EGALE British Columbia Marriage Affidavits

 

No. L002698

Vancouver Registry

 

 

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

 

 

B E T W E E N:

 

                                                    EGALE CANADA INC.,

                                 DAVID SHORTT AND SHANE McCLOSKEY,

                                   MELINDA ROY AND TANYA CHAMBERS,

                              LLOYD THORNHILL AND ROBERT PEACOCK,

                                     ROBIN ROBERTS AND DIANA DENNY,

                              WENDY YOUNG AND MARY THERESA HEALY

 

Petitioners

 

                                                                   - and -

 

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA,

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, and

THE DIRECTOR OF VITAL STATISTICS FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA

                                                                       

Respondents

 

AFFIDAVIT

 

 

I, DAVID SHORTT, student, of the City of Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

1.                  1.                  I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

2.                  2.                  I am twenty six years old and am a full-time student at CDI College and Emily Carr Institute, studying computer programming and digital arts. I also design web sites on a contract basis.

 


3.                  3.                  My parents divorced when I was three years old. Growing up in a single parent family helped to prepare me for the type of discrimination that I now face as a gay adult. Although my sister and I had regular contact with our father, and he played a large role in our lives, it was our mother who was ultimately responsible for us. With a single income, our mother was able to put herself through university and support two children. It was not easy for her, given that the system appeared to be designed with only one type of family in mind. I learned early on that social and legal institutions often do not reflect the reality of many peoples’ lives.

 

4.                  4.                  My family was neither religious nor homophobic. My parents and grandparents were open-minded people who encouraged me to tolerate and accept difference in others. Unfortunately, the outside world was not as kind. Children who came from families less tolerant than mine often expressed their fear and ignorance in the playground. The word ‘fag’ was a common playground insult. Even though the homophobia I experienced during my school years was not specifically directed at me, I couldn't help but internalize some of those feelings. As a result, I was nineteen before I realized that being gay was a natural, healthy and quintessentially human experience.

 

5.                  5.                  I came out to my family at age nineteen. It was also at that time I met my first boyfriend. Having to adjust to my new identity made it one of the more difficult years of my life. Even though I was the same person I was before I came out, many people treated me differently. I needed a lot of reassurance from my family, which has always been very supportive, and from my friends that my new relationship was a good thing, even as they were still adjusting to the surprise of me being gay. After a few months, my boyfriend came to live with me in Nanaimo, where I was going to school. However, it was our experience that Nanaimo was not a very gay-friendly town and we felt both marginalized and invisible. In the end, the pressures were too great and we decided to end our relationship. I believe that the lack of social supports for same-sex couples, and the stigmatization and pressures for same-sex couples to remain invisible, were significant factors that contributed to the end of the relationship.

 

6.                  6.                  It was at that point that I made some major transitions in my life. In May, 1996, I went to visit my father, who lived in Kingston, Ontario. I planned to spend the summer working in Kingston and then move to Montreal to attend the University of Concordia. However, what began as a visit ended up changing my life.

 

7.                  7.                  I met Shane in July 1996, when a friend introduced us at a movie theatre. There was a shared attraction from the minute we met. Our friend arranged it so that we would meet again at a wine and cheese party. This was the first time I had an opportunity to really talk to Shane. He was honest, independent, stable, compassionate, intelligent and confident. As our relationship developed, I discovered that, unlike my previous boyfriend, he was not afraid show me how much he cared about me and how much he appreciated who I was. I was struck by how similar our core values were.

 

8.                  8.                  I cancelled my plans to attend Concordia University in Montreal and chose to attend Queen’s University instead. It had never before occurred to me that I would make that type of sacrifice for anyone, but then again Shane was not just anyone. We moved in together in January 1997.

 

9.                  9.                  What I learned in the years we lived in Kingston and attended Queen’s was that a relationship cannot exist in a vacuum. Shane and I survived as a couple largely because we are so compatible, but also because we had a lot of support from the people around us. Shane’s colleagues and friends were extremely supportive. My father and his wife and one of my professors at Queen’s were also supportive. We attended social events regularly as a couple. At times I forgot that being a gay couple was even an issue.

 

10.             10.             When Shane and I graduated, we took a three month cycling trip in Mexico and then moved to Vancouver. We live together as a couple and share a joint bank account. We attend my family events together. Every year we celebrate our anniversary by taking a trip somewhere or at least spending the day together and going out to dinner.

 

11.             11.             I am fortunate to have a very supportive family. My mom wants us to have children, as she believes we would make good parents. My two sisters are adopted, and Shane and I have talked about this.  We are interested in raising children, but we recognize that it is a big responsibility and would want to wait until we are ready and more financially secure. If we do pursue this course, I strongly believe that the legitimacy afforded by state-sanctioned marriage could only benefit our children.

 

12.             12.             Unfortunately, Shane’s family is not as supportive as my own. They have made it clear that we are not welcome to stay with them as a couple. When Shane’s sister was married, I was not invited or permitted to attend the wedding. To the best of my knowledge, the only reason I am excluded from family events is because Shane and I are of the same sex. It was painful for me to feel that at a time when Shane’s family was gathering to celebrate his sister’s relationship, our own relationship was marginalized. However, my primary concern was  for Shane, because I know how important his family is to him, and how much it hurts him to see his family reject our relationship.

 

13.             13.             Shane and I  have now been together for over four years. We love each other, and we see marriage as the obvious next step.  Unfortunately, the current laws prohibit us from getting married. I have spent countless hours trying to understand why I am unable to legally legitimize my relationship in front of friends and family. Sometimes it makes me angry, but mostly it makes me sad. Our relationship is not second-rate, but that is how we are made to feel as long as marriage is denied to us.

 

14.             14.             Shane and I want to get married because we love each other, and we see marriage as an opportunity to celebrate and legitimize our relationship. We have been loving, loyal and committed since the day we met.  For Shane and I, marriage will represent a recognition of the value of our relationship and the freedom to fulfill our dreams.

 

15.             15.             We also see marriage as an important opportunity to be able to share our commitment with those who love and care for us. Marriage is about more than recognition by the two people involved - it also entails recognition by families, friends and the broader community.  It is important to us to be able to affirm our relationship with others in our lives, in a way that has legal significance.

 

16.             16.             For all these reasons, Shane and I applied for a marriage license last October but were denied the license on the basis that we are both men. A copy of the letter rejecting our application is attached as Exhibit A.

 

17.             17.             I am aware of the recent decision in Vermont to create a separate system of civil unions, and I am not interested in any such model.  Shane and I do not want to enter into a “domestic partnership”, “civil union” or any other euphemism.  We want to marry.

 

18.             18.             I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Vancouver, in the Province        )

of British Columbia, this 15th day of           )                                                                   

December, 2000                                           )            DAVID SHORTT

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

                                                                    AFFIDAVIT

 

I, SHANE McCLOSKEY, market researcher, of the City of Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

19.             19.             I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

20.             20.             I am twenty seven years old and work as a Market Researcher.

 


21.             21.             I grew up the second of five children in the small town of Manotick, Ontario. I do not recall as a child ever being aware that there was any choice as to the course my life was to take: I simply understood that I was expected to meet a nice girl, marry her, and raise a family. However, I realized early in life that I was gay and that gay people did not get married, so I assumed this meant that I would live a life of solitude. My teenage years were very difficult as all my friends and family played out the dating game and I did not. I vividly recall the hardship I endured, honestly believing that I was going to go through life alone and would never be able to share my innermost thoughts with anyone.

 

22.             22.             By the time high school ended, I had worked very hard to earn the grades to go away to school, although no one in my family had ever done this before. It was then I began to realize the diversity of Canadian society. I had attended Catholic schools all my life and always had friends that appeared to be just like me, except they were heterosexual. Now, for the first time, I was surrounded by a wider array of people, including other gay men. I remember feeling a sense of belonging I had never felt before. By graduation from university, I had become much more comfortable with myself in general and as a gay man in particular.

 

23.             23.             In the summer of 1996, following my graduation, I attended my brother's wedding. It was a very difficult experience for me. While everyone else was celebrating, I was dejected. I remember feeling very alone, believing that none of this could ever happen to me. These feelings of isolation were exacerbated by the constant reminder from friends and family that, as I was the second oldest, it was "your turn next!". Then, I met David...

 

24.             24.             It was later that summer, after I had returned to Kingston to begin my Master's degree, that I fell in love for the first time. I went to a movie with a colleague of mine. She and David had met a few weeks earlier at a volunteer distress line and she immediately thought that we might "hit it off". She seized the opportunity, and when the movie had ended she bolted from her seat to intercept David in the lobby. Of course, I had no choice but to casually follow and get introduced to David. Although we only spoke briefly and had made no plans to meet again, I ran home to exclaim to my roommate, "Joe, I’ve met the man I am going to marry!" Over the next few weeks I made a point of attending gatherings with our mutual friend where I knew Dave would be, and I later discover that David had done the same thing.

 

25.             25.             On July 11, 1996 we shared our first kiss and have been committed ever since.  Probably the biggest shock was to discover that I had fallen in love. I had never considered this to be possible before. Until then, I had continued to assume that I would lead a life of solitude.

 

26.             26.             Now, I had someone to share my dreams with, someone with whom I could share my life. The next few years I led the kind of life I thought was inaccessible to me as a gay man. It was the story book romance that I had ruled out as an option a long time ago. We lived out our dreams together as any couple would. We graduated from school together, biked through Mexico together, and settled in Vancouver to start our lives together. Dave and I have talked about having children, and I have an 8 year old goddaughter. 

 

27.             27.             Dave and I  celebrate our anniversary on July 11th  each year to mark the day that we first got to know each other and shared our first kiss. To mark the occasion we either take a trip somewhere or at least spend the day together and go out for a special dinner. For Valentine's Day each year, I get a picture of the two of us together from the previous year, enlarge it in black and white, frame it and give it to Dave. We have a "wall of love" in our home where we hang these. So far there are four.

