Marriage advocates honoured as fearless heroes by Pride Toronto







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Advocacy News - Marriage advocates "fearless heroes"

June 24, 2021

Marriage advocates are "fearless heroes"
Pride Toronto honours "acts of heroism" in 1st float

Equal marriage advocates are among a group being honoured by Pride Toronto in Canada's largest parade.

Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa with Douglas Elliott (middle) at Toronto's Osgoode Hall during their marriage case.

Lawyers and couples involved in the landmark Ontario same-sex marriage case have been invited to participate "in the first Pride Toronto float that will be honouring the fearless heroes and acts of heroism that have given meaning to celebrating Pride", says an invitation to the honourees.

Participants include lawyer Douglas Elliott, who represented the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto's marriages of Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell, and Anne & Elaine Vautour.

Lawyers Joanna Radbord (left) and Martha McCarthy on a break during the Ontario marriage case.

The January 14 2001 marriages became the world's first legally recognized marriages between same-sex couples when Ontario's Court of Appeal ordered the province to register their record of marriage. Bourassa and Varnell will join their legal champion on the float.

Lawyers Martha McCarthy and Joanna Radbord (the fearless duo who represented couples seeking civil marriage licences in the Ontario marriage case) have also been offered the honour to be in the Pride Toronto float, along with clients Michael Leshner and Michael Stark.

Marilyn Byers, of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto and PFLAG, at the Ontario marriage hearings.

Marilyn Byers, another Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto member (and PFLAG representative) who provided support through-out the journey towards marriage equality in another hero invited to be honoured by Pride Toronto in the float.

Pride Toronto's "fearless heroes" will be attired in blue T-shirts complimented with "snazzy" capes and other super-hero accessories, including body paint for the truly fearless.

This Sunday, approximately a million people will line the route of the parade that will be led by two couples, Donald Middleton & Clayton Wilson, and Robert Berry & Les Sheare, who are the 2006 Pride Parade Grand Marshals.

"Our Grand Marshals really personify the theme of this year's Pride Week, 'Fearless,' said Co-chair David Anderson, in a news release. "Both couples have been together for 50 years. They've lived their lives openly, proudly and fearlessly, long before same-sex relationships were considered acceptable or respectable by society at large, or seen as legitimate in the eyes of the law."

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