Photo By Kevin Bourassa, 2001
Douglas Elliott, Elliott & Kim, Toronto

 

"... before even seeing the forms, the Honourable Robert Runciman announced that he would be rejecting the documents Reverend Hawkes was planning to submit on the grounds of a prohibition in federal law."

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Make no mistake. In our view, this refusal by the Ontario Government to accept our documents and to register these marriages has no impact on the legal validity of these marriages"

 

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto "will not allow the Government to make the Church and unwilling party to unlawful discrimination against gay and lesbian couples."

 

 

 

Link to  Elliott & Kim - our heroes fighting for our right to marriage in Ontario

 

Press Release from the Offices of Elliott & Kim :
January 19, 2001

"Last year the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto introduced the ancient Christian practice of publishing banns of marriage, which permits marriage following a series of three weekly announcements during divine service of a couple's intention to marry . Under section 5 of the Ontario Marriage Act, the Church is permitted to marry a couple where the banns have been published without the need for a license issued by the municipal clerk. On International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2000, Reverend Hawkes published the banns of marriage for Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, and for Elaine and Anne Vautour. He also published the banns for these couples on the two following Sundays. Reverend Hawkes received no lawful objection in response to these publications.

On Sunday, January 14, 2001, Elaine and Anne and Kevin and Joe were married in the Church. The marriage was recorded in the Church's marriage register, and the forms required by law were duly completed. Reverend Hawkes expressed his hope that day that when the forms were received by the Ontario Government, they would be registered in accordance with s.19 of the Vital Statistics Act. However, the next day, before even seeing the forms, the Honourable Robert Runciman announced that he would be rejectinng the documents Reverend Hawkes was planning to submit on the grounds of a prohibition in federal law. on Tuesday of this week, after Reverrend Hawkes had submitted the forms, I contacted Mr. Robert Charney, counsel for the Attorney General of Ontario, about these documents. Mr. Charney confirmed to me that the documents would refused for registration, and that the Church and the couples would be notified in writing. I then connsulted the Church and the couples about our next step.

This morning, we issued an Application for judicial review in the Divisional Court of Ontario on behalf of the Church seeking a Court Order compelling Ontario to register these marriages. The couples have agreed to support this proceeding by filing affidavits with the Court. The Respondents in the Application are the Ontario Government and the Government of Canada. The Respondents have been made aware of this proceeding, and they will be served shortly.

Next Friday, we will be bringing a motion to have this case tried at the same time as the existing case brought by a number of couples, represented by Martha McCarthy, who are seeking to obtain marriage licenses from the City of Toronto. At present, I can confirm that both Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Charney have consented to this linking of the cases, but I have not been advised of the position of the Attorney General of Canada. By linking the cases, we hope to maximize the efficient use of the Court's time. If we are successful, our application will be heard in October [Application was heard in November 2001].

Make no mistake. In our view, this refusal by the Ontario Government to accept our documents and to register these marriages has no impact on the legal validity of these marriages. It was open to the Church and the couples to simply ignore the reistration requirement under the Vital Statistics Act. However, the law does oblige the Church to register the marriages with the Ontario government for statistical purposes, and the Church concluded that it was bound to comply with the law.

The Church was also entitled to ignore the refusal to reister these documents. In our view, the Registrar General has no authority to pass judgment on the validity of these marriages but only to ensure that the documents have been correctly completed. However, the Church has concluded that it must defend the integrity of these marriages and of its religious freedom to marry in accordance with its religious views, and not to permit the religious restrictions of others to be imposed on it by the Government. The Church will not allow the Government to make the Church and unwilling party to unlawful discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. Our instructions are to pursue this action vigorously, if necessary all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada."

Douglas Elliott, Elliott & Kim