 

28.             28.             Dave and I spend most holidays together, usually with his family. Thanksgiving is spent either with Dave's mom and grandparents (if we're in B.C.) or with his Dad and his new wife and Dave's uncles (if we're in Ontario). Christmases are a little less predictable and we have only had the opportunity to spend two of them together. When we lived in Ontario I would commute between my family's house in Ottawa in the morning and Dave's dad's house in Kingston in the evening.

 


29.             29.             However, Dave is not welcome at my family's house and has never even been invited.  My family is quite clear in the exclusion of Dave from "family" events. There is not even to be any discussion of him in front of my father and older brother. My mother set this as a condition after I first came out in order to preserve some semblance of family unity. As long as there was no talk of my (gay) life, we could create a facade of togetherness and my presence would be permitted by my father and older brother. The entire family still abides by this in large gatherings, although in smaller groups with my younger siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, god-daughter, grandmother, people will ask about Dave.

 

30.             30.             When I go home to visit, usually at or around Christmas, it is a very ambivalent time for me. I am very excited to see my family, but am very saddened that Dave can not share in this aspect of my life. This sadness turns to anger when I see how my siblings' opposite-sex partners are treated as instant family while my same-sex partner is not even spoken of in group settings. This exclusion fuels a feeling of separation between myself and  my family. I am particularly hurt that my nieces are not able get to know their Uncle Dave. Dave would have so much love to give them. Instead, he, and I in turn, are forced from their lives.

 

31.             31.             Consequently, my relationship with the family is strained (to say the least) when I cannot speak of Dave with them. I feel that I am not even a real person when I visit and every year I grow more and more silent. I do not know why they would even want me to visit when a simple picture of me will suffice for this purpose. I hope that one day my family will realize that by not including Dave in their lives, they are also excluding me. Whenever I have spoken to family members about this, there is a general feeling that yes, this is unfair, but that's the way their world operates and I am the one that must change to better fit their idea of family. There are so many cues around them that support their notion that same-sex partners are not really family. One of the most important of these is the law barring same-sex partners to marry, which makes it easier for my family to feel that their homophobia is legitimate.

 

32.             32.             One day, I hope to be able to bring David with me to Ottawa but I am not confident it will happen any time soon. My father refuses to speak to me about my life for fear I that I will mention Dave or make reference to anything “gay”. My older brother has not spoken to me since I came out five years ago, even when we are in the same room. I believe that the exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage facilitates them taking such extreme positions. Just as the law ignores the legitimacy of our relationship, so too can my family.

 

33.             33.             I could not quite grasp the concept that my siblings could marry their partners, yet I could not.  My sister married shortly after she had her first child. Dave was not invited to the wedding, since he was not considered part of the family. My mother called to make sure I understood that Dave was not welcome, although I was still expected to be present. My sister phoned me several times in Kingston and offered her condolences that Dave could not come, yet she was unable to stand up to the family and insist he be there. Rather than push the issue, I deferred to her judgment as it was her wedding.

 

34.             34.             When I returned home for the wedding, the double standards were unmistakable. My sister's wedding was identical in nature to my brother's a few years earlier. All the attention, praise, and best wishes lavished on them still remained prohibited to me. The feelings of sadness and self-pity I had experienced at my brother's wedding were replaced by anger and bewilderment at my sister's. I should have been next in line; I should have been able to marry the man I love, as is my dearest wish.  Instead, I had to take a back seat and see my relationship marginalized, while my heterosexual sister and her partner celebrated their mutual love, respect and commitment with our family and friends. I was awestruck by the fact that people seemed unaware of the exclusionary ways in which my relationship with David was treated compared to my siblings' relationships with their partners. I was expected to celebrate my sister’s entry into a legal institution that I am prohibited from participating in. Meanwhile, only the bravest of relatives would whisper "How's David?" to me. So long as marriage remains defined as exclusively heterosexual, this two tiered system will remain and my relationship with David will continue to be viewed as second rate in the eyes of most people.

 


35.             35.             While Dave and I claim each other as spouses whenever we can and plan for a future together as a couple, we are prohibited from taking the obvious next step in our relationship, marriage. For me, marriage is a public declaration of our love and commitment for each other. My love, commitment and respect for David is no less than my brother's for his wife or my sister's for her husband. In my experience, same-sex relationships are treated as less worthy than opposite-sex relationships in large part because of the exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage. People take their cues from this and if society only recognizes opposite-sex marriage, then this type of relationship will always be seen as a higher form of love. Opposite-sex marriage is something public and celebrated, in contrast, same-sex  relationships are often treated as something shameful to keep hidden. Legal marriage would challenge these preconceptions and prejudices and affirm the legitimacy of same-sex relationships. 

 

36.             36.             Within my own family, opposite-sex marriage is something public to be celebrated; by contrast, my own same-sex relationship is treated as something shameful to be kept hidden.  I am pressured not to talk about my relationship. There is concern about what others might think. I am made to feel as if I have somehow “failed” my family because my relationship is same-sex rather than opposite-sex. Marriage is about sharing and celebrating your relationship with others in your life, but I feel there is a whole side of my life that I am required to keep secret from my family. I can not describe how hurtful this is, because my relationship with Dave is the greatest joy in my life, and something I want to celebrate and affirm, yet it’s treated as if it’s something shameful, disgusting or wrong. The pressure to not talk about the relationship means I can not even discuss little, day-to-day events, like seeing a movie with Dave, visiting his family, going on a bike ride together – all the little things that add up to building a life together.

 

37.             37.             No one is an island, and over the years it is important to be able to talk about your relationship, both the good times and the bad, with others in your life. Marriage provides a framework which underscores for friends and family the value and priority attached to the relationship. For many, including my family, a relationship is not seen as “real” or “serious” unless you are married. Being a gay couple holds no value for a great number of my relatives. They do not see it as meaningful, long-term or committed. This has a great deal to do with the fact that they tend to equate my relationship with David to the casual dating phase of heterosexual romances. Getting married solidifies a relationship in their eyes. Since marriage is  not an option for David and me, our relationship will never be equal to those of my brother and his wife or my sister and her husband.

 

38.             38.             I believe that legal marriage would affirm my relationship, and provide added legitimacy in the eyes of others in general and in the eyes of my family in particular. Nevertheless, I am not naive.  I know that legal marriage would not change attitudes overnight, and I do not expect that my relatives would suddenly accept that I am gay and in a relationship with Dave. However, I do think it would give them cause to reflect, and equal marriage would definitely foster a more positive and supportive environment for countless others. As it is, the law denies my personal aspiration to celebrate my relationship with the man I love, while reinforcing and lending state sanction to the views of those who see my relationship as shameful and less worthy.

 

39.             39.             I believe the law sends powerful messages about what is and is not acceptable. Many see same-sex relationships as merely physical, and do not realize that same-sex couples experience the same range of romantic, spiritual and emotional feelings as any heterosexual married couple. Equal marriage would challenge the notion that our relationships are less worthy  than opposite-sex relationships. Conversely, the message inevitably sent by denying same-sex couples the ability to marry is that there must be something wrong with our relationships and that they do not have the same value, legitimacy and social worth as opposite-sex relationships.

 

40.             40.             Having a strictly heterosexual definition of marriage limits the options of gay couples. While I respect gays and lesbians who do not wish to marry, for me marriage is important. Denying us the right to marry prevents us from being able to fully express and celebrate our love.  We will always be seen as second rate and same-sex relationships will continue to be played down and trivialized by those who are intolerant. In effect this just gives them an excuse to continue to discriminate, an excuse that is  supported by the law.

 

41.             41.             Similarly if there were to be a "separate but equal" category for gay marriages the same attitudes would persist. The whole "separate but equal" thing is eerily familiar to the segregation of races that occurred in the Southern States and we'd just end up chanting "integration not segregation" until the law viewed equal as equal.It is for these reasons that I challenge the marriage restrictions on same-sex couples and  would never accept a "separate but equal" approach to solving this predicament. If marriage is available only to heterosexual, my relationship with David will always be viewed as inferior. Only by including same-sex couples within the definition of marriage will true equality be realized.

 

42.             42.             Who doesn’t dream, when they are young, about meeting the right person, falling in love and getting married? Once I realized I was gay, I though that dream would be forever denied to me. I never dreamed I could marry a man, because all my life marriage was reserved for heterosexuals. In fact, the legal denial of equal marriage reinforced the beliefs that had been ingrained in me that being gay was something wrong and shameful. I believe I would have come to terms with my homosexuality sooner if marriage were a legal possibility. Gays and lesbians deserve the right to share in that dream.

 

43.             43.             I never thought I would  fall in love; I never thought that I would meet someone that I would  want to spend the rest of my life with; I never thought that marriage was possible. But it is. I feel it is time that the law recognizes this too.

 

44.             44.             I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Vancouver, in the Province        )

of British Columbia, this 15th day of            )                                                       

December, 2000                                           ) SHANE McCLOSKEY

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

                                                              AFFIDAVIT

 

 

I, MELINDA RENE ROY, operations manager, of the City of Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

45.             45.             I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

46.             46.             I am thirty one years old and was born on April 2, 1969 in Oliver, British Columbia. For the past fifteen years, I have primarily worked in the movie theatre business.  I have worked for Famous Players for four years and am currently an operations manager at Silvercity Riverport in Richmond, British Columbia.

 


 

47.             47.             I am an only child. Throughout my childhood, my parents and I moved almost continuously, never living in one house for more than two years, due to the fact that my father was a miner who worked specific contracts. As a result, I grew up in small towns all over the province, including Keremeos, Oliver, Osoyoos, Kimberley and Cranbrook.  My family even spent a year and a half in Ireland and several months in the Yukon.  Because we moved so frequently, my world tended to consist mostly of my parents and the odd scattering of friends and family that occasionally moved in the same direction we did.

