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Advocacy News - Church of pride, not prejudice

June 9, 2005

Church of pride, not prejudice
MCC Toronto is the honored group at Toronto Pride

By Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell

External link to the Metropolitan Community Church of TorontoOur congregation of friends, supporters, and fellow worshipers at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto are this year's honored group in the Toronto pride parade.

"MCC Toronto has achieved much in the areas of human rights and social justice over the last 32 years, most recently with the landmark same-sex marriage court case," Pride Toronto says. "In an age where the increasing trend in World Religions is towards discriminatory fundamentalism, more and more people reject Religion because they see it as an agent of their oppression. It is crucially important that there be growing, vibrant congregations like MCC Toronto."

The church, featuring the incredible MCC Toronto Choir and fabulous musical guests, will conduct a special service before the parade on Sunday June 26, beginning at 11 a.m. on the South Stage (Church & Wood St.). Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes will deliver a sermon titled "A gift to the world!".


Where it began

"MCC Toronto is proud to announce that, beginning in January 2001, we will be issuing marriage licenses for same-sex weddings. Until now, we felt restricted from acting on our beliefs by what we though was a legal impediment regarding same-sex weddings. Being called by God to marry same-sex couples, we recently sought legal advice and as a result we have changed our position on the legality of same-sex marriages. In keeping with the ancient tradition of banns of marriage, we will now be issuing marriage licenses for same-sex weddings. We believe we will be the first to issue these [legal] licences anywhere in the world."
MCC Toronto announcement,
December 3, 2000

The first registered gay marriage: January 14, 2001

"Founded in 1973, MCC Toronto is part of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, headquartered in Los Angeles. The Toronto congregation is a diverse lot, with members who speak more than twenty languages and represent at least thirty ethnic backgrounds. Hundreds of worshippers arrive each Sunday to fill the 11:00 a.m. service. Additional services are held at 9:00 a.m.. to meet the growing demand.

"Like most churches, our nurtures the young, cares for the sick and dying and provides pastoral care within our community. Beyond this, we also have a history of working for equality and human rights in our city, in our province and in our country. In 1995 MCC Toronto acted as an intervenor in a Supreme Court of Canada case, Egan vs. Canada, which concerned same-sex spousal recognition under the Old Age Security Act. The victory in that case led to sexual orientation being read into Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"When Reverend Hawkes announced the church's intention to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, everyone knew that he was prepared to go all the way to Canada's Supreme Court again, if necessary. Reverend Hawkes was the ideal man for the task. Since becoming pastor of MCC Toronto in 1977, he has build the church into the third-largest congregation in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches .... A longtime activist, Hawkes went on a hunger strike in 1981, fasting for twenty-five days in protest over the infamous Toronto bathhouse raids. During the 1990s, he fought for changes to legislation to protect the rights of gays and lesbians. Among his many accolades are the united Nations Toronto Association Global Citizen Award (1995) and the City of Toronto Award of Merit (1994), the city's highest civilian award."

From Just Married: Gay marriage and the expansion of human rights.


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