"Love is the fundamental basis of all Christian teaching."
Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes' Affidavit

















"Most Canadians would agree that one group in society should not impose its religious beliefs on another group with a different view."
Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes' Affidavit

 

 




"We deeply hope that our nation, with its rights and protections, will prove to be a country that stands for all Canadians, and will provide full and equal rights to marriage regardless of sex or sexual orientation."
Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell's Affadvit



 



Link to learn more about our book Just Married:  Gay Marriage and the Expansion of Human Rights

 

 


 

 




"I firmly believe that God has created me just the way I am."
Tom Allworth, Ontario Applicant















"Our lives together have been spent overcoming those who would wish us to be apart or invisible."
Alison Kemper, Ontario Applicant















"I am engaged in this struggle to achieve the freedom to marry as part of our continuing effort to keep our kids safe - not just our kids but all kids. "
Joyce Barnett, Ontario Applicant


 

















"If the government refuses to validate our relationship, why should the citizens of this country?"
Rebekah Rooney, Ontario Applicant














"I have a right to be here, to live, to explore, to learn, to love, to cherish, and to participate in life fully."
Gail Donnelly, Ontario Applicant






External Link to Authentic Lives


















"Marriage is important to us spiritually and emotionally."
Julie Erbland, Ontario Applicant





 








"The government has relegated us to the status of 'pretend couple' by not recognizing our marriage exactly as it would for a heterosexual couple."
Colleen Rogers, Ontario Applicant


 

 

 

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"My brothers and my sister have all been legally married ... I look forward to the day when I can call each of my siblings and invite them to my wedding as they each have done for me."
Michael Stark, Ontario Applicant


 

 

 














"Our laws need to catch up to today's modern expanded concepts of family, and not place one form over another."
Carolyn ("C.J.") Rowe, Ontario Applicant


 


 


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Legal - Ontario - Ontario Couples

The Legal Challenge: Ontario Couples


METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH OF TORONTO

The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT) is part of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), founded by the Reverend Elder Troy Perry in 1968. With a ministry to all people, and a large lesbian and gay congregation, the UFMCC is one of the fastest growing Christian denominations in the world. The MCCT is the largest UFMCC in Canada.

Rev. Hawkes, Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell (Photo by MCC Toronto, 2001)After publishing banns for same-sex couples Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell and Elaine & Anne Vautour in accordance with an age-old legal tradition, the MCCT married the couples in a double wedding ceremony on January 14, 2001. When both the Province of Ontario and the federal government refused to recognize the validity of these marriages, the MCCT issued legal proceedings to protect its rights to religious freedom and equality.

From Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes' affidavit:

Love is the fundamental basis of all Christian teaching.Rev. Hawkes, Elaine and Anne Vautour (Photo by MCC Toronto, 2001)Because of their Christian heritage, their current faith and for many, their current loving relationships, access to marriage has always been desired by many in our congregation. In fact, blessing same sex unions was one of the first types of services provided by UFMCC when it was founded over 30 years ago.

I believe that most Canadians either support our right to marry, that is they accept same sex marriage, or they believe that the state has no business in telling us that we may not do so. I also believe that the majority of Canadians cherish freedom of religion as a fundamental right in our society. Most Canadians would agree that one group in society should not impose its religious beliefs on another group with a different view. We do not believe that the state should refuse to recognize the marriages of any denomination because it disagrees with their religious teachings about marriage.


Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell


Joe Varnell, Rev. Hawkes, Kevin Bourassa (Photo by MCC Toronto, 2001)
Joe Varnell, Rev. Hawkes, and Kevin Bourassa

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell met in 1997, and are both members of the Metropolitan Community Church. Kevin was a banker until May 2002. He now works as an advocate for equal marriage. Joe is an e-commerce consultant. Together they have developed the site www.equalmarriage.ca. They had a Holy Union at the Church in August 1999, and were wedded in a marriage service on January 14, 2001. They have written a book, Just Married, which details their experiences, and they have travelled to Europe, the United States and across Canada speaking for the expansion of human rights. The couple write for commercial and adjudicated academic publications and they often lecture at universities and colleges. To contact Joe and Kevin:

Mail

From Kevin and Joe's affidavit:

Kevin Bourassa, Madame Justice L’Heureux-Dubé and Joe Varnell  (Photo by equalmarriage.ca)
Kevin Bourassa, Madame Justice L’Heureux-Dubé and Joe Varnell

Our federal and provincial governments did not recognize our celebration of love. We are angered by this lack of recognition. We feel that our exclusion from the right to marriage is a devaluation of our relationship by the government. Our relationship is not held as equal to those of heterosexual couples. So long as our right to marriage is denied, our human dignity and respect are compromised.

We do not understand how the government can tell our church that it can't marry us. Nor do we understand how the government can refuse to register our marriage. At the front of the church's sanctuary are the words, 'My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.' We deeply hope that our nation, with its rights and protections, will prove to be a country that stands for all Canadians, and will provide full and equal rights to marriage regardless of sex or sexual orientation.


Elaine Vautour & Anne Vautour

Photo by Kevin Bourassa, 2001Elaine and Anne Vautour met at an MCCT women's retreat. They celebrated their Holy Union in August 2000. Elaine Vautour was consecrated a Deacon of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in 1999, and is currently a student of theology. Anne took Elaine's surname legally to show that they are a family unit. Elaine and Anne were married in a joint wedding with Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell on January 14, 2001.

From Elaine and Anne's affidavit:

We want to be treated equally as citizens of Canada. We want to have the same legal status as other married couples. We want to be able to make medical decisions and financial decisions on one another's behalf without resorting to a Power of Attorney should one of us become incapacitated.

We love one another and are happy to be married. We highly value the love and commitment to our relationship that marriage implies. Our parents were married for over 40 and 50 years respectively, and we value the tradition of marriage as seriously as did our parents.


The Ontario Civil Marriage Challenge

Tom Allworth & Al Pittman

Tom Allworth was born and raised in Cherry Valley, Ontario, and has two daughters from a previous marriage, born in 1973 and 1975. Al Pittman was born and raised in Marystown, Newfoundland. They met in September 1976, and have just celebrated their 25th Anniversary. Both Al and Tom are active members of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, and had a Holy Union ceremony in September, 1996.

From Tom's affidavit:

I have a strong faith in God and without the validation of same sex marriages by the state my faith has been questioned. I firmly believe that God has created me just the way I am. I am asking for Equality NOT Privilege under the law for us to celebrate our relationship with a legal marriage. I am proud to be a Canadian and that I live in a land where only after a short period of years we have made great strides in having an equal society based on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My pride will further enhanced when we too as homosexuals will enjoy the same rights.

From Al's affidavit:

Tom has two beautiful daughters, Stacey and Sarah. These girls have grown up with their Dad and I living as gay men in a committed relationship. Leading a very normal lifestyle. They have lived with our fears, our concerns, and our love for them and for each other. On September 14, 1996 surrounded by our families, friends and before God we made a public commitment to each to love and cherish each other through good and bad times, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer until death do us part.


Alison Kemper & Joyce Barnett

Photo By Kevin BourassaAlison Kemper and Joyce Barnett have been together since 1984. They have had two children within the relationship, Hannah Ruth who was born to Joyce in 1986 and Robbie, who was born to Alison in 1992. Both children have been jointly raised since birth by Alison and Joyce and were jointly adopted by them in 1995. Alison and Joyce are each ordained within the Anglican Church.

From Alison's affidavit:

The reality is that same-sex couples have kids, love them, and want more than anything the best possible lives for our children. Our lives together have been spent overcoming those who would wish us to be apart or invisible. We are committed to ensuring that our children have as secure and rich a life as possible. Marriage is one more step.

Instead of being recognized as an equal family, we are considered to have an 'alternative lifestyle'. We're not very alternative. We're very ordinary. We'd like to be married because it's the ordinary thing to do with the feelings and commitments we share.

