Canada's Conservative government (that's "conservative" with a Canadian "c") is sending mixed signals about the country's same-sex marriage law. In 2005 Canada became the Western Hemisphere's first country to legalize same-sex marriage by adopting a gender-neutral definition of marriage, over the opposition of the Conservative Party. Although they took power the following year, the Conservative Party has not moved to re-open the law. But recently the government told a U.S. couple married in Canada that it cannot grant the couple a divorce because the jurisdictions they reside in -- Florida and England -- do not recognize same-sex marriage. Questioned about the government's action, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the issue was not on the Conservative government's agenda, and pled ignorance:
In terms of the specifics of the story this morning, I will admit to you that I am not aware of the details. This I gather is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position based on the law and I will be asking officials to provide me more details.
The Toronto Globe and Mail calls the government's action a legal "about face," and Harper's response a "stumble."
Simon Fodden at Slaw explains how the Conservative government might be trying to have it both ways.
More than a third of the 15,000 same sex marriages that have taken place in Canada involve couples from outside Canada.