City Councillor and candidate for mayor, Davil Miler offers support to Phillip De Blieck and Rev. Troy Perry (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)

"I wish you the best of luck in this city," David Miller, a candidate for mayor told Phillip De Blieck and Rev. Troy Perry. "If there is anything that Toronto can do to help, I know Kyle's been terrific, but if there is anything I can do to help ..."

 

 

 

A city of Toronto employee checks out the paperwork for the De Blieck/Perry marriage. (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
A City of Toronto employee checks out the paperwork for the De Blieck/Perry marriage.

 

 

 

A city employee congratulates the happy couple as they receive their marriage licence (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
City employee congratulates the happy couple as they receive their marriage licence.

 

 

 

Phillip De Blieck and Rev. Perry with their Canadian marriage licence, prior to their wedding (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Phillip De Blieck and Rev. Perry with their Canadian marriage licence.

 

 

 

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Advocacy News

American gay icon sends a message home
"Thank God for Canada!"

July 16, 2003

Phillip De Blieck and Rev. Troy Perry  (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)"Thank God for this country, thank God for this province, thank God for good attorneys and thank God for good judges."

Rev. Troy Perry arrived at Toronto city hall yesterday, praising Canada as he filled out the paperwork for his marriage to long-time partner Phillip De Blieck.

Toronto City Councillors Kyle Rae and David Miller were on hand with a bevy of media to welcome the couple. Rev. Perry is the founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches, a world-wide gay-friendly denomination that is famous in Canada for conducting the first legal same-sex marriages.


Phillip De Blieck shakes hands with Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae (who recently celebrated his own same-sex marriage). Rev. Troy Perry (centre) smiles with delight at a city employee who's office has been invaded by reporters.

"We've always wanted to marry and do what's right," Rev. Perry told reporters at City Hall. "It's just a shame, still, that we have to come to another country to marry. Thank God for Canada and especially Ontario for what it has done on this issue."

Link to the Metropolitan Community Churches World CentreRev. Perry's decision to come to Canada to get married is intended to send a signal to his fellow Americans.

"I'm telling Americans that they have to come up here. Either cross-over in British Columbia or Ontario ... do it now. We have to have couples that are legally married all over our country, to make an impact on our neighbors and people who meet us."

"What difference will it make," a reporter asked?

"It will make a lot of difference for us, once we get back home, legally, in the long run," Rev. Perry replied. "I'vHands clasped as the couple prepares for their  Canadian marriage and another journey towards full equality.  (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)e been involved in gay rights since 1967 in America. I've lived to see things happen, but I've always believed that to make things happen you have to have people come out of the closet. Now that means coming out of the closet, crossing the border, and getting married. That means announcing to family and friends, if they don't come with you, that you're now legally married ... I don't care what my government says to me now: I am legally married."

"I hate it that I have to fly from here and lose my rights and marriage at our border as I go into my own country. Freedom is about everybody being treated equally. That's all we've ever asked for. Nothing more, nothing less. We won't settle for anything other than equality."

The couples' marriage licence, ready for their marriage on July 16 (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)"I never thought this day would come in my lifetime," Rev. Perry said as he tried to hold back his tears.

After obtaining their marriage licence (right), the pair joined Douglas Elliott (lawyer for the MCC Toronto weddings) for a tour of Osgoode Hall and the courtrooms where we won our same-sex marriage victories in Ontario divisional court and in the Court of Appeal for Ontario. It was a symbolic moment as the pair visited the first court in the world to declare the validity of same-sex marriage.

Rev. Perry and Mr. De Blieck then spent a quiet evening having dinner at the home of Toronto friends.

Marriage day

This morning we arrived at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in time for the 10:00 a.m. wedding. There was a sense of history as well-wishers gathered in the same sanctuary that had began the Canadian marriage challenge for many people. It felt that another historic step was being taken - a baton being passed - as another couple prepared to take steps to achieve marriage equality, this time in the United States.

"Troy and Phillip, we feel an immense sense of gratitude that you have chosen to be among us, this day, and to celebrate your relationship with us," Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes said, as he acknowledged the tremendous contribution that MCC churches have made to equality around the world. "We thank you for the inspiration that you have given to us for justice and we pray that you will follow us and continue the struggle [for equal marriage]."

Rev. Troy Perry signs his marriage licence (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Rev. Troy Perry signs his marriage licence

As Rev. Perry recited his vows to Mr. De Blieck, he fought back tears in a ceremony that represented the long-held dreams of many gays and lesbians.

After the legal documents were signed, Rev. Hawkes announced, "I now present to you, Phillip De Blieck and Troy Perry, partners in life, duly married in the eyes of God and in accordance with the laws of our land."

"I want to thank Brent Hawkes, this wonderful, wonderful congregation for fighting this battle for us ... if you told me in my lifetime that I would be in front of an alter of God marrying, I would have called you a liar when I started my journey a little over 35 years ago for gay, lesbian and transgender rights in my country. To be here with all of my Canadian friends: thank God for Canada," Rev Perry said at the conclusion of the marriage ceremony, his voice breaking with emotion amidst applause and cheers.
Phillip De Blieck, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, and Rev. Troy Perry (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Phillip De Blieck, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, and Rev. Troy Perry

"In January of 2001 we married two couples here at our church, under the publication of banns," Rev. Hawkes said in a statement to the media at the beginning of a press conference immediately following the service. "After that marriage, the government of Ontario refused to register the marriages. We proceeded to take the governments of Ontario and Canada to court to ensure that these legal marriages were recognized. The Ontario divisional court, and subsequently the Ontario Court of Appeal, ruled that the marriages were legal and any prohibitions against gay and lesbian marriages were struck down immediately.

