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Joe Varnell, Rev. Dudley, and Kevin Bourassa (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2002)
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Advocacy News - Events - February 14, 2004

February 14, 2004

Valentine's Day - Free to Marry

"The idea for this historic event was born during a recent visit to Toronto and by the enthusiasm of those brave Canadians who are true leaders in the path to equal marriage. We consider this day as an act of civil obedience."
Rev. Elder Dr. Troy Perry
Founder and Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches


Couples in Canada and the United States will repeat last year's successful Valentine's day of action in support of equal marriage. Canada's perspective will be somewhat different from 2003. We will celebrate the arrival of same-sex marriage in Ontario and British Columbia and protest the delay of equal rights in the remaining provinces and territories that still practice marriage discrimination.

There are many ways to get involved:

  1. Go to your local "city hall" or department of vital statistics on February 13 or 14 (Valentine's day falls on a Saturday this year, so some service bureaus may not be open on Feb. 14 - check with your municipal office in advance for local hours of operation and procedures) and ask for a marriage license (same-sex couple). If your request is rejected (as expected everywhere except Ontario and B.C. where officials must comply and give you a licence), be polite. Thank the official. We are exercising our Charter rights as Canadian citizens, not protesting against "city hall" (or where ever you go in your home town for a marriage license). However in taking local action in our own home towns, we are asking all Canadian provinces to defend citizens by calling on the Justice Minister to honour our Charter rights and end marriage discrimination.
  2. If you are from a supportive faith community, you may wish for a statement from your community, calling on the government to end marriage discrimination.
  3. Tell the local media and press about your plans (contact us if you need assistance) one week before your event, and ask them to cover your event as part of their Valentine's Day news coverage. Share your story. By setting your event between 9 a.m. and 12 noon, you insure the best possible press coverage.
  4. Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed.
  5. Send an equal marriage Valentine.
  6. Sponsor house parties, invite local officials and share your stories. Consider raising funds for donations to this cause.
  7. Invite your friends and supporters to join you in celebration of equal marriage in Ontario and B.C. or protest for the remaining parts of Canada where marriage discrimination remains - make this a public event in your town or city.
  8. Let us know about your plans (and consider sending us a write-up or photo afterwards) to include on our site. Check back for updates!

For equality,

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell


Valentine's Events

With the help of other advocacy groups, a number of activities are planned. Check back regularly for additions to this list. Please get involved and add your event here:

Canada-wide

CBC News Sunday will broadcast the marriage of Douglass Drozdow-St. Christian (50) and his partner Stephen Drozdow-St. Christian (33) live to the nation on Feb 15 . The couple plan to shorten their hyphenated surname to "St. Christian" after their marriage. The program will include a debate on the issues, including commentary from the former President of PFLAG Canada (and recent recipient of the Order of Canada) Eldon Hay. Rev. Deana Dudley of Christos MCC will be the officiant. Read more details about the day in a statement from the couple.

Feb 14 Day of Action

British Columbia - Victoria

At noon Valentine's Day February 14th there will be a celebration of British Columbia equal-marriage rights at the fountain of the Victoria Conference Centre (behind the Empress, near the bus station). A recently married couple (and fathers of two sons) will speak of their decision, and the spiritual and political reasons for equal-marriage rights will be addressed in the 15-minute event. For more information contact J. McRee Elrod

Feb 14 Day of Action

Manitoba - Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Chapter of Canadians for Equal Marriage has sent rainbow-coloured ribbons adorned with linked wedding bands to all Members of Parliament.

“We hope that MPs in favour of equal marriage for all Canadians will wear the ribbons in the House of Commons on Friday, February 13, 2004,” said Michelle Ritchot, Co-founder of the Winnipeg chapter of Canadians for Equal Marriage. “This is an opportunity for MPs to show that their vision of Canada includes everyone.”

The ribbons, created by Coco Kissak and Leigh Mollison, have been very popular in Winnipeg since being featured in the February 2004 edition of a local magazine called Swerve.

“Valentine’s Day is set aside to celebrate love,” continued Michelle. “Same-gender couples can be just as loving and committed as opposite-gender couples. Last year, same-gender couples from across the country applied for marriage licenses to demonstrate their love and their desire to make a public commitment to each other. My wife Stefphany and I took part, and were highlighted in the local and national media.”

