Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Note to Canada's government - Our Canadian brothers and sisters aren't ATMs

Really.

A ruling is expected in the largest gay and lesbian class action suit in the history of... man this is huge. The Canadian government gave widowed partners in same-sex couples the pensions of their partners when it opted for full and equal marriage - for all those whose partners died after January 1998. Now those surviving partners of people who died before that date are suing for the pensions and accrued interest going all the way back to 1985. The total is over $100 million Canadian, which is about $78 American (man that joke never gets old).

I'd say there's a good chance that Team Q will win. From the Globe and Mail:
In two lower court rulings, Ottawa lost its argument that survivor benefits should only be extended to gays widowed after 1997. The judges agreed with the roughly 400 gays and lesbians in the class-action suit that the cutoff date should coincide with the Charter coming into effect.

In the latest decision in November, a panel of justices at the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the view of the Ontario Superior Court that the government's 1998 cutoff wasn't "rational."
That's three courts so far....

Canada is, of course, way ahead on the gays-are-real-human-beings game than the US is. Can you imagine a suit like this happening here? I mean, we have an international reputation for being letigious, but we not so recently had to win the right to exist. So this amount of money, while it's huge, could have been paid out evenly throughout the last 22 years so that it wouldn't be so much all at once. Instead, the Canadian government treated its own citizens like ATMs all these years, took their tax money and pension contributions, and kept the real and material benefits of paying those taxes away from a segment of their population. They made their bed, and now they have to sleep in it.

Also, one thing I love about Canadian newspapers is that they refer to their supreme court as "the Supreme Court of Canada", as if there's a need to clarify.