 

48.             48.             Homosexuality was a concept that I never encountered until high school, where my peers labeled me before I had any clue what they were talking about.  After graduation I began to understand myself – my thoughts, feelings, etc – a little better, but the derogatory way in which I had been introduced to the terminology and concepts coloured my perceptions of myself.  My self esteem has taken years to recover.  At one point I was even engaged to be married to a man because I believed that it would fix what was wrong in my head.  Luckily the engagement only lasted a few months.  I could have ruined my life and the life of an innocent person.

 

49.             49.             After the breakup with my fiancé, in the summer of 1991, I moved back to Cranbrook, near to where my parents live.  I found a wonderful support system in the form of a man who had previously been a friend of mine in high school. He confided to me that he was gay and, through our ongoing conversations, he helped me to become more comfortable with myself.

 

50.             50.             Once back in Cranbrook, I started working at the local movie theatre, a job I previously held while in high school.  That is where, in the autumn of 1992, I met my partner, Tanya Chambers.  At the time, Tanya was a regular customer who would come with friends from Marysville, a small town about 20 minutes from Cranbrook, to watch films at least once a week.  We became fast, close friends even though we lived in different towns and only saw each other once or twice a week.  At that point, I was struggling with the coming out process and found to my great relief that Tanya was not the least bit upset with the fact that I was a lesbian.

 

51.             51.             In May of 1995, Tanya came out to me and admitted that she was in love with me, a feeling that I had been experiencing towards her for some time but had not expressed because I thought she was straight.  We have been together ever since. In October 1995 we moved in together.

 

52.             52.             Tanya and I have occasional disagreements, as any couple does, but our  relationship is based on mutual respect and trust. Clear communication has always resolved any issue between us before it could become serious.  Over the past five and a half years, we have grown closer and grown up. The initial giddiness of new love has deepened into much more.  We are planning a future that includes children, a house and a family car.   Tanya would like to become a teacher and I am interested in getting certification from the Canadian Payroll Association in order to advance my current position with Famous Players.  Eventually we dream of moving back to a smaller community and owning a hobby farm where we can raise our children with the same respect and appreciation for life and the outdoors that we have.

 

53.             53.             Tanya and I are very committed to one another and plan to have a commitment ceremony.  We have already exchanged rings. Tanya gave me her father’s wedding ring.

 

54.             54.             On October 11, 2000, Tanya and I applied for a marriage licence, but our application was refused because we are both women. A copy of the letter denying us a licence is attached hereto as Exhibit “A”.

 


 

55.             55.             Tanya and I have been luckier than some in that we have encountered relatively few obstacles.  However, I believe that this may be because we instinctively avoid situations in which our relationship could become an issue.  When we have needed to declare our relationship, the general discomfort and less than enthusiastic reactions of some people around us has been obvious.  Often people do not know how we fit into the scheme of things or how to handle requests that would be simple were we a heterosexual couple.  One everyday  example occurred when Tanya’s father passed away. We needed to fly back to the Kootenays for the funeral.  Airlines offer a discount to customers and their spouses in this situation, so Tanya asked the reservation desk if I was eligible. After a fairly lengthy conversation, the airline representative conceded, rather uncomfortably, that I could be treated as Tanya’s spouse. However, when we picked up our tickets,  I was listed as Mr. Melinda Roy Chambers.

 

56.             56.             Tanya never told her father that she was lesbian or about our relationship.  Partly, she was deterred by the fact that he sometimes used derogatory words like “fag”, and she feared risking rejection.  I attended the funeral service with Tanya, but could not sit with her because she was not “out” about our relationship to her father’s side of the family at the time.  I wanted to be with her, supporting her in her time of need, but I had to sit in another part of the church.  For me, this just served to illustrate that the right to marry would help legitimize gay and lesbian relationships and, far from hurting family values, would actually help bring families closer together.

 

57.             57.             My father has reacted favorably to my relationship with Tanya.  He loves Tanya because she has a goofy nature just like he does.  My mother was initially somewhat reserved.  I think she saw us more as friends or roommates and never really thought too much about the fact that we were much more than that.  She was not hostile, but she thought it was more like a “phase”, and failed to appreciate the depth of our commitment. About a year and a half ago, we invited her to spend a week with us and she got the chance to see how we interact with one another on a daily basis in our own home.  Also, while she was visiting, we discussed our plans for a commitment ceremony and children.  Hearing of our plans to publicly affirm our relationship, my mother came to realize how much we love each other. Now both my parents send their love to Tanya when we are on the phone and send her birthday greetings.  I feel as if they completely accept our relationship. However, I feel that marriage would truly signal to our families the commitment that we feel for each other.

 

58.             58.             Tanya’s immediate family have welcomed me with open arms from the start.  The running joke is that they love me more, and if Tanya ever told them that she was leaving me, they would ask her what she’d done.  They are disgusted by the fact that we cannot get married and support us completely in this effort. Similarly, my work colleagues are aware of our relationship, and many of them take for granted that we should be able to get married. In fact, some of them assumed that we could already get married, and were shocked to learn that this was not the case.

 

59.             59.             I want to marry Tanya because I love her with all my heart.  We want to have children and, to us, being married is very important. We want our children to grow up knowing that their parents are in a committed, loving relationship that is no different from other spousal relationships. Being prevented from marrying makes Tanya and I feel inferior.  I don’t believe that people will truly take gay and lesbian  relationships seriously until we are allowed to get married.

 


60.             60.             I believe that my relationship should be afforded the same respect as those of heterosexuals. While the government could decide to give our unions another name, I do not believe that this would be true equality.  I do not believe that same-sex spousal relationships will ever be taken seriously, or be treated with respect by society, if they are given a separate status. We seek equality.  We deserve no less.

 

61.             61.             I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Vancouver, in the Province        )

of British Columbia, this 15th day of           )                                                       

December, 2000                                           )           MELINDA RENE ROY

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

 

                                                              AFFIDAVIT

 

I, TANYA LOUISE CHAMBERS, customer service representative, of the City of Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:                                                                     

 

62.             62.             I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

63.             63.             I live in Vancouver with my life partner, Melinda Roy, and work as a cashier and customer service representative at Shoppers Drug Mart.

 


64.             64.             I was born on May 29, 1973 in Kimberley, British Columbia and grew up there.  I was surrounded by my father’s side of the family for most of my childhood, with my grandparents, many aunts, uncles and cousins all living in the same town.  I had a fairly normal childhood.  My father was a miner and my mother alternated between being a stay at home mom and a cashier at the local convenience store. My parents separated in 1993 and divorced in 1996. They have both remarried.  I have a brother who is two years younger than me. My brother and I have always been close. 

 

65.             65.             I had questioned whether I was gay for many years, having had many crushes on girls in school, but I knew for sure when I met Melinda.  We met in the autumn of 1992 at the theatre that she was working at in Cranbrook.  I was a regular moviegoer and we became close friends very quickly.  I had very strong feelings for her almost immediately but continued to date members of the opposite sex for a couple of years to hide my true feelings.  After knowing Melinda for a couple of years I could no longer keep my feelings from her.  I told her I loved her on May 20, 1995 and we have been together ever since. We moved to Vancouver together in August of 1996.

 

66.             66.             The past five and a half years have been wonderful, with all the ups and downs of any relationship.  We have grown stronger and closer with each passing year.  We are more than just spouses or partners.  She is my best friend.  Over the years we have learned that communication and honesty are the keys to keeping our relationship happy and healthy. 

 


67.             67.             Melinda and I  have exchanged rings -  Melinda wears my father’s wedding ring - and have pledged our love for each other. We have also been making  plans to have a commitment ceremony. Together, we have bought and read books on weddings. We have had detailed discussions about  the kind of ceremony that we would like.  We will write our own wedding vows. We feel that we are already married in our hearts, and a commitment ceremony will help to confirm publicly the way we feel about each other.  As long as legal marriage is denied to us, though, we will always feel that there is something missing, that the government and Canadian society do not value our relationship equally with opposite-sex relationships.  I know that there are many who would see a commitment ceremony that is not recognized in law as not a “real” marriage.

 

68.             68.             We organize our lives as a couple and plan together for the future. We share our finances and  the housework. In addition to the traditional family holidays we also celebrate our anniversary each year on May 20th, the date I first told Melinda that I love her. Eventually, we would like to move to a smaller centre where we can buy a home and raise a family.

 

69.             69.             As our relationship has grown, our focus has shifted from just being a couple to being a part of a larger family.  We have a three year old godson (we have been named legal guardians in his mother’s will in the event of her death or incapacitation) who we love very much and see on a regular basis.  Following my brother’s recent marriage, we became aunts to his 10 and 9 year old stepsons and his 1 year old son.  Having all of these beautiful children in our lives has been a blessing and we intend to have our own children in the future.

 

70.             70.             My mother, stepfather, brother, and sister-in-law have been very accepting of me and my relationship with Melinda.  However, the marriage of my brother and his wife is still seen by many others as more serious than my relationship with Melinda, even though we have been together nearly three times as long.   When a couple is married, people just accept that the commitment is genuine and that the spouse is a member of the family.  Melinda and I do not have that option, and sometimes it feels as though we are always having to prove or justify our relationship to others.

 


71.             71.             I get along well with Melinda’s parents. At first, I felt like they thought of me as Melinda’s roommate rather than as her spouse. However, after Melinda’s mother stayed with us for a week and witnessed us as a couple living our day-to-day lives, their perceptions of our relationship seemed to change. Since then, they have treated me as Melinda’s spouse and things have been great.