“This year, same-gender couples can get married in Ontario and B.C.,” said Brad Tyler-West, Co-founder of the Winnipeg chapter of Canadians for Equal Marriage. “It’s been over 8 months that same-gender couples have been getting married and the sky hasn’t fallen yet. Next Valentine’s Day we hope that marriage equality will be a reality all across this great country of ours.”

For further information:
Brad Tyler-West, co-founder, (204) 452-2304
Canadians for Equal Marriage Winnipeg Chapter

Feb 14 Day of Action

Ontario

The Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is hosting a free marriage checkup during Valentine's week (open to all same-sex couples, not just those who are married).

Feb 14 Day of Action

Ontario - Guelph

A "love-in" is planned for the city of Gueph on Feb 14th, from noon until 4 p.m at the Cafe Aquarius (33 MacDonell, up). Among other things, organizers plan to prepare a Valentine's Day card, with lots of signatures, for local MP Brenda Chamberlain who says she will vote against same-sex marriage. For more information see www.ballyhoomedia.ca/lovein.

Feb 14 Day of Action

Ontario - Ottawa

St. Valentines is just around the corner. This would be an excellent occasion for us to reunite and celebrate newly married gay and lesbian couples living in the National Capital Region NCR. It would also be a good opportunity to give Cupid a hand in letting Ottawa know and see that love does not discriminate.

You are cordially invited to join us in a skating party on Saturday, February 14th, 2004 on the Rideau Canal. We will meet at 2PM at the Fifth Avenue main entrance to the Canal. From there, we will be lead by several skaters carrying rainbow flags to Dow's Lake. At Dow's Lake, we will gather around and celebrate our newly wed couples. There will be music, brief speeches, and gifts for the newly weds! We will have on-hand pro-gay ministers and clergy and other invited guests to join the party.

In preparation, we need some help:

  1. We need married couples! If you are a married same-sex couple or if you know any married same-sex couples that could attend the party, please let us know. We would love to have at least several couples to celebrate. We would appreciate knowing the number of couples in advance. Contact Denis-Paul at ottawa@equal-marriage.ca
  2. We need skaters! We don't need professional skaters, but skilled skaters that can skate in tandem with flags.
  3. We need a few hands to help us coordinate the day. ottawa@equal-marriage.ca
  4. We need you, your friends and family to join us! So spread the word, mark your calendar and join us on February 14th!

This party is being organized by the NCR Chapter of Canadians for Equal Marriage. You can also reach the NCR Chapter through the Ottawa office of Egale 613.2301043 or 1.888.204.7777. More details.

Feb 14 Day of Action

Ontario - Toronto

Last year Ian Taylor & George Olds were one of the couples who showed up at Toronto City Hall on Valentine's Day to request a marriage licence. This year they will be getting married at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, after a reception at City Hall to celebrate the arrival of equal marriage in Ontario, and to remember Canadians in other provinces who still are denied the freedom to marry. Transportation to George and Ian's wedding will be provided from City Hall to MCCT for those wishing to attend their 3 p.m. nuptials . In an event called "Bitter Sweet", Mayor David Miller and Councillors Kyle Rae & Olivia Chow will present a special City Council honour to Ian and George, the Barnett-Kemper family, and George Hislop. Singing Out! will perform and hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served, followed by a skating party. All the lesbian and gay couples who have married since the Ontario ruling, as well as all the engaged couples, are invited for "class pictures" that will be sent to Paul Martin as a belated Valentine's It all begins at 12:30 pm. on Feb. 14th at Toronto City Hall, presented by Canadians For Equal Marriage. For further info, or to RSVP, please call Cicely at 416-928-1238

Civil Marriage Trail 2004:  U.S. couples coming to Canada for same-sex marriage on Valentine's day.American couples will participate in Toronto's Valentine's Day of action in support of equal marriage. In an homage to the historic slave route to freedom, known as the Underground Railroad, the initiative is called "The Civil Marriage Trail". A Canadian judge will perform individual same-sex marriage ceremonies for the American couples. Organizers vow to return to the U.S. prepared to challenge their laws.


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