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Legal News - Ontario - The first legal gay marriage is now certified

June 30, 2004

The first legal gay marriage is now certified
January 14, 2001: signed, sealed, delivered.

"Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell's marriage became official this week, two years after they said their vows. That ceremony, it turns out, was historic: Canada's first, officially sanctioned gay marriage."
MetroWest Daily News (Massachusetts), June 15, 2003


Certificate of Marriage for Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell

Although there have been other marriage ceremonies performed for gay and lesbian couples, Canada has the distinction of recognizing and registering the earliest known gay and lesbian marriages in modern times: our double marriage ceremony with Anne and Elaine Ontario Registrar GeneralVautour, officiated by Rev. Brent Hawkes at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT) on January 14, 2001.

At the time, we were issued a government record of marriage, following the legal process of reading the banns of marriage on three consecutive Sundays in church, but the governments of Ontario and Canada refused to acknowledge the legality of the marriages and we began a legal battle to get the marriages registered.

The court agreed that our marriage was legal, in the historic Ontario divisional (lower) court decision on July 12, 2002, Record of marriageand again in the Court of Appeal for Ontario decision on June 10, 2003. In the latter instance, the court ordered the registration of our marriage.

Married Jan. 14, 2001.  Registered June 11, 2003, one day after our victory in court.The decision made our marriage legal, as of January 14, 2001, preceding the legal same-sex marriages of the Netherlands (April 2001) and Belgium (January 2003). The date of registration for our marriage is June 11, 2003, a long time between a marriage and its registration. It represents enormous effort from many people.

After a long systemic delay in obtaining a copy of our certificate of marriage, we were presented our marriage certificate, together with Anne and Elaine, on June 27, 2004, at MCCT's Pride Day service. Douglas Elliott, the lawyer from Roy Elliott Kim O'Connor who led the legal team that fought for our rights (including Patricia Lefebour, Trent Morris, Victoria Paris, and Sasha Dmitrenko) proudly handed over the long-fought-for and dearly treasured documents.

Our thanks to everyone involved in the marriage initiative, and to our friends and supporters everywhere who continue to work for equality and human rights! Marriage equality is still denied in 7 provinces and Canada's territories due to political delay. We continue the work we began in 2000. Please call on Prime Minister Paul Martin to bring in same-sex marriage legislation without delay.

SELECT to read a timeline of events leading up to our marriage and our road to full equality/

SLECT to read "A study in contrasts:  The Prime Minister & the Governor General"


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