the spouses must reside in Ontario for one year before a divorce can be granted.

We plan on being together “till death do us part.”

A variety of options for the marriage itself are available from various religious facilities and City Hall. My partner found the first openly gay justice in Ontario, and he consented to marry us. His partner will videotape our ceremony for history’s sake and will give us a copy.

As gays garner the right to marry, we also inherit challenges facing all couples preparing to marry. The number of details and costs are frightening. Fortunately, the U. S. dollar is strong in Canada.

There are no set rules so we get to make our own traditions. As a gay couple, we are breaking new ground. For us it is important to legalize our love and make a public statement in doing so.

John R. Selig is a gay activist, freelance writer and photojournalist working in the advertising industry.