 

72.             72.             I lost the opportunity to come out to my father and to tell him about my relationship with Melinda when he passed away in 1997.  I had hesitated in coming out to my father, or to my relatives on his side of the family, because I worried about their disapproval and possible rejection of my relationship. While my father was not a cruel person, he was a small town boy who worked in a very macho profession (mining) and his idea of a joke often contained the word “fag”.  Because of this I never told my father and I distanced myself from his family. Consequently, for almost two years before his death, I kept the most important part of my life from my father and I regret that more than I could ever put into words.

 

73.             73.             When my father passed away I was not out to that side of the family so Melinda couldn’t sit with me during the funeral.  Instead she sat in a separate part of the church. I finally did confide in my stepmother a number of months after my father passed away.  She outed me to my aunts and uncles.  While they have been fairly positive, I still sense uneasiness from some of them.  I am slowly letting myself become closer to that side of the family again. Some family members would prefer it if I did not  talk about my relationship. 

 


74.             74.             For the most part, Melinda and I have been lucky in the acceptance that we have received from both people close to us and people who are just acquaintances.  However, there have been occasions when our relationship has caused some people some uneasiness. We have also occasionally experienced harassment when we were on the bus or out for a walk. Recently, for example, we were on our way home on the bus, when two women sat behind us and made derogatory comments about our sexuality. The women stated that we were unnatural and that we should be put out of our misery. One repeatedly exclaimed that she did not want her children growing up around us.  I believe bigoted people would find it more difficult to say these kinds of hurtful things, at least publically, if same-sex couples could legally marry.

 

75.             75.             It is very hard to put into words all of the reasons I want to marry Melinda.  Of course, the number one reason is because I love her.  I want to be able to stand before my family, my friends and God and promise to spend my life with her. Straight couples do not need to prove any of these reasons in order to get a  marriage license.  I have all of these reasons and more.  I am committed to Melinda mind, body, and soul but I cannot get a marriage license.  To me, this is not only unfair, but blatant discrimination.

 

76.             76.             While I understand that, in some places like Vermont, the state has established civil unions, I do not think that such unions constitute equality for gay and lesbian relationships. I do not believe that the rest of the population would take our relationships seriously without legal recognition of marriage.

 

77.             77.             Essentially I am just a old-fashioned, small town girl who would love nothing more than to marry the woman I love in my little hometown church. I want to have a family, a dog, a couple of cats and a picket fence surrounding our home. Marriage is morally and spiritually important to me.  I want our children be born and raised in a married environment because it would confirm to our family, friends and, ultimately, our children that we are committed and in love.

 

78.             78.             I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Vancouver, in the Province        )

of British Columbia, this 15th day of            )                                                       

December, 2000                                           )   TANYA LOUISE CHAMBERS

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

 

 

                                                                    AFFIDAVIT

 

I, LLOYD FRANK THORNHILL, building manager, of the City of Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

79.             79.             I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

80.             80.             I am 58 years old and work as a building manager in Vancouver. I have been in a committed relationship with Robert Peacock for over 32 years.

 

81.             81.             I was born in a small town, Grand Bank, Newfoundland in 1942. We moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1949, the year that Newfoundland joined confederation. My parents had 8 children, 7 who have passed on. My dad died in 1992 at age 87 after a long bout with cancer. My mom is still living in Vancouver and turned 91 years old in November. My spouse, Bob, and I take her out to breakfast every Sunday morning after we leave church.

 


82.             82.             I realized from a young age that there was something different about me. When I was about 13, I began to have strange dreams, which involved making love with other boys. This bothered me quite a bit because I thought that there was something wrong with me. During my teen years, I was always uncomfortable around girls and spent most of my time with other boys. We hung together in a gang and were always getting into mischief. I had a few sexual experiences, both same and opposite sex, but had no long term relationships.

 

83.             83.             When I was 19, and spending most of my time hanging out at dance halls with the gang, I met a beautiful young woman named Linda. We dated for several months and I felt a real closeness with her. So close, in fact, that I proposed marriage. We were married in November 1963. The night before we were married, I knew in my heart this was not what I really wanted to do. But because of peer pressure and the views of society, I went ahead with the wedding. We had two children, Linda’s son from an earlier relationship, who I adopted, and a daughter. I have often thought back to that time over the past thirty-two years, and wish that I could have had the courage to cancel the wedding. Linda and I separated five years later in 1968.

 

84.             84.             During my five years of marriage, I had a few homosexual affairs. Although they were not serious love affairs, they made me aware that I was indeed a gay man and that there was no way that I could continue to live in a heterosexual relationship. My misguided way of coping with the situation was to drink as much as possible and stay away from home as long as I could. This period was very difficult and painful for both me and my wife.

85.             85.             In June 1968, I met Bob, who I fell madly in love with as soon as I looked into his beautiful eyes. It was very difficult for us to remain in small town Halifax, so we moved to Montreal where Bob’s family lived.  We lived there for one year before moving to Vancouver in 1969.

 

 


86.             86.             In 1970, I began working for the British Columbia Ferry Corporation. Bob was also hired by the B.C. Ferry Corporation in 1973. We both worked for the Corporation until 1990. Bob became active in the British Columbia Ferry and Marine Workers Union and  I subsequently I did as well.

 

87.             87.             Because we worked for the same company and were both active in the union, it was not possible for us to hide our relationship and, in any event, we never wanted or tried to hide it. Bob and I have been very open about our relationship right from the beginning. We were out long before it was in to be out. We have generally found that, by being open, we can gain the respect of others. The fact that we worked so hard on behalf of the members of our union may have helped our co-workers and fellow union members accept us and our relationship.

 

88.             88.             Nevertheless, like all gays and lesbians, we have, on occasion, had to face other peoples’ hostility and fear. We have tried to respond to it with humour and patience. For instance, some years ago, Bob and I were in our neighbourhood pub in Horseshoe Bay. Bob, being his usual exuberant self, left the table and began engaging in a loud conversation with some friends across the room. A man sitting near me, who I did not know, leaned over and said to me, “Look, a faggot”. I responded by saying, “Really? My goodness, I’ve lived with him for seventeen years and I didn’t know that”.

 


89.             89.             Although our involvement in the union was overwhelmingly positive, we also gained some insight into homophobia at a union convention in the mid 1970's. In the previous round of collective bargaining, I had tabled a proposal that the company provide benefits for same-sex couples. The proposal was not taken seriously be the company and, in fact, really only had lukewarm support from the other members of the union’s bargaining committee. As a result, I decided that we should present a resolution to the next union convention of the union proposing a policy to prohibit discrimination against any person for reason of sexual orientation. Up to that time, I had not witnessed real hatred caused by fear of our community, but the debate for and against our resolution was very heated and often vindictive. However, it did pass by a fairly wide margin which made me greatly respect the delegates in attendance.

 

90.             90.             I ran for the office of local union president four times, but the closest I ever came was first vice-president. There is no doubt in my mind that one of the reasons I didn’t make president was because of my sexual orientation. I was once told by a fellow union member that he liked me very much, but that he did not want the media to report that the ferry workers’ union was being run by a “fairy”.

 

91.             91.             Bob’s family has always treated me as one of their own. I really felt like part of the family when Bob’s sister, Jean, named her son Robert Lloyd, after both Bob and I. I delivered the eulogy at Bob’s father’s funeral.

 

92.             92.             My mother treats Bob as another son. My father loved him deeply and Bob sang at my father’s funeral in 1992. Fortunately my former wife and I have been able to maintain a friendly relationship. Our daughter, who is a manager with Nova Scotia Light and Power, had a daughter who is nine years old. Our son, who had moved to British Columbia in 1992, died tragically last year. My ex-wife and daughter stayed with Bob and I when they came to B.C. for the funeral.

 

93.             93.             During our thirty-two years together, Bob and I have shared our lives, plans and finances. We have always purchased things together and have never owned anything separately. We have always had joint bank accounts, we owned a home together and we have wills, leaving all of our possessions to each other.

 

94.             94.             From day one, our relationship has been based on trust, caring and support for each other. What we have is a covenant, a union, yes - a marriage. However, by law we cannot be given that piece of paper, stating that we are recognized as a married couple.

 


95.             95.             Bob and I became Christians in 1988 and our relationship became even more solid than it had been for the previous twenty years. God changed everything about us, but one thing he never changed was our sexuality.

 

96.             96.             We have decided to participate in this legal challenge because we believe it is wrong to deny legal recognition to our relationship. Given the length and strength of our relationship, it is somewhat less important for us to marry than it was earlier in our relationship. However, if we obtain the right, we will get married in a small, intimate ceremony with our closest family and friends. Thirty-two years seems like an awfully long time to be engaged.

 

97.             97.             We also believe that legal marriage is very important to younger gay couples who are denied the social and familial supports and legitimacy that heterosexuals take for granted. It is our hope that young gay and lesbian people can dream of a life filled with love, understanding and acceptance, and not have to face bigotry, misunderstanding or injustice.

 

98.             98.             If the government were to create something different than marriage for our community, I would suggest that it would be just like placing a pink triangle on our arms or making us shout “unclean” “unclean” when we walk down the streets, as the lepers of old were forced to do so that other people could avoid getting too close to them. I for one do not accept being treated like that, or being second-class to anyone. Until we are legally able to marry, gays and lesbians will not be able to claim equal rights.

 

99.             99.             I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Vancouver, in the Province        )

of British Columbia, this 18th day of           )                                                       

December, 2000                                           )   LLOYD FRANK THORNHILL

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

                                                                    AFFIDAVIT

 

I, ROBERT WILLIAM PEACOCK, laundry aide, of the City of Vancouver in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

100.         100.         I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

101.         101.         I am 53 years old and work as a laundry aide at Broadway Pentecostal Lodge. For the past 32 years, I have lived in a committed spousal relationship with Lloyd Thornhill.

 

102.         102.         I was born on June 23, 1947 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I am the second eldest of 8 children, born to a lower income family of Scot and English parentage. My mother was of English origin but was born in Halifax. My dad was Scottish. He was born in Edinburgh and came to Canada at a very early age. He lived in Halifax and served in the Korean War. Both my parents are now deceased. I have an older brother who lives in Halifax and my other brother and my sisters live in British Columbia.

