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Old 09-19-2003, 11:14 AM   #1
malina's Avatar
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Gay couple denied U.S. entry

Gay couple denied U.S. entry after customs wouldn't recognize their marriage
Marlene Habib

TORONTO (CP) - A gay married couple said they were refused entry into the United States after a U.S. customs official at the Toronto airport wouldn't accept their customs clearance form as a family.

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell said they abandoned their trip to Georgia because the customs official insisted that they fill out individual forms as single people.

After complaining to a customs supervisor, Bourassa said, the couple were told that they wouldn't be allowed into the United States as a family because the country doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.

"When we realized we weren't going to be allowed into the country, we had to make a real hard decision," Bourassa, claiming a violation of human rights, said in an interview from their Toronto home. "We could have filled out separate forms, but how much of your dignity do you want to have chip away? We feel we had an affront to our dignity, so we decided to go back home."

Bourassa said he and Varnell were heading to Braselton, Ga., to speak at a human rights conference featuring Coretta Scott King, the widow of human rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Bourassa, who works full time as an advocate for same-sex marriages, and Varnell, a banking manager, were married in 2001 before the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized last June the right for gays to legally marry.

Their 2001 ceremony was then recognized as a legal union in the province in light of the court decision.

The couple's lawyer, Doug Elliott, said he spoke to Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham early Thursday and Graham advised him to deal with Deputy Prime Minister John Manley because he would have more authority over border issues.

Elliott said that although the U.S. customs official was enforcing American law by not allowing Bourassa and Varnell into the United States, "he was doing it on Canadian soil."

"We can't force the U.S. to change its laws on same-sex marriage, but we can insist that Canadian citizens be treated with respect, that the Canadian law regarding family recognition gets respected when it comes to how Canadians treat their families."

Elliott said he's also investigating whether any legal action can be undertaken on his clients' behalf against the governments.

any thoughts?
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Old 09-19-2003, 08:09 PM   #2
rapscalious rob
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That’s stewpid.
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Old 09-19-2003, 08:27 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2002
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It's just red tape bullshite, mixed with some peon border guard that needed to feel special...
Be yourself, because the people that mind don't matter, and the people that matter don't mind.

-Dr. Seuss
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