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Case For Legal Recognition

MCCT v Canada

MCCT is the third largest congregation in the entire UFMCC denomination. It has the largest annual Christmas Eve service in Toronto, perhaps in Canada, attracting over 2,000 people to Roy Thomson Hall. The senior pastor of MCCT, Reverend Brent Hawkes, is a well-known leader in the LGBT community. MCCT has been active on social justice issues, and was an intervener in the Supreme Court in Egan v. Canada.[26]

For years, MCCT has been offering weddings to heterosexuals. Given the inability to obtain marriage licenses for same sex couples, it has been offering similar ceremonies for same sex couples that, until recently, were called “holy unions”.

The question of a legal challenge regarding marriage has been simmering in the LGBT community for some time. A number of lawyers who have been active in this field have been having discussions about how and when to tackle the problem. One of those lawyers is Professor Kathy Lahey. Knowing about my membership in MCCT, she raised the banns issue with me. In an act of divine intervention over the Internet, she sent me an email on June 16 of last year outlining section 5 of the Ontario Marriage Act. She noted that there was no express prohibition on same sex marriage by banns, and urged MCCT to consider using this tool.

As a former Anglican I was familiar with the concept of banns, although not its legal significance. Reverend Hawkes, as a Baptist, was not familiar with the process, but he was interested in appropriating liturgical practices from the Anglicans once again. The Board of MCCT approved the adoption of this measure, and it was announced to the congregation. The announcement was greeted with a euphoric response.

[26] [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513.

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