Confronting Canada: Couples Who Have Tied the Knot in Canada Are Forcing U.S. Government Officials and Private Businesses to Grapple with the Reality of Same-Sex Marriage

Article excerpt

Canadian gay couple Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell were on their way to a civil rights conference in Georgia when the newlyweds were confronted by U.S. opposition to their legal relationship. Having successfully sued the Canadian government for the right to marry last year, and having had their marriage ratified by an appellate decision in June, the Toronto couple dutifully filled out the U.S. Customs form for a two-person family.

But when customs officials demanded that Bourassa, and Varnell fill out separate forms as single people, they refused and went home. "It's an invasion of the charter rights and values that we have in our country," Bourassa said. "We simply ask that [the United States] recognize a marriage that their neighbors to the north do. A little piece of our dignity has been chipped away."

The incident is part of a growing body of evidence that Canada's new rights are forcing U.S. government agencies and businesses to confront the changing realities of same-sex marriage. Because the right to marry in Canada is not limited to Canadian gay couples, many U.S. couples have been traveling there to get married, and that trend is having an impact here at home. And while many U.S. businesses and major daily newspapers have embraced gay marriage with services and announcements, some are still struggling with the issue. …