Gay couple opt for marriage in Canada
By BARRY GRAHAM - TGI Business Editor
Posted: Thursday, Nov 06, 2003 - 05:52:03 am
It's been quite an eventful past few months for
Kaua‘i residents John Furtak and Steven Keltner.
For over 21 years, the two have been involved
in a gay partnership throughout the Mainland and, for the past 5 1/2 years,
In the last few years, the couple have planned
trips back to the Mainland to visit friends and family.
This past summer in August, Furtak and Keltner
decided that their next trip would involve completing their partnership through
Because Hawai‘i state law does not recognize
a civil union of same-sex couples, Keltner and Furtak weighed their options
and later decided to get married in Canada.
On Oct. 4, the two formed a civil union on Vancouver
Island, British Columbia.
"At first, when we thought about it all through
August, this kind of built up for us," Furtak said. "The build up was kind
of neat. The ceremony was small but, after it was over, we felt that we had
"We just wanted some kind of civil recognition
someplace to acknowledge our relationship. The people over there (on Vancouver
Island) were very supportive. The people there had their own type of aloha."
On June 17, 2003, the Canadian Cabinet approved
a new national policy to open marriage to gay couples, which opened the way
to making Canada the third country (Netherlands and Belgium) to allow same-sex
In approving the new policy, officials from the
Canadian Cabinet viewed previous federal marriage laws as "discriminatory
The new policy opened the way for same-sex couples
from the United States and around the world to travel there to marry, since
Canada has no marriage residency requirements.
Keltner and Furtak obtained a marriage license
in addition to consulting with a marriage commissioner before going through
with the ceremony.
"We feel that we are Hawaiians (kama‘aina),"
said Furtak. "The thing with the states is that if we could have done it
in this country, we would have wanted to do it here in Kaua‘i."
In traveling to Canada to get married, the two
spent an estimated $1,000 on airplane tickets and another $1,500 to $2,000
for food, lodging for five nights, and the cost of obtaining a marriage license
and consulting with a marriage commissioner.
The cost for a Canadian citizen to obtain a marriage
license in their own country is $100 while the fee here in Hawai‘i for a
resident is $60.
The Hawai‘i Legislature in 1994 amended the state's
marriage law to provide that only marriages between a man and a woman are
valid. In Nov. of 1998, Hawai‘i citizens voted to give the state legislature
the power to decide the same-sex marriage issue.
Then in Dec. of 1999, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court
ultimately ruled that same-sex marriage is illegal in Hawai‘i.
"It would have been kind of nice to have been
able to do it here," Keltner said. "We could have pumped money into this
economy as opposed to up there."
"We definitely feel different. It is one of the
neatest feelings to know that when we have to fill out an application and
they ask was our marital status is, we can check married."