Advocacy Events - International Freedom to Marry Day - Feb. 14
January 18, 2006
International Freedom to Marry Day - Feb14
We first began promoting equal marriage on Valentine's Day in 2002 with a fundraising concert. We called for a Canadian national day of action on February 14 2003, 2004 (here too), and 2005. This year, with equal marriage for same-sex couples a reality across Canada, we join in the international call for action in countries that live without equal marriage.
As Canadians well know, countries with equal marriage must remain vigilant against attacks on rights and freedoms. We may one day have to rejoin the actions outlined below in this press release from MCC Communications department:
Veteran human rights activist Rev. Dr. Troy D. Perry will lead public events and demonstrations scheduled for hundreds of marriage bureaus around the world on Valentine's Day. Perry will serve as organizer and spokesperson for the annual events by Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), the world's largest religious denomination with a primary affirming ministry to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.
"I am pleased that Rev. Perry has agreed to lead our international Valentine's Day efforts for marriage equality," said Rev. Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator of the MCC denomination. "Rev. Perry is a historic figure in the civil rights movement and a long-time activist on behalf of marriage equality for LGBT people," said Wilson.
According to Time Magazine, Perry performed the first public same-sex wedding in the United States in 1969. In 1970, he filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition for same gender marriages. In later years Perry noted, "We lost that first lawsuit, but it put the issue of marriage equality into the public discourse and launched four decades of our work for marriage equality for LGBT people."
MCC is a strong international supporter of marriage equality. The world's first legally-recognized same-sex marriage was performed by Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, an clergyperson, at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on January 14, 2001. An Ontario court later ruled the marriage to be legal, opening the door to full marriage equality for gays and lesbians in Canada.
Rev. Perry singled out the work of one of the first married couples, Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, members of MCC Toronto who promoted Valentine's Day actions in Canada, and beyond, in their activities.
"Kevin and Joe's commitment to their website, means that millions of people have been learning about the issue of same sex marriage equality."
Perry and his partner, Philip Ray DeBlieck, were legally married under Canadian law in Toronto, Canada on July 16, 2003. Upon their return to the US, they filed and won a lawsuit against the State of California seeking legal recognition of their Canadian marriage. The case is on appeal.
[In countries without equal marriage] Perry is again calling for same-sex couples to go to marriage bureaus and courthouses on Valentine's Day, February 14, and to apply for marriage licenses.
"There is something empowering about taking a public stand and letting our public officials and our communities know we expect to be treated equally under the law," said Perry. "I encourage couples in every country around the globe where same-gender marriage is not yet a legal right to go to your marriage bureau on Valentine's Day and apply for marriage licenses. Invite the media, tell your stories, demonstrate your love, and make a difference."
"Civil unions and domestic partnership laws are an inadequate answer," said Perry. "Civil unions constitute a form of special rights and we've never believed in special rights. We believe in the Canadian model, where less than equal is always less than adequate. We expect to be treated with equality under the law. More and more of our fellow citizens understand and embrace this principle. Civil unions and domestic partnership laws relegate gay and lesbian people to second-class status. They are options that are separate and unequal."
Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has prepared a free resource kit for couples who want to organize a Valentine's Day public action. The kit, which contains a step-by-step guide, sample press releases, and links to marriage organizations, is available by e-mail by writing to info@MCCchurch.org.
Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) is the world's largest Christian denomination with a primary affirming ministry to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons. More than 250 local MCC congregations are located in 23 countries, and more than 225,000 persons annually attend MCC services and programs.