"Since that date couples all over the province of Ontario have been getting married by going to city hall and getting a licence for those marriages. So those licenced weddings have joined together with the weddings by banns. Now in the province of British Columbia, the courts there have allowed gay and lesbian couples to get licences and get married. We look forward to the day, soon, when the government of Canada will ensure that all across this country gay and lesbian couples are treated equally in every province and are able to marry.

"Since the ruling of the courts, a number of couples have come to this country from the United States to get married. It's unfortunate that gays and lesbians from the land of the free have to [come to Canada] in order to get married. We look forward to the day when the United States of America will also recognize our relationships. We call upon the politicians and the courts there to follow the lead of Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The wedding kiss (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
The wedding kiss

The wedding party hugs in celebration (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
The two grooms hug their witnesses, George Olds and Ian Taylor, in celebration

Witness George Olds, De Blieck, Hawkes, Perry, and witness Ian Taylor (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Witness George Olds, Phillip De Blieck, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, Rev. Troy Perry, and witness Ian Taylor

"Troy and Phillip will now go back to the United States, to continue to lead our denomination, to call for justice around the world, to offer a safe place for our people to worship, and to continue to push for the rights for gays and lesbians, everywhere, to marry."

Phillip De Blieck and his husband Rev, Troy Perry (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)"I can't tell you how thrilled that Phillip and I are today [now] that we are legally married," Rev. Perry told the press. "We have to put our nation on notice that we are coming home. When we get home, we will still be legally married. We will start the struggle and the fight to make sure that within five years, at least, couples from the U.S. will be able to marry in the U.S.A.

"I am asking that American couples come to this country and marry. I hope that I can get them from all fifty states up here ... I'm asking that they register on our web site, so that we know who they are and so that as the Freedom to Marry group in the U.S. and as we band together to make a difference that we have lots and lots of couples in all kinds of situations to work with."

A reporter asked Rev. Perry explain what compassion means to him.

"Compassion to me means I leave other people alone to do legally what they want to do. When I talk about compassion I'm talking about reaching out to people who are oppressed in some way, who our government says they can't live fully as citizens."
The wedding party with the marriage licence (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
The wedding party with the marriage licence.

Are they expecting a fight for recognition in the U.S.A.?

"When we cross the border, it is so sad that we have to go back to our own culture and fight to say to them that we are married," Rev. Perry replied. "We won't back away from that. We are married. I don't care what our government says, we are married and by treaty we say that people who are married here don't have to get remarried again when we get home. If the laws changed tomorrow in the U.S., we are married, and we will not be remarrying again in our culture. We married in Toronto, Canada, on this day."

What about divorce, another reporter asked, perhaps forgetting that she was talking to newlyweds?

"Phillip and I aren't going to get divorced," Rev. Perry said. You won't see us back up here. We won't be divorced. We're old fashioned. After 18 years, we know it's until death do us part."

Any disappointments with the American government?

"The only thing that disappoints me about this day is that this marriage couldn't take place in our home. Thank God that we have a church here. For me it is incredible that 35 years later I was able to marry in a church in our denomination in Toronto, Canada where our marriage will receive the blessings of this congregation and the blessings of this government."

A licenced kiss (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
A licenced kiss

A reporter mentioned that David Mainse, a religious conservative, was stepping down from an extremist Christian television program and had promised to fight equal marriage.

"We don't need a new Anita Bryant in any culture or country," Rev. Perry said. "Your courts have spoken and they're now preparing laws so that this is permanently part of the culture here in Canada."

"I think that we can see today that another benefit of the court decision is having David Mainse step down from his public platform," Rev. Hawkes added. "That's freed up the television waves from having to deal with this kind of hatred, this kind of attack on the gay and lesbian community."

But Mr. Mainse claims he is not a bigot full of hate. A CBC reporter read a statement from a newspaper.

"The evangelist also argued that his position is in no way homophobic," The Globe and Mail reported today, "He said he is simply trying to preserve a definition that has been used from the beginning of time by human beings in all parts of the world in every major religion."

The completed marriage licence (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
The completed marriage licence.

"I have heard the majority say this about minorities through-out history," Rev. Perry said. "In my own culture the Ku Klux Klan said we don't really hate black folks we just don't want them to go to school with our children. Black birds and blue birds don't rest in the same nest. I've heard all these arguments before. Hate, whatever you dress it up as, is still hate.

"My emotional reaction is sadness, not anger. Those days are gone. I've been called some pretty bad names, people have tried to murder me, in the early days of gay rights. Twenty-one of our churches were burned down to the ground. I've had ministers murdered, members murdered, but I just feel sad for people who really don't get it. We still have Aryan nation groups in America, we're still fighting the battle for civil rights, but for most Americans, that battle is over. It's just how we implement the laws to make sure everybody is treated equally, and that's all Phillip and I are asking for: just to be treated equally."


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