 

103.         103.         I knew that I was gay from a very young age. I can remember having sexual fantasies about men as far back as age seven. I can also remember being infatuated with men in the movies and feeling that I would like to be the one in their arms when they were with women on screen. I was occasionally taunted in school because of my effeminate manners, but it did not really bother me. I hung around with girls and did girl things, but also hung around with boys and did boy things.

 

104.         104.         As I got older, about age 12 or 13, I began to understand who I thought I was, as a result of hearing jokes and name calling about “fags” and “homos”. I heard some of these jokes within my family, from my dad  who was in the Navy and his friends and also from cousins with whom I would hang around. Although I knew then that I was different, and really wanted to be with boys instead of girls, I knew that I could not because of societal expectations and the way other people hated homosexuals.

 

105.         105.         I did not speak about my homosexuality, but continued to live my life in silence.  However, I started to seek out other gay men and when I discovered I was not alone, I was elated. I made a lot of friends and tried to continue on with my life as a young gay man. However, it quickly became apparent to me that, at least in those days, gay men could not live their lives openly because there were too many laws and prejudices in the way. Consequently, I felt I had no option but to do what everyone else was forced to do; I lived a lie.

 

106.         106.         I continued to attend school. During the day I hung out with the guys and had girlfriends. At night, however, I became another person with my gay friends. I had a five year affair with another young man, but, when I graduated from school in the 1960’s I joined the Navy. I thought that by joining the Navy I might be able to run away from my difficulties and that maybe I could stop living this double life.

 


107.         107.         I had been dating a woman for approximately one year when she became pregnant. We were married in June 1968, when my daughter was a year old. I got married for the sake of my daughter, but it was a mistake. I was married for just over a month before we separated. I later learned that, although my family had suspected that I was gay, none of them ever said a word to me even when I decided to get married. They thought that, if I tried to live a “normal” life, everything would be all right.

 

108.         108.         I met my spouse, Lloyd Thornhill, in 1968. From the beginning, I believed that God destined us to be together.  We have been together in a monogamous, loving relationship for the past 32 years. If we could have married years ago, we would have. We have always supported and relied on each other. When one of us is down, the other is always there to bring him back up. Years ago, we exchanged rings as a symbol of our love and commitment and have never taken them off, except on once occasion when we exchanged our initial set of rings for a new set.

 

109.         109.         Lloyd and I have never tried to hide our relationship. Peoples’ reactions to us have differed over the years,. It was not always been easy living as a gay couple, particularly at the beginning when no real social structure existed for support. However, we have found that being open and honest is the best way to gain peoples’ respect. We were both active for many years in our trade union and were elected to office numerous times. Nevertheless, there were some occasions when we had to deal with peoples’ homophobia. Nevertheless, we fielded the questions, took the heat when necessary, and fought to have equal rights established for gays and lesbians in the workplace.  At my present job, there are some who are uncomfortable with my being so open about my relationship with Lloyd (by, for instance, bringing him to work functions and introducing him as my partner).

 

110.         110.         My family has been very supportive of my relationship with Lloyd. My mother and father became Lloyd’s mother and father. My sisters and brothers have become Lloyd’s sisters and brothers. One of my sisters named her son after both Lloyd and me. My daughter, Denise, lives in Ontario with her husband Chris and their two beautiful children.  Lloyd and I are hoping to visit them next summer.

 


111.         111.         Being able to legally marry now would simply allow us to gain legal recognition of the reality of our relationship. Denying us the right to marry sends a message that our relationship is less deserving of recognition just because we are gay. I believe that Lloyd and I deserve to be able to legally marry, as heterosexual couples do, and to be recognized as a family unit.  We applied for a marriage license in October but were rejected because we are both men. A copy of the letter rejecting our application is attached as Exhibit A.

 

112.         112.         I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Vancouver, in the Province        )

of British Columbia, this 18th day of           )                                                       

December, 2000                                           )   ROBERT WILLIAM PEACOCK

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits for B. C.

 

 

 

 

                                                                    AFFIDAVIT

 

 

I, ROBIN ROBERTS, teacher, of the City of Victoria in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

113.         113.         I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

114.         114.         I am fifty three years old and work as a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL), although I am currently on  temporary medical leave. I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and have two older siblings, a brother and a sister. Both of my siblings now also live in Victoria with their spouses and children. We are loving and supportive of each other, and I really appreciate my relationships with my siblings and their families. Both our parents are deceased.


115.         115.         I grew up in a time when girls were expected to grow up, date boys, marry and live happily ever after. I obtained a degree in Education from the University of British Columbia, taught elementary school for 2 years in Ladysmith, B.C., and, when I was twenty-two years old, began living on a boat in the San Juan Islands with an American yacht designer who later became my husband. We renovated and ran a marina in Seattle while I managed his design business and wrote for many international boating magazines about yacht design, boat building and cruising.

 

116.         116.         After my husband and I had been together for nine years, we had a son, Joshua. Just over three and a half years later, we separated. After a brief reconciliation, I left the marriage permanently in August of 1983. Joshua moved back to Canada with me, and in the divorce agreement, I had primary custody. By this time, my brother and his family had moved to Victoria, and I had met Diana.

 

117.         117.         Diana Denny and I met through our mutual interest in boating. She and her husband had initially contacted us by mail in 1972 about a yacht design. They eventually selected another designer and spent 8 years building a boat in the garage attached to their house. Diana’s parents-in-law owned a little island near Butchart Gardens which had become well known in the yachting circles and had been written up in the boating magazines. Various cruising people had mentioned visiting their island and, as we all moved in the same circles, people kept telling us that we should meet the Dennys. In hindsight, it seems prophetic how many people told each of us that we should meet the other. Talk about destiny!  However, it wasn't until 1982 that we actually met in person.

 


118.         118.         In the spring of 1982, around Easter time, my husband, son and I sailed over to Victoria with some friends. We had arranged to visit the Denny’s to see their boat under construction. I remember the first time I saw Diana. The kids had all run off to play in the yard and our husbands had made a beeline for the boat. I stood outside, adjacent to the open sliding door of Diana's kitchen. The smell of coffee and freshly-baked muffins wafted out, and then Diana arrived at the doorway. She has a gorgeous, engaging smile, although my eyes somehow managed to drop all the way to her feet! I noticed that she was wearing the only other pair of shoes I owned. One of us was wearing Birkenstocks, the other Rockport "Mocs", both of which were much less common in those days than  they are now - uncommon enough to mention it. So when I said "You're wearing my only other pair of shoes", she replied "And you're wearing MY only other pair of shoes." Somehow, that seemed significant enough for us to remember it ever since -- and it was just the bare beginning of a whole string of crazy and wonderful things we had in common. It was exceedingly easy for us to talk, despite the distractions of kids, boat, kids, back yard, kids, muffins, kids, husbands, kids. It was delightful to find the many common threads that wove through our lives. It remains delightful to this day.

 

119.         119.         At first, we recognized our relationship only as a friendship. It took us a  long time to realize and accept that we were more than friends. From the moment we met, we tried to find reasons to spend time together.  When I separated from my husband, Diana and her husband invited Josh and me to live with them in their house, for which I paid some rent and helped a bit with their business.  Eventually, Diana’s marriage also ended and her husband moved out.

 

120.         120.         Although I wasn't homophobic in that I had homosexual friends, I certainly had a lot of internalized homophobia. It took me a long time to identify and become comfortable with the idea that I was a lesbian and that others might judge me negatively because of it. It was one thing to have gay friends, but quite another to "admit" to being one too! Except for my brother and his family, who were always totally supportive from the moment I came out, I knew nobody else in Victoria at that time. It took about a year before we could apply the word "lesbian" to ourselves, and even then we didn't like the label, the categorizing, the stigma.

 


121.         121.         We also had a lot of other new issues including divorce and step-parenting. My son was moving with me to a new country, to a new home, away from his friends and father, and was becoming the youngest of four children instead of the only child. Diana's three children had to adjust to accepting both him and me, as well as accepting that their father had moved out. In no way did I want to be "the cause" of Diana’s divorce, although she assured me she would have divorced anyway. The whole thing was hugely, immensely scary.

 

122.         122.         The youngest children, Josh (age four) and Clio (age five), got on fantastically well right from the beginning. They were totally content for hours at a time in imaginative play. I also got along well with Diana’s oldest children, Angus and Alex. Because Diana’s husband hadn't liked noise, Diana had always made sure the kids were kept quiet. We discovered that, for the same reason, he had often sent the older boys' friends home when they came to visit. We, on the other hand, didn’t mind a lot of noise and we liked having the boys’ friends over. The house became quite raucous: we sang, we joked, we laughed, we yelled, we stormed, we cried. We ended up doing all the normal things that normal families do: worked, studied, cooked, cleaned, dreamed, fulfilled some of our dreams, traveled, read, danced, fought, made up, grew, partied, gardened, hiked, and looked after pets (including cats, a dog, a gerbil, rabbits, turtles, a hamster and a rat).

 


123.         123.         Our children did, however, have to deal with the prejudices of others on occasion as they were growing up. One child tried to hide our relationship when she reached high school age and as a result did not invite her friends over for a period of time. Another child had to endure homophobic comments and came home crying about it.  Two friends of our older son wrote "lezzies" in the dust of our Volvo station wagon and we did not realize it until we were in a very public place. We felt embarrassed and humiliated. We were also uncomfortable at the thought of having the boys back in our home, although we knew that they were nice boys at heart. When they visited our son again a couple of days later, we gathered our courage, took them aside and  asked them whether they were responsible for the writing on our car. They admitted that they were and we explained that they had caused us serious embarrassment. We said that we would never call them names and expected the same treatment from them. We had an open and honest discussion, they apologized and we enjoyed a positive relationship with them from then on. However, at the time, the incident was very unnerving and I was shaking during the entire conversation.

