The courts will do their job and protect our rights when politicians like Martin and Cotler stand by the side-lines, failing in their duties.
are now considering a change in strategy, to proceed with a similar application
in Nova Scotia in the near future, rather than wait for the Reference."
of us have constantly and consistently stood up and said that we are a couple
and we want to have what we deserve as a couple."
Adovcacy News - Halifax Pride - 2004
July 26, 2004
Pride: the next great leap forward
Although Prime Minister Paul Martin and Justice Minister Irwin Cotler have said that same-sex marriage must by allowed under our Charter, the pair are responsible for the ongoing discrimination experienced by gay and lesbian couples who cannot marry in their home province if they live outside of Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, or Yukon.
One lesson learned by the LGBT community is that we must fight for every advance we make towards ending government-sanctioned discrimination. The courts will do their job and protect our rights when politicians like Martin and Cotler stand by the side-lines, failing in their duties.
The Yukon victory is only the latest win in court to inspire other communities to step up to the task of gaining access to gay marriage in their area. Some groups are reconsidering their stance on putting their rights on hold at the convenience of the government's political time-table.
We were in Nova Scotia last week where we have worked with local activists, speaking at universities and marching in parades. This is an area that has an energized and active community of advocates and supporters. We were thrilled to learn that groups and individuals in the province have been inspired by the ongoing court victories for marriage equality. In the absence of leadership from the federal or provincial governments, groups are thinking of obtaining a court order opening marriage to same-sex couples in Nova Scotia rather than waiting for the long-delayed legislation from Parliament (a delay of justice until at least 2005).
"We are now considering a change in strategy, to proceed with a similar application in Nova Scotia in the near future, rather than wait for the Reference," said Sean Foreman, chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, in a July 15 update.
Citing the Yukon decision, Foreman has written to the Nova Scotia Attorney General and to Irwin Cotler (Federal Attorney General), "demanding that the Province of Nova Scotia immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples."
Metropolitan Community Church Safe Harbour
The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto took a lead role in the drive for marriage equality in Ontario. Similarly, Halifax's MCC Safe Harbour has also been at the forefront of relationship recognition in Nova Scotia. Nicky and Sue Perkins (pictured at right), a couple deeply involved with Safe Harbour, were honored by the Halifax Pride Committee last year for their role in advancing relationship recognition for gays and lesbians in Nova Scotia. The pair was one of the first couples to sign-up for and speak about registered domestic partnerships (the couple was married in Ontario last year).
We had a chance to worship with our friends at Safe Harbour MCC this year. We were thrilled to find representatives from Unitarian, United, and Baptist congregations, all of whom had achieved, or were working to achieve, welcoming congregations in the area. The congregation generously presented us with a donation to our Equal Marriage Pride trust account, in support of marriage equality advocacy.
Rev. Young (pictured at right, between Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa) presented a Pride award to Ross Boutilier and Brian Mombourquette for their years of service to the community. The couple has been visible advocates for relationship recognition, with marriage being their ultimate goal (the couple has refrained from seeking marriage elsewhere, wishing instead to be legally married in Nova Scotia).
After accepting the honour from Rev. Young, Brian explained how the couple has sustained years of advocacy on behalf of equality.
"We do it because we love what we've achieved here with this church, with our friends, our family and at work. Both of us have constantly and consistently stood up and said that we are a couple and we want to have what we deserve as a couple. Our colleagues have respected us, and our friends have come to love and care for us as we are, and our family is just so accepting, and our church is where we draw our strength."
MCC Safe Harbour member Sam Wilson was also honoured for his work on behalf of human rights (and in his spare time, his support of a food bank!).
"I came to this church and I found a sense of community," Sam said, "I found a sense of pride."
Thousands more experienced that sense of pride at this year's Pride parade. The event was even bigger than last year, with sunny skies through-out pride weekend. We were thrilled to return to Halifax this year courtesy of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and the Halifax Pride Committee.
Halifax Pride co-chair Jay Thordarson (at right with Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa) has spent 2004 building on the success of last year's parade. Jay exemplified, through his multi-tasking, the determination of people who are working to achieve for Nova Scotians the civil liberties that have been won elsewhere in Canada. Beyond his activities with Halifax Pride, Jay has added tremendous value to the campaign for equal marriage. Through his efforts, public service announcements (PSA) in support of gay marriage have been programmed on national television networks across Canada.
The Rev. Dr. Eldon Hay was honoured as this year's grand marshall for the Halifax Pride parade. We first met Eldon (Pictured at right with Anne) on our 2002 speaking tour of New Brunswick (although we were long aware of his work on behalf of gay rights). He graciously assisted us in our speaking tour arrangements, and has kept in touch with us ever since. We worked together again last year in his former capacity as head of PFLAG Canada (Eldon has since retired from the post) when we teamed up with PFLAG to produce television and radio marriage equality PSAs. So it was with great pleasure that we joined Eldon and his son, Ron, for breakfast the morning of the parade.
Eldon led the parade, in his colourful trademark pride hat and cape, waving to the crowds that included people he helped to make feel more welcome and a part of the community in days gone by when our straight allies were fewer than they are today.
"The Canadian Government must uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ensure equality and justice for all Canadians. This is especially true for children - they should not have to suffer because of ignorance and bigotry. The importance of creating a loving nonjudgmental society that embraces diversity cannot be overstated," Eldon said when he introduced the equal marriage PSAs on our web site.
Thanks to the great groundwork laid in the courts of Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Yukon, many dedicated advocates in Nova Scotia seem poised to remove the last remaining resistance to same-sex marriage. With or without the proactive support of the federal government, marriage equality remains a priority, and Nova Scotians see it within grasp, the next leap forward in equality.
Our thanks to CIBC, Halifax Pride, Jay Thordarson, Ray Taavel, Safe Harbour MCC Halifax, Rev. Young, Nicky and Sue Perkins, Lord Nelson Hotel, Eldon Hay.