Advocacy News - World's 1st married gay couple walk for life
July 12, 2021
1st married gay couple walk for life
Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, the Canadian couple behind the world’s first legal gay marriage (January 14, 2001), have taken to heart a message they heard when they began making international appearances on behalf of Equal Marriage For Same-Sex Couples.
“In 2002, we kicked off a speaking tour in Turin, Italy, where advocates, lawyers, and jurists from around the world had gathered for a conference hosted by the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association,” explained Bourassa. “Most experts at the conference agreed that we were going to win our landmark Ontario same-sex marriage case. Moving beyond the expected victory, people asked what the Canadian LGBT community was going to do after this pinnacle victory? Do LGBT Canadians just go home to hang up our marriage certificates, if we choose to access this right, and live happily ever after?”
“Mr. Justice Edwin Cameron, from the High Court of South Africa urged the LGBT community to leverage existing advocacy skills to assist others in our communities,” Varnell continued. “There are so many people who need us to raise our voices in support of them, just as they have done for us, in and outside our community. Imagine if the LGBT community applied its years of experience with advocacy, fundraising, politics, law, networking ... all those skills directed towards helping others.”
Bourassa and Varnell have attempted to embrace and echoe Justice Cameron's message from Turin. Since 2005, when marriage equality was written into federal law across Canada, the couple has supported marriage advocates outside the country and worked to promote other causes within their home and native land.
Bourassa and Varnell will be walking with a team from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
“CIBC was very supportive of us during our campaign for equal marriage,” says Bourassa, "so we’re thrilled to be walking with employees who believe in giving back to the community.”
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“We are grateful to be living in a country like Canada where our right to marriage equality has been honoured,” said Varnell. “We hope people will join us in celebrating the amazing progress that has been made on this issue, by supporting others who still need help.”