Media Contact for Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell:
Gowan, Publicity Manager Doubleday Canada
To contact Kevin or Joe, please email: email@example.com
also are very upset by the Liberal government's decision to appeal the recent
Ontario Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. However, if politicians are
prepared to show their support, by participating we should welcome them. The Pride
Parade is to show the diversity of our community, we must also be allowed to have
Vancouver Pride Parade
Earlier this year, we wrote to a web site, Union Pride, asking to establish a reciprocal link from their site to ours. Steve Houston, Public Service Alliance of Canada, BC Regional Council, GLBT Co-ordinator responded. He not only agreed to my link request, but he sent my email onwards to other union representatives and helped Equal Marriage For Same-sex Couples establish valued connections.
On June 4, 2002, Steve sent the following letter to us:
In addition to the invitation to join us at the pararde, we welcome any material
the Equal Marriage For Same-sex Couples would like to have distributed, as Multi-Union
Pride will be having an information booth at the festival site. With
Pride and Solidarity, Steve Houston
In addition to the invitation to join us at the pararde, we welcome any material the Equal Marriage For Same-sex Couples would like to have distributed, as Multi-Union Pride will be having an information booth at the festival site.
With Pride and Solidarity,
We eagerly accepted the invitation to march with our friends in Vancouver. Robin Roberts & Diana Denny and Bob Peacock and Lloyd Thornhill from the BC Marriage case and Bill Dubay (Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington) joined us in the march, along with other supporters marching with Union Pride.
Member of Parliament (New Democratic Party) Svend Robinson and NDP party-leader candidate Jack Layton were on hand to greet us at the start of the Pride parade (click on picture at the right to enlarge). Both of these politicians have publicly supported our efforts from the very beginning. We have be grateful for their support. Unfortunately, the Liberal politicians marching in the event did not come by the area where our group was assigned to await the start of the parade, so we never had a chance to personally thank Liberal cabinet member Allan Rock, who publicly stated his support for equal marriage.
Some comments from fellow marcher Lloyd Thornhill:
It was a great day for a parade in Vancouver today. What started with cloudy skies and heavy showers, became a rainbow of colour along the parade route. What must have been the biggest crowd ever, turned out for the festivities. As we, the equal marriage group walked up Denman Street, and along Beach Avenue, thousands of people cheered us on. Robin and Diana looked very colourful in their EGALE t-shirts and straw hats. Kevin and Joe were hoarse from shouting " Equal marriage "Now."
We talked to all of the politicians we could get our hands on, plus church groups, union groups, and anyone who would listen to us. Several of the politicians made their commitments to same-sex marriage from the platform. They included Hedy Fry, who said that she would lobby the Prime Minister and other MPs to give full equal rights, including marriage to our community. She was followed by Svend Robinson , Libby Davies, and Jack Layton, who all openly support our right to marry. Then B.C. NDP opposition leader, Joy Macphail slammed the Liberal government of B.C. for withdrawing from our marriage case in B.C.
All in all I believe it was a wonderful day for equal rights in Canada. We must continue to apply pressure on the feds, through letters to the editor, emailing MPs, MLAs,MPPs, etc. We've come too far to let our guard down.
We've been lucky to meet and learn from so many people who have years of experience to share with us. Bill Dubay, from the state of Washington, where he is active as a marriage advocate with the Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington has been corresponding with us, encouraging us, and he even travelled to Vancouver to meet with us and march with the couples in the parade (his partner John was unable to make the trip). It was an amazing show of solidarity with the Canadian effort. We hope to find ways to work more together in the future and we tentatively agreed to meet at the next International Lesbian and Gay Law Association conference, scheduled for Toronto in 2005).
After the parade, Robin and Diana and Bob and Lloyd returned to our temporary quarters for some refreshment and more conversation. All too soon, it was time for us to do another interview and we had to say goodnight to our partners in equality.
An hour later, with no further obligations, other than to meet Bob and Lloyd for brunch the next day, we went outside in search of the gay section of Vancouver. We wandered up and down the streets, looking at store displays and watching people, until we found a place pumping with high-energy music. Off-shore drilling, the ticket said. We bought a pair anyway and slipped into the steamy room and joined the bodies on the dance floor.
"You're the guys," one man exclaimed, before the music took control and then it didn't matter anymore.
Our Vancouver visit was an amazing experience - one we hope to repeat again soon.
In partnership for equality,
Bourassa and Joe Varnell
August, 3, 2002
We arrived in Vancouver on August 1 to a great welcome from Lloyd Thornhill and Bob Peacock, one of the couples in the BC marriage case. They kindly drove us from the airport to our hotel, where, despite having just met, we begged good night to our understanding partners in equality. Our hotel, the Pacific Palisades is just off Robson street in the city's gay friendly west end. We were recognized by the staff at the front desk and soon after we arrived in our room (the pic above is taken from our balcony), a bottle of wine was sent up addressed to "Mr. and Mr. Bourassa". The kindness of Lloyd and Bob and our hotel was a great introduction to this portion of our travels, and we slipped into sleep, relaxed and ready for our 6:00 a.m wake-up call.