 

124.         124.         Our youngest child (Josh), on the other hand, wore us like a badge, enjoying the difference, and standing up to people who said anything negative.

 

125.         125.         Diana and I made wills within the first year we were together, mainly for the sake of the children. We also established a joint savings account within the first year of our relationship. Although we have developed a system for equitably sharing our expenses, we have each alone financially supported the entire family at different times. For example, when we first became a couple, Diana did not have any income. Later, when I home-schooled the children, she shouldered the finances of the family.

 

126.         126.         Diana and I exchanged rings early in our relationship.  Indeed, we have exchanged a succession of three different rings, each one nicer than the previous one, until we settled happily with a pair of silver and gold rings which we bought on the island of Patmos, in Greece, when we went on a year's trip with our children Josh and Clio in 1989-1990. Although we have not had a formal commitment ceremony, we have always marked various anniversaries that were significant to us by quietly doing something special together, such as going out for dinner, going on an especially nice walk, buying a beautiful bouquet of flowers for each other, or by writing poems.

 


127.         127.         When we reached our 15th anniversary, we decided to host an event to honour our togetherness. We invited a few close friends and family who had been really supportive of us over the years. I wrote a little song which we sang with several of our friends. One couple surprised us by writing us each a list of adjectives that they felt described us individually. They presented the lists to us with silk roses that they felt represented each of us, wrapping our hands together in a wide rainbow ribbon at the same time.  I then read a selection of anniversary poems which I had created over the years. For our anniversary this year, we had another party. It is wonderful to continually acknowledge our love for each other. Every day we tell each other, usually several times a day and always spontaneously, how we love each other. It feels so wonderful to wake up every morning and to go to sleep feeling loved. Like every loving couple anywhere, we contemplate with great delight and immense good fortune the prospect of spending the rest of our lives together. It's also a relief to feel more comfortable about being able to be open about expressing that to the public at large, too.

 

128.         128.         Had we been able to marry, it would not have changed the way in which we raised or dealt with our children; we raised them the way any loving parent or step-parent would. We feel that we managed to deal with any issues in positive and constructive ways. However, we believe that having the recognition of Canadian law behind us would have made it easier for our children to deal with their peers, and it would have freed our energy to be totally out of the closet, with the safety and comfort of the backing of the law behind us, as it is for heterosexual families who are able to take their status for granted. Having to protect ourselves and our children from the wrath of negative judgments about our love consumed a lot of emotional, mental and thus physical energy.

 

129.         129.         Heterosexuals have often judged gays and lesbians for not maintaining long-term relationships, but if they (heterosexuals) had to carry home the burden of not being able to talk naturally and openly about their families, their week-end, their spouse, but in fact had to hide it, they would soon find it difficult as well.  Having a society tell you constantly that your love is bad, that therefore you are bad, is an all-pervasive undermining of your innate loving goodness. It takes a very strong person to see through this heavy smokescreen and keep honouring a loving relationship when everything around you tells you that you are a bad person for doing so.  Having to hide love is a contradiction in terms, but being out of the closet also carries dangers.  So we would have appreciated having our country's law behind us and supporting us, thereby freeing more of our energy and attention towards constructive love and actions, instead of counteracting the destruction of homophobia.  A marriage law inclusive of gays and lesbians would have helped the children feel equal honour in having us as their legal parents/step-parents.

 


130.         130.         We feel pleased that our kids have grown into responsible, mature adults. Although a few members of Diana's family and some acquaintances expressed concern that our kids would become gay as a result of being raised by a lesbian couple, they have all become involved in loving heterosexual relationships.

 

131.         131.         When I first met Diana and we thought of our relationship as only a friendship, we would happily meet downtown with a kiss and a hug. When we finally admitted that our relationship was more than that, we felt awkward expressing ourselves openly in public places and for years felt totally constrained, all the while feeling quite envious of straight couples who were completely comfortable holding hands, kissing each other good-bye, and so on. I also felt unable to talk about Diana as my spouse as part of the common and natural exchange between ESL students and teachers. Unlike many other types of teachers, ESL teachers typically share their lives with students in order to establish trust by modelling how to share personal information, to promote discussion about common topics and to motivate them to practise speaking English. However, my response to  "what did you do on the week-end?" types of discussions were always carefully worded to refer to Diana as a "friend".

 


132.         132.         At work, I was also very aware of how much my gay and lesbian students had to lie and hide in the presence of their fellow students in the context of conversations on the topics of dating, relationships and marriage, and how I perpetuated this lying by not being open and out myself. However, being out felt dangerous to me.  For example, a Lybian student once said very forcefully about homosexuals "We KILL people like that in our country, you know!". Similarly, referring to a 1994 MacLean's statistic that a large majority of persons in Quebec would think it fine if their son announced he was gay, a Mexican student responded "I'd kill my son if he were gay!". I feel that if Canada recognized same-sex and heterosexual marriages as equal, we would set an example of tolerance and respect for the rest of the world. Why would anybody want to kill people for loving each other or undermine relationships which set an example of how to love, to communicate, to nurture children, and to handle life in a loving and productive way? It would be wonderful to be able to speak openly and honestly, as other ESL teachers are able to do, rather than to feel I have to hide, to deny my relationship and, in doing so, live a lie.

 

133.         133.         Our dreams now?  Just like any other middle-aged couple whose children have grown up and moved out, we want to enjoy, for the first time, being on our own. After 17 really successful, loving years together, we feel we have earned that right. But we have another dream: we want to get married and we want to help other gay and lesbian couples obtain the right to marry, so that it will hopefully be easier and less frightening for them to express and celebrate the love they share.

 

134.         134.         To me, the denial of the right to marry means that the state is still intruding in my bedroom, despite Pierre Trudeau's efforts of so long ago. I do not hear, nor do I wish to hear, what others are doing in their bedrooms. Why should others wish to know what we are doing in ours? Why do they not acknowledge that we are just as loving, caring, honest, sensitive, intelligent, moral, ethical, and hard-working as they are and deserve  the same legal rights?

 

135.         135.         If the government set up a separate regime, other than marriage, to recognize our relationship, I would feel that it was a homophobic gesture that continued to deny us full equality.                            

 

136.         136.         I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Victoria, in the Province )

of British Columbia, this 15th day of           )                                                       

December, 2000                                           )          ROBIN ROBERTS

____________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

 

                                                                    AFFIDAVIT

 

I, DIANA DENNY, nurse, of the City of Victoria in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

137.         137.         I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

138.         138.         I was born in Montreal, Quebec on September 29, 1943. I am a registered nurse and work in the field of geriatric nursing in Victoria, British Columbia.

 

139.         139.         I grew up in British Columbia with three siblings. My father is now deceased, but my mother is still a very active healthy woman at age 87.  When I was twenty two years old, I got married and my husband and I had three children, a daughter and two sons.

 

140.         140.         While I did not always conform to gender stereotypes, I did not have any consciousness of being a lesbian. If anything, I was homophobic.


141.         141.         In 1972,  my husband and I were living in Victoria and decided to build a sailboat, so we consulted a yacht designer. We corresponded, but did not actually meet the yacht designer and his wife, Robin Roberts, in person until 1982. I remember the day Robin and I met as if it were yesterday and think of it as the beginning of our wonderful close life together. We felt we had known each other in a past life. We finished each other's sentences, wore the same shoes, couldn't stop talking to each other as though we had a lifetime to catch up on.

 

142.         142.         At first, it never occurred to me that we could actually ever be lovers; homophobia ran strong and deep. However, in 1983, Robin came to the realization that she was living with someone she did not love, and who, in fact, she feared. As her friends, my husband and I invited Robin and her son to stay with us when she left her husband. In our home, Robin felt safe and happy and I realized that I had to be with her constantly. Over the next ten months, I began to realize my true feelings for Robin and to come to terms with my homosexuality. I realized that I must leave my marriage. Counseling long and hard always came up with the same answer. I had to make the move.

 

143.         143.         Eventually, in January 1984, my husband moved out of the house. My children, who were ages 5, 13 and 16 at the time, and Robin’s son, who was 4 years old, stayed with Robin and me. My ex-husband and I maintained a good relationship, although we seldom see each other now that our children are adults.

 


144.         144.         The reaction when we began life together as a family, two mums and four kids, was one of euphoria for all six of us. We had a happy, bouncy home where the two older children brought their friends from school and the young ones played constantly together, making lots of mess and noise. Because of the large age difference the kids were really like different generations. Robin was a wonderful parent to all of them and gave the older boys lots of help in things like setting up their banking and driving the car. In fact, my eldest son, Alex, bought Robin’s old car one day after he had an accident in it and had to pay to fix it. This was the beginning of his run of buying-fixing-selling cars which kept him busy as an older teen. The younger kids benefitted from being so young at the beginning of our relationship. Robin, who is a teacher by training, decided to home-school them while I worked full-time at nursing. She is calm and sweet and very patient. They learned well and our home was always happy and centred.

 

145.         145.         Robin and I raised 4 children together. The children pushed us to face many challenges and we feel we have been successful. They all love and support us and they are all healthy contributing members of society.

 

146.         146.         As for me, when Robin and I began life together as a couple, I felt calm for the  first time in my life. I finally had someone who loved me for who I was and who constantly gave me validations for what I did and who I was. She was the same with the kids and it rubbed off. I know we are meant to be together. We will live out our lives together - this we have known since we met. We have worked very hard at maintaining a clear, supportive, growing bountiful partnership which is comfortable and happy.