Both of us hold provincial licences to solemnize marriages. We are able to offer others a ceremony that we cannot undergo.

From Joyce's affidavit:

Following our adoptions, Alison and I have a defined legal relationship with our children. It seems absurd that we do not have the legal nature of our marital relationship recognized between each other. I am engaged in this struggle to achieve the freedom to marry as part of our continuing effort to keep our kids safe - not just our kids but all kids. The denial of the freedom to marry creates a poisoned environment of exclusion and discrimination. It creates a world of suffering for young people who realize that they are not heterosexual. It makes the world less safe and less welcoming of the children of same-sex parents.

Hannah is very excited about our marriage. We told her that it may be years away, but she is still happy and greatly looking forward to it. I sincerely want to be part of making this province and country a place that is safe for my children to be and love as they will.


Michelle Bradshaw & Rebekah Rooney

NOTE: This couple was included in the Ontario Divisional Court case, but they are no longer involved in the marriage case (i.e., the 2003 case in the Ontario Court of Appeal).

Michelle Bradshaw is a black lesbian, 28 years old, and hearing-impaired, studying Comparative Religions at Carleton University. Rebekah Rooney is a white, 24 year old student with a learning disability, studying Environmental Studies at Carleton University. They met at a multimedia art show when Rebekah heard Michelle singing on stage.

From Michelle's affidavit:

I am not afraid, dismayed or ashamed of my relationship with Rebekah, as some people feel I should be. I am ecstatic, happy, content, calm all in one. But mostly I am proud. I want the world to know! I'm in love with Rebekah Campbell Rooney. Because in the end, same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples to choose if they want to tell, express, yell it to the world and to have the law congratulate/validate/support through legal means all who form that special bond of marriage/family.

From Rebekah's affidavit;

If the government refuses to validate our relationship, why should the citizens of this country? Homophobia is rampant in our society, in large measure because it continues to be sanctioned by government.

Why do I want to marry Michelle? It sounds like a really simple question, but the answer is very complicated. … There are a million reasons why I want to marry her, and frankly, that's how I know that I do. If there were only one reason, I would question myself, but I am certain that it is right for us.


Barbara McDowall & Gail Donnelly

Barbara McDowall was born in Kingston, raised in Quebec and now lives in Toronto. She is an Authentic Self coach and Spiritual counselor, co-coordinates Care and Growth ministries with her Church (MCCT), and has two children, Jessica and Christopher. Gail Donnelly was born in Arnprior and grew up on Ile du Grand Calumet. Her father is of Irish descent and her mother is French Canadian. She works as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher with the Oakville Fire Department.

Barb and Gail are committed to advancing human rights. They are available for speaking engagements. Enquiries: us@authenticlives.com

From Barbara's affidavit:

I recognize my wife, Gail Donnelly, as a gift from God. She is a great mom to my two children, who absolutely adore and respect her. Furthermore, we have a pleasant, respectful relationship with my ex-husband, David. There are many, many couples like Gail and myself who have children from previously heterosexual marriages. What is the message being sent to these children? One minute they are part of a unit that is sanctioned along with an inherent set of rights and privileges; the next they have been relegated to the status of second class citizens.

From Gail's affidavit:

I grew up with strong family values: respect, honesty, equality and faith. I believe in respecting everything and everyone around me. All I want is to live a fulfilled life with honesty and love. I have a right to be here, to live, to explore, to learn, to love, to cherish, and to participate in life fully. I ask myself: why does the fact that I am in love with a woman make me unequal?


Dawn Onishenko & Julie Erbland

Dawn Onishenko was born in Saskatoon, and lived in various communities as her parents worked on native reserves and in Northern Saskatchewan towns. Julie Erbland was born in Adeytown, Newfoundland. She graduated from a theatre program, and met Dawn at Memorial University.

