We posted a letter from Douglass on this website in 2002, after the Canadian government announced plans to appeal the first court victory for marriage in Ontario. The professor has been an active supporter and contributer to the movement. Congratulations and appreciation to the couple.
February 18, 2004
Dr. Cheri DiNovo
Canada's largest Protestant Church, the United Church of Canada, supported equal marriage during Parliament's marriage hearings last year. The United Church has had many champions of equality. Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo is one of the leaders working to end marriage discrimination within her faith community and beyond. Rev. DiNovo provided an affidavit in support of a successful quash of an appeal of the Ontario marriage decision at the Supreme Court of Canada. We chatted with the Reverend, at the Feb. 14 Toronto City Hall celebration. Although we had much to be grateful for, Rev. DiNovo spoke of more work ahead:
"It's one thing that the general council, the leadership of the church, supports it [marriage for same-sex couples], it another thing that people in the rank and file and in the pews in small towns support it ... I think what general council really has needs to do is put some weight behind that. By setting some money [aside] not just paper that goes into the bottom the bottom drawer of clergy's desks, but to actually send people out to the various conferences and presbyteries across Canada to raise issues in a safe way."
Rev. DiNovo believes equal marriage will test whether faith communities have learned to over-come past mistakes.
"Leadership has to lead. Leadership has to come forward and do what's right and do what God calls them to do. Does that mean that they will lose a third of their membership? Most probably it will. They have to live with that consequence. I draw an analogy between this and say the Church during Nazi Germany. A very small portion of the Church stood by the Jews and against the Nazi government. It's pathetic when you look at it historically. What would we say is Church now? Would we stand with the Jews in a situation like that? Here's our social justice situation right now, right here. Are we going to stand up and do what's right or are we not? And yes it will cost you. Be prepared to pay the cost."
Brendan Fay spoke passionately at Toronto City Hall when he introduced a New York group he cofounded with Jesus Lebron, called the Civil Marriage Trail. His speech inspired someone to begin singing the Canadian national anthem, with many of our American visitors wiping tears from their eyes:
"Let freedom reign ... We are called the Civil Marriage Trail Project in memory of others who have crossed the border for freedom, equality and justice. We're remembering brothers and sisters from another era who crossed the border in an underground railroad trail. We're here in memory of other brothers and sisters who crossed the border during the Vietnam era. We're here like many others who have crossed your border for the beauty and sweet taste of equality and justice. Thank you for that taste. After we crossed your border, by train, by car, and by Greyhound bus, I have to tell you of the beautiful sight of the maple leaf flag. Your maple leaf is, for same-sex couples, what the statue of liberty and the liberty bell has meant for our ancestors. When we see that maple leaf we see equality for all. We see hope for all."
Fittingly, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs was at Toronto City Hall to witness the appreciation of American gay and lesbian couples. The Cabinet Minister talked of what we were celebrating, without ever mentioning the word "marriage":
"Yesterday I had the great privilege of standing beside Secretary Powell at the State Department in the United States, in Washington, and then I come home and hear a group of Americans singing the praises of Canada. As your foreign minister, when I travel around the world, the praise we get from everyone around the world, even those who may disagree with some of our policies, who might even disagree with what we're celebrating here today, recognize that what we represent in this country is tolerance, respect for one another, civility, a way in which people can affirm themselves. This ceremony today is a celebration about that. It's a celebration of life, a celebration of what we try to do as a community and what we try to do as a nation, to make it a place where all fit, all can affirm themselves in the wholeness of their being ... we've heard the Prime Minister say that the legislation will be introduced into Parliament, as soon as that [Supreme Court of Canada] reference enables the law and judges and the political people to consider exactly what we are doing and how we are doing it. The government is committed to doing this because, in my view, it's a commitment that relates to what we're about as a country. A country that respects one another, that's tolerant of one another's diverse lifestyle and says that everybody has a right to freedom, dignity, and in this case, love."
George Olds and Ian Taylor were married at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Feb. 14. They are long-time human rights advocates and have provided advice and support to us since Dec. 2000. The following are comments made by Rev. Fisher during the marriage between George and Ian:
"You two have led the way. You have fought for so many so that we would have this right, as total and complete citizens of this country, that we would have the freedom to marry... I know you have wanted this moment passionately, and you have fought for it. There are no two more deserving men on the face of this earth to be getting married at this moment and time."
Comments made by newlywed Ian Taylor after being introduced to guests at the service by Rev. Fisher:
"... as we grow up we have to learn the concept of tithing, and it's not just a religious belief. We are required to give 10% of what we have back to the community and it doesn't have to be a church. We can tithe to community groups and agencies. We can help in the health care of our brothers and sisters who need this ...When George and I first got involved in the movement of social activism, and working at getting our word in the news media George used to say that every time we make news, we make history. This place has been a place of history."