 

147.         147.         Life would have been even more wonderful if we had been able to be more relaxed about the fact that we are two women living this partnership in our dealings with the outside world, which is something we feel legal recognition of same-sex marriage would encourage. We were always aware that lesbians and gay men are considered by many in society to be indecent or unworthy of respect. However, over the years, we have become more and more confident to the point that now we feel strong enough to bring this petition, both for ourselves and for younger couples who will hopefully not have to deal with those negative attitudes. Because we have so much support from our friends and children and some of our family members, we can “try on” what total acceptance might be like.

 


148.         148.         For instance, when the older boys were in school, we had to deal with their friends' curiosity and homophobia. I think that we did a good job in addressing those issues with them, as they were curious and really wanted to accept us. The adults were different. We felt we had to keep a low profile as we were not sure how the teachers would accept us as parents. Over time, however, we were gradually accepted as we were obviously doing a good job in raising our children. By the time the youngest, Josh, was in school at age 12 (after being home schooled) we realized that our children were our biggest allies. He proudly outed us to his class the very first week at school.

 

149.         149.         My family members have not been totally supportive of my relationship with Robin. My mother and sister have been tolerant of the relationship. However my two brothers have had trouble accepting it. My older brother refused to speak to us for years, although he has recently begun to communicate with us again. Perhaps the most hurtful and regrettable incident was the way in which my mother found out that Robin and I were together. I had decided to wait to tell my family, who live in Vancouver, Oliver and Calgary, about my relationship with Robin because I wanted to tell them in person. We had already planned a get-together in Vancouver in a few weeks. However, my former father-in-law was upset that I had separated from his son, so he phoned my mother in the Okanagan and announced that I was in a homosexual relationship. He stated that, because of this, I was mentally ill and he recommended that I be put in a mental hospital. At the time, my mother was nursing my step-father who was in the last stages of Alzheimers disease. He passed away just three weeks later.

 

150.         150.         If Robin and I had been able to get married, I believe that it would have been easier for our children because  the relationship would have felt more official in their own minds, and they might have been more comfortable talking about it with friends. I also believe that we would have been more readily accepted by my family and by our community. Same-sex marriage is a first step in changing the climate of public opinion. This change is also fundamentally important for the children of new generations.

 


151.         151.         Robin and I feel as if we are already married in our hearts, minds and souls.  We know we cannot stop people from judging, but we want the legal right to live without fear of judgment.  Although we recognize that the law cannot change attitudes overnight, we believe that  legal recognition of our relationship would enable us to feel that we have the law on our side, rather than having the law reinforce and sanction the attitudes of those who view our relationship as illegitimate or marginalize it as less worthy. As a result, we applied for a marriage license last October. However, our application was rejected because we are both women. A copy of the letter rejecting our application is attached as Exhibit A.

 

152.         152.         I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                                     )

the City of Victoria, in the Province )

of British Columbia, this 15th day of            )                                                                  

December, 2000                                           )               DIANA DENNY

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

 

                                                                    AFFIDAVIT

 

I, WENDY ANN YOUNG, of the City of Prince George in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

153.         153.         I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

154.         154.         I have both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree from Northern Michigan University, located in Marquette Michigan. My training is in speech, language, and audiology and I provide communication and technology support for children with severe communications problems in Northern British Columbia. Although I was trained in the United States, I choose to come and live and work in Canada. I have lived in Canada for fifteen years.

 


155.         155.         I was born in Bay City Michigan, on May 26, 1962. I have three younger siblings, two sisters and a brother. We are all very close and proud of each other. My parents live in southern Michigan. They are supportive and proud of all of their children and our partners.

 

156.         156.         My university years were a tangled web. I was not out to my family, although they suspected something was up. I was in a relationship, but my girlfriend was scared to death about anyone finding out we were lesbians, even though it was obvious that her family knew and supported us. I was always invited to their house for the weekends, special events and holidays. When it came time for me to graduate and move on, my girlfriend was still refusing to talk about our relationship or to acknowledge it to our friends and family. This was not the way I wanted to live the rest of my life and we parted. I moved to Canada and she stayed in middle America.

 

157.         157.         I met Tess at a hockey game in 1998. We were introduced by a mutual friend and over the following year I ran into her at other events. At the time, I was in a relationship with another woman and, although I enjoyed talking to her, I thought of Tess as simply an acquaintance.

 

158.         158.         A few months later, my relationship broke up. It was a difficult time for me and I later discovered that our mutual friend insisted that Tess phone to offer me support, since she had previously been through a similar breakup.  Initially Tess was a friend, supporting me through a very tough time.

 

159.         159.         As I got to know Tess, I discovered that she believed in the same morals as I did and was equally giving and supportive to friends. Both of us have a kindness and empathy for those around us. Other qualities of Tess' that drew me to her were her openness, honesty and kindness. But most importantly, I think I had finally met an equal in intelligence as well as appreciation and joy for life.

 


160.         160.         When we finally acknowledged our mutual attraction, we  agreed that we should go slowly. Our relationship was so easy to slip into. I think part of the ease comes from the fact that we are both communicators. If a situation arises we talk about it and find a resolution. We are supportive of each other in our separate endeavors and together there is very little that will get in our way. I believe that Tess is my soul mate. In Tess I have found someone who accepts me as I am, faults and imperfections, strengths and weaknesses. She meets me on all levels: love, intelligence, humor, politics, creativity, work ethic, sympathy and empathy, as well as zest for life. It is a wonderful gift that we share. It would be wonderful to have this union acknowledged on a legal level.

 

161.         161.         On September 23, 1999, we bought a house together. After the legal work was completed and the papers were signed, I asked Tess to be my life partner. She said yes amidst a flood of tears. We knew that we could not be legally married, so we decided to have a commitment ceremony. This past August we held the commitment ceremony in our large backyard. The ceremony was complete with a priest, vows that we wrote, a blessing of us, a Kwanza-style candle ceremony utilizing the colors of the rainbow, a blessing of rings that we exchanged, and our friends and family participating in the ceremony through readings, songs, and music. There were over 85 guests of diverse backgrounds, young and old, gay and straight, single people and couples.

 


162.         162.         There was not a dry eye in the house. In lieu of gifts, we asked that people make donations to the women's shelter in town. A large catered party followed the ceremony and close friends stayed on for a fabulous potluck dinner and dancing.  We received messages of congratulations from around the province.  Even those of our gay friends who would choose not to marry said how meaningful the ceremony was for them and expressed their support for us, our relationship and the importance of making our own choices. Within the lesbian and gay community, we do not have a lot of public markers through which we can validate and affirm our relationships. We believe the societal supports that derive from public rituals of love and commitment are important to any couple. However, same-sex relationships are made more difficult by our lack of a process to name and publicly declare our love and commitment. It was important to us that our community recognize us, both as individuals and as a unit.

 

163.         163.         The ceremony was a wonderful and transformative experience. But we knew in our hearts that it did not confer the status of legal marriage, and that it could only convey a partial feeling of validation. It could be only an incomplete approximation of our goal of affirming and validating our relationship, so long as legal status is denied to us. It is simply not possible, at the end of the day, to make something real which the law denies is real.  We wanted to call it a wedding, and our friends wanted to celebrate it as such, but we all knew that we could not.  The inability to obtain that one final step of legal recognition was a bitter reminder on an otherwise joyous occasion of society’s resistance to our lives, love and existence.

 

164.         164.         Tess and I are true partners. Our relationship is characterized by sharing and interdependence. We share the household duties according to our strengths. We love to entertain and regularly host dinner parties that our friends love to attend.  We also share our hobbies which include golfing, crafts, and photo-journaling.  We have two dogs, Mardi and Dugan.  We always spend family holidays together, often with Tess’ daughters or my siblings. Last year, Tess and I went on a trip to meet Tess' family in Ireland and England. Prior to our trip, we had wills made out that leave our property to each other and to Tess’ daughters.

 


165.         165.         We have had to cope with some obstacles, although they have not been as serious as the difficulties we know that others have faced. However, we do experience burdens as a same-sex couple as a result of the “everydayness” of being different. For example, we never know when we might be challenged or how the next person that we deal with might react. Whether it is saying goodbye at the airport, or taking our dog to the vet, or dealing with a dentist’s receptionist, we never know when our relationship will be treated with derision or disrespect. I am careful not to speak as freely about my partner as heterosexuals do, because I am never sure what people will think.  Although there are many supportive people in our community, we often feel grateful when someone treats us with dignity and respect, and then we feel chagrined that we have to feel grateful because someone was nice to us.

 

166.         166.         In my own small office,  I am treated no differently than any other person and my partner is treated as any other partner. We go to dinners and parties and are welcomed the same as others. Tess finds this amazing. I consider myself fortunate to work with  enlightened and accepting people.

 

167.         167.         My family is also very enlightened and accepting. They feel that if I am happy, then they are happy. My mom has more easily accepted the concept of having a gay daughter than my dad, but he has come a long way. He seems to have taken to Tess and expanded his family to include her without hesitation. One of my sisters is also a lesbian and she and her partner have a two-year old child that they are raising together. My other siblings are wonderful. To the children, we are just Auntie Tess and Auntie Wendy.

 

168.         168.         Tess has two daughters, Natasha and Davina, who were full grown when we met. While they initially had some difficulty with how open and out we are, they have come to accept me as Tess' partner.  They have told me that their mom is the happiest they've ever seen her and that is good enough for them. Natasha spoke at our commitment ceremony, and publicly thanked me for loving Tess. That meant more to me than I can say.

 


169.         169.         Having the choice to legally marry and having my relationship recognized by the government and society is important to me and would make me feel that I am no longer a second class citizen. It would also help when it comes to legal matters if something were to happen to one of us. I don't think there would be a problem with either of our families, but you can never be certain. I believe legal marriage would help our families and others see that lesbian and gay relationships are as legitimate as heterosexual relationships. That our friends already see us this way is an immeasurable gift. I would very much like to be able to say with pride that Tess and I are married.  Any separate legal regime for gays and lesbians would leave us with second class status; like putting us at the back of the bus. It would not be acceptable.