From Dawn's affidavit:

Equal marriage is important to me, even more important for my grandmother and family - people in my life who I love. In our eyes we are married. We would like to know that society takes our relationship as seriously as we do. Julie is my family in the fullest sense of the word. She is the life of my life and the heart of my heart. I am a better person because she is in my life. I am a better daughter, sister, friend and citizen. I live my life more fully because of her. I care more deeply. I want to tell her and the world of this love. I want to manifest this commitment through marriage.

From Julie's affidavit:

Dawn and I live our lives as any other married couple would: we make decisions, buy food, make family planning decisions, pay bills, cry, laugh and make love. Marriage is important to us, spiritually and emotionally. I want to make a commitment to Dawn before God in the same manner that people have been marrying for generations. I want to tell Dawn that I love her in a way that can be understood by everyone.


Hedy Halpern & Colleen Rogers


Hedy Halpern &
Colleen Rogers

Hedy Halpern grew up in Montreal and works as a nurse; Colleen Rogers is from the United States and works as a manager, writing technical documents. Together since 1997, they now live in Windsor with Colleen's two sons, Steven and Andy. They celebrated their love in a ceremony on May 13, 2000.

From Hedy's affidavit:

When Colleen told Andy about our relationship, he put it extremely well, saying "love is love". He does not care that I am a woman. He only recognizes that he is cared for and that I am there for him full-time. Love is a wonderful message for any child to receive. … Colleen and I love each other. We have celebrated our joining together forever. Our marriage should be recognized by the legal system and by the wider Canadian community.

From Colleen's affidavit:

The government has relegated us to the status of 'pretend couple' by not recognizing our marriage exactly as it would for a heterosexual couple. The government has taken away the very thing that makes me an adult human being - the right to think and make decisions for myself. At the age of 49, I find this appalling.


Michael Leshner & Michael Stark

Photo of Michael Stark and Michael Leshner by equalmarriage.ca, 2001Michael Leshner works as a Crown attorney for the Government of Ontario. Originally from Halifax, Michael Stark is the eldest of five children. They are known as "the Michaels", have been together for 20 years, and raised two dogs: Mikey and Schmikey.

From Michael Leshner's affidavit:

It should not be necessary for me to justify my application for a marriage licence and requiring me to do so would be discriminatory, humiliating and upsetting. Being denied a marriage licence suggests that Mike and I do not love each other, and that our hopes, our dreams, our life together do not exist. Mike and I, while supposedly equal citizens of this great country, are deemed non-persons, because we are gay.

From Michael Stark's affidavit:

My brothers and my sister have all been legally married. We have the same parents and upbringing; we all work and pay taxes; and we have all fallen in love and settled down with our partners. Although my relationship is longer than that of any of my siblings, I find myself deposing my first affidavit, and commencing a court proceeding, to seek a marriage licence - simply because I am gay. It is unfair that I have to justify my marriage licence application to anyone, or that I have to convince anyone of my love of Michael. I should not have to ask permission to marry Michael from anyone other than him. I look forward to the day when I can call each of my siblings and invite them to my wedding as they each have done for me.


Carolyn Rowe & Carolyn Moffatt

Carolyn Rowe ("C.J.") was born and raised in Fredericton, and self-identifies as a bisexual white woman. Carolyn Moffatt is a student at Carleton University. Carolyn and CJ met in November 1996, in Fredericton and now live together in Ottawa.

From C.J.'s affidavit:

Our laws need to catch up to today's modern expanded concepts of family, and not place one form over another. Although we do not plan on having a traditional marriage ceremony, we plan on celebrating our love and commitment for each other in a way that is true to ourselves and our hearts.

From Carolyn's affidavit:

Growing up, I never thought I would want to get married. I planned to be a spinster, living near the sea and sewing quilts. I somehow knew that marriage was not in the cards for me. Now that I am in a lesbian relationship, I have sadly learned that I am not legally able to marry. We are still working through the best means to publicly affirm our bond. We will not be buying frilly white dresses or having ridiculous consumerist showers. We should be able to freely choose whether or not to enter into civil marriage, and how we choose to celebrate that union.