We spent the next day, August 2, working with the media. We did a couple of radio interviews in CBC's English and French studios, an interview with Ming Pao newspaper, and an interview with Joey Case and Shaw Televisionfrom our balcony (the camera man loved the view and wanted to use it), in our living room and yes, even in the small kitchen of our 1-bedroom suite. The most fun, however, was filming on the sidewalk on Robson street holding hands. The cameraman was about a block away from us, so people weren't aware of the camera - just us, holding hands. We did some window shopping with camera crew in tow, and then bought some white roses for our rooms (thanks to Nature's Wonders (www.flowerzonline.com) for being understanding and taking part in the filming.
Fairchild Television (with Jerome Yau) began our day on August 3, with a taped interview in the living room of our suite. It was a beautilful day, so after the interview we set out to explore the city. We first went to the waterfront and strolled along the walkways that line the edge of the city. We found a private boat with a spare cruiser and helicopter on board, and of course, the large cruise ships docked at B.C. Place.
We continued past B.C. Place and explored the beautiful train station before we entered the historic "Gas Town" of old Vancouver. We wandered the smaller, irregular streets and alleys of the old section of town.
When we finished our last interview of the day, with CKNW (live network program through-out western Canada with Stirling Faux) at 8:45 p.m., we took a cab to the home of Skyy Powers (host of radio program Fruit Salad) perched high above Vancouver. A gracious host with the perfect spot to watch the night's fireworks display over the harbour! The guests were charming and fascinating, the food was delicious, but as with every night during our stay, we found ourselves unable to shake eastern time from our bodies and we left the party early (11:00ish) to go home to sleep in preparation for the next day's parade.
Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell
A discussion: equal marriage for same-sex couples
We welcomed the opportunity to take part in a discussion about some of the issues raised about equal marriage in our book, Just Married. The eventing was graciously hosted by Chapters in Vancouver. Our thanks to Crystal Allen, Area Maketing Manager.
Sky Powers, host of "Fruit Salad" a gay and lesbian radio show on 102.7 FM and 102.9 Cable (Lower Mainland), various cable frequencies around B.C. and across Canada on Star Choice Channel 845. Sky, thank you for your sensitive and engaging contribution!
Bourassa and Joe Varnell, coauthors of Just Married
From the BC Marriage case: Melinda Roy & Tanya Chambers, Robin Roberts & Diana Denny, and Bob Peacock & Lloyd Thornhill. Thank you!
From the Surrey Book Banning case: James Chamberlain
have booked many events for my stores in BC, and hosted many events at the Robson
store. I have to say that your event was my favorite of any that I have been a
part of. You were both so relaxed, very open and honest, and most important extremely
friendly, flexible and easy to work with. I would book you both again in a heartbeat
and would recommend you to any bookstore for an event."
Marriage For Same-Sex Couples
The Vancouver Sun reported, erroneously it seems, that Vancouver parade organizers might ban two senior federal Liberal cabinet ministers and two other members of the Liberal party unless they publicly state their support for same-sex marriage. According to the paper, Barb Snelgrove, from the Vancouver Pride Society, said that the group asked Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, Industry Minister Allan Rock, Secretary of State Stephen Owen and MP Hedy Fry for their opinion on the discrimination practiced by their political party. Based on the responses, the paper said, the society may decide to ban the politicians from appearing.
Today, we learned of a different view.
"I would love to see every government politician in this country come out in support of marriage," Joe Varnell wrote to Barb Snelgrove the day before departing Toronto to march for equal marriage in the Vancouver parade, "but the reality is that these cabinet ministers face a difficult choice. If they publicly take a position contrary to the one that their government adopts, their only choice is to resign! This would be a wonderful, principled and laudable stance but would be tantamount to martyrdom. It would mean, on a practical level, that the decision about whether to proceed with discriminatory action or to invoke the Notwithstanding clause in the case of our win would fall exclusively to those in government who oppose us ... to be reticent in order to remain in a position to help our community is not something that warrants censure. Indeed, the presence of these individuals at the Pride parade has to send a strong message of support for the issues concerning our community."
Barb responded quickly, saying "the Vancouver Pride Society has not, and will not, ban anyone from attending this year's parade unless they are representative of homophobic and/or unlawful acts." The politicians were asked their opinions "partially due to potential security concerns" and because same-sex marriage is "an issue that is important to the GLBT community."
Barb concluded by describing the subject as a "non-issue".
Please use your anger constructively - contact our politicians to demand respect for equality and our charter.
Our thanks to the Stephanie Gowan at Doubleday in Toronto and Jennifer Tobin and Trevor Howes at National Public Relations in Vancouver for bringing us together with:
Radio - Early Edition
Vancouver pride brings out the best in our global family (Bill Dubay, Seattle Gay News)