 

170.         170.         In October, Tess and I applied for a license to marry but were turned down because we are both women. A copy of the letter denying our application is attached as Exhibit A.

 

171.         171.         Having a relationship with a partner like Tess does many things for me. It allows me the freedom to grow, knowing that I have the support of a loving person behind me. It gives me extra strength when something or someone knocks me down. I have my very own cheering section. It gives me refuge when the world becomes too big and cruel. I have someone to share things with. I think my relationship and its legitimacy deserves to be acknowledged on a legal level. I do not think I should have to settle for less.

 

172.         172.         I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                         )

the City of Prince George, in the                 )

Province of British Columbia, this 15th      )                                                       

day of December, 2000                               )           WENDY ANN YOUNG

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia

 

 

                                                              AFFIDAVIT

 

I, MARY THERESA HEALY, director of a research institute, of the City of Prince George in the Province of British Columbia, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

 

173.         173.         I am one of the petitioners in this proceeding and as such have personal knowledge of the matters to which I hereinafter depose.

 

174.         174.         I am 47 years old and work as the Director of the Research Institute for Women’s Health in Prince George, British Columbia. My family and friends call me “Tess”.

 

175.         175.         I was born in Ireland and grew up in England.  My family was very poor and, when my mother abandoned the family when I was 14 years old, I was forced to drop out of school to look after my baby sister. When I was 16, I moved to London, where I met David who became my partner and the father of my two daughters, Davina and Natasha. In 1972 we moved to Montreal, where David’s parents lived. Later we moved to New Brunswick. We separated in 1975.

 

176.         176.         As a single parent, I found a job working as a nurse’s aide to support myself and my daughters. I later married Steven, who was a physician, and we all moved to Mozambique for two years. In 1980, we returned to Canada and lived in Saskatoon, where I attended the University of Saskatchewan as a mature student. For the next few years, I attended university, raised my children, worked at part-time jobs and had an active political and volunteer life. My marriage broke down in 1985.

 

177.         177.         A year after I left my husband, I came out as a lesbian. I then became involved in a relationship with a woman for 11 years. In 1990, we moved to British Columbia so that I could pursue my Ph.D.

 

178.         178.         Although it lasted for 11  years, my relationship was not without its difficulties. My partner was not out, and enveloped our relationship in shame and secrecy. At the beginning, I did not tell my daughters that I was a lesbian. We each maintained a separate bedroom and my children thought that my partner was just a roommate.  In 1995, I accepted a position at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George and my partner stayed in Vancouver. We ended our relationship in 1997.

 

179.         179.         I was devastated at the breakup of my relationship and swore I would never again commit myself to the vulnerability of loving. I was dating and working very hard on my dissertation and at my paid job, when I met Wendy.

 

180.         180.         I was introduced to Wendy by a mutual friend  at a hockey game in 1998. As I walked down the steps of the arena to meet her, I had a powerful sensation that I knew her from before, even though at that point I could not see her face. I am not a believer in the touchy-feely stuff about past lives or women’s spirituality. Yet, for a brief second I had the oddest sense of not being in a hockey rink but on a hillside, standing above my lover. The sensation went and I dismissed it.

 

181.         181.         It is the way of small towns that, although I had lived in Prince George for over two years and had never seen this woman before, I then began to run into her everywhere. I could not understand the powerful attraction I felt to her and at the same time I felt a rising concern for feeling this way about someone who I learned was in a committed relationship. I coped by trying to convince myself that I disliked her, telling myself she was too arrogant, too opinionated, too stereotypically American. When this did not work, I began to bury myself in work, refusing invitations to events where she was likely to be and concentrating on my own life.

 

182.         182.         Three months later, our mutual friend phoned and told me that Wendy’s relationship had broken up. She asked me to call Wendy to offer moral support.  After some initial hesitation, I called Wendy and left a message, thankful she did not answer the phone. What was I going to say: “This is a good thing; you weren’t meant to be with her, you were destined to be with me”?  By the time she called back, I had decided not to reveal my feelings, but just to try to be a good friend to her and to support her through her loss. Several months later, after Wendy had loosened the bonds of the previous relationship, we each felt ready and open to exploring a deeper relationship.

 


183.         183.         I insisted that, in order to be sure of our feelings, we would date but not sleep together for six months. I wanted to be sure that we were choosing each other for reasons other than sexual attraction. Dinners, movies, potluck suppers, garden parties, we had a round of social engagements but we held off on the intimate side of the relationship until we were sure of our feelings.

 

184.         184.         We moved in together in May 1999. Sharing a home came easily as  we have similar tastes and pleasures and living together proved revitalizing and rewarding. We share on the most fundamental levels. Three months later, we decided to look for a house to buy together.

 

185.         185.         In September 1999, we purchased a new house. The day after the deal was signed, Wendy asked me to be her life partner. It was probably the most moving and emotional moment of my life and introduced a sense of finally having arrived at peace with myself and my world. I had come home.

 

186.         186.         This past August, we held the most beautiful commitment ceremony. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. Peter Zimmer of the local Anglican Church, who has been very supportive on lesbian and gay equality issues. He has been educating his parishioners about the celebration and consecration of gay ceremonies in his church. At the ceremony, he pointed out that the Church has no difficulty blessing battleships and foxhunts, so he finds it hard to understand why there is sometimes resistance to blessing loving human relationships, and he publicly thanked us for giving him the opportunity to perform the service.

 

187.         187.         Over 85 people attended the ceremony, and many seemed openly moved by the power and genuineness of the ceremony. We had included a range of friends in the ceremony asking them for their contributions. These were woven together with our ceremony rites, which included a blessing of the rings, an exchange of vows and a rainbow candle ceremony (based on Kwanza, an African ceremony about promise keeping).

 


188.         188.         Many of our heterosexual friends said they had never been to such a moving ceremony.  As for Wendy and me, I knew I would feel different after the ceremony, but I did not realize how fundamentally. I feel as if publicly committing to Wendy as my life partner has taken our relationship to new and even deeper levels. I can only imagine how much more profound an impact being able to marry would have upon our lives, and cannot accept that we should be denied the legitimacy which legal recognition of our marriage would afford.

 

189.         189.         To me, our relationship means home, acceptance, warmth, comfort, all the things which had been missing in my life. It is based on a foundation of  companionship, wonderfully creative and fulfilling passion and respect. I have never known a relationship like this. In all the miles I have travelled in search of a home, I have now found mine.

 

190.         190.         Wendy’s family is very supportive of our relationship and we went to visit them in Michigan this past summer. Wendy’s father told me he would be my dad. My sisters have met and adore Wendy. We went to England last year for the wedding of my baby sister.

 

191.         191.         My daughters were grown by the time I met Wendy.  They have had some difficulty accepting my sexual orientation over the years, although the situation has now improved. When I first told Davina that I am a lesbian, she urged me to keep it secret from Natasha. At one point Natasha said that if I were gay, she would go to live with her father. They appeared to accept my sexual orientation as long as it was never visible and never mentioned. Because of the nature of my relationship with my former partner, it was easy to bow to that pressure but I felt that I was living a life at war with myself. On the one hand, I felt proud of who I was but, on the other, I had to hide who I was most of the time. Only in rare situations, when I was among other gays and lesbians, could I feel whole.

 


192.         192.         When I met Wendy, however, I was not prepared to pretend any longer. For a while, my openness about my relationship with Wendy made my daughters uncomfortable. They even indicated that they did not intend to come to our commitment ceremony. In the end, however, both Davina and Natasha attended the ceremony with their partners and I really believe it helped to change the way in which they see our relationship. Natasha spoke at the service, saying how glad she was to have come, how good it was to see me happy, and thanking Wendy for loving me. I think it also really helped for them to see what broad public support existed for our relationship from such a diverse array of guests, including several town dignitaries. They seemed to finally understand that our relationship was not something to be ashamed of. I strongly believe that equal marriage rights would go a long way towards allowing same-sex couples across the country to normalize their relationships and help bring them closer to their other family members.

 

193.         193.         While our relationship has been accepted by many of the people we deal with in our day-to-day lives, others have not been so accepting. Like all gays and lesbians, we also face the constant everyday struggle about whether and when to be open about our relationship. For instance, after a long day at work when I am tired and eager to get home, casual exchanges with people in the drug store, the grocery store or wherever, become fraught. I have to decide whether to correct their assumptions, to clarify yet again that “My spouse is not a ‘he’”, to decide whether I have the energy for yet one more public education exercise. Do I risk the rejection, the incomprehension, the anger?

 

194.         194.         I know that it’s more difficult to be “out” in a smaller community like Prince George, but I have family and community here now, and Wendy and I do not ever want to leave. We plan to turn our current home into a bed and breakfast when we retire.

 


195.         195.         I think if gays and lesbians could legally marry, it would be a huge step in countering the homophobia, prejudice and hatred that marks so much of our lives. While this alone might not change attitudes or society overnight, it would normalize gay relationships and make them part of the everyday landscape.

 


196.         196.         We are set outside the pale of civilization. A major marker of adult status is denied us. Choosing not to marry when you can is one thing; to be denied the right to make that choice is another. We are human beings with human aspirations and desires, and the same human need to build relationships and a home. We view marriage as an essential component of our aspirations and believe that the law should not stand in our way.


 

197.         197.         I am not interested in some kind of “separate but equal”, alternative regime to marriage. To me, it would be a sop, a consolation prize. We want equality.

 

198.         198.         I make this affidavit in support of my petition and for no other or improper purpose.

 

 

SWORN BEFORE ME AT                         )

the City of Prince George, in the                 )

Province of British Columbia, this 15th      )                                                        

day of December,  2000                              )           MARY THERESA HEALY

________________________________

A Commissioner for taking affidavits

for British Columbia