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Joy Masuhara and Jane Hamilton

 

 

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"What RDPs do is brand our relationships as different. You will be adopting
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Rosa Parks, Dec. 21, 1956, the day after the Supreme Court said she had a right to sit anywhere on the bus.

 

 

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Diana Denny and Robin Roberts, Victoria, 1997; now working for equality in British Columbia, with 19 other couples across Canada

 

 

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"RDPs are nothing better than second class status. I wonder if the shoe were on the other foot how that proposition would be welcomed?"

 

 

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"Why would anyone bother to respect us, grant us the dignity that all citizens enjoy, stop attacking us physically and verbally,when even the members of the BC legislature, under the guise of 'liberalism', do not see us as worthy of full citizenship."

 

 

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Letters regarding Registered Domestic Partnerships

For the first time, couples from every group across Canada, involved in the court challenges for equal marriage, joined together to respond to the threat of registered domestic partnerships being introduced in British Columbia.

Lorne Mayencourt, MLA in British Columbia, met the with couples involved in the B.C. legal case in mid-November 2001, indicating that RDPs were under consideration.

A letter campaign began immediately, with samples found below.

Mr. Mayencourt responded Nov. 20, 2001 to barbara findley:

Lorne Mayencourt just called to clarify that the government is NOT intending to introduce RDP legislation at this point. It is CONSULTING people. This is a LONNNNG process. For example the legislative agenda for the spring, beginning in February, is ALREADY FULL. In particular he would expect that the FIRST step would be the community forum which he proposed to us on Friday evening.

 


Lorne,

I heard a rumour that Registered Domestic Partnerships are being considered by the provincial government. I would like you to know that as a gay man I find RDPs insulting. We have not come this far as a community to accept a "level" of rights that remains second to the straight majority. I believe instituting RDPs would be a step backwards for all of us. Justify it as you might, Lorne, you are talking about creating a separate set of rules for gay people and straight people. What if we had a separate set of rules for chinese?
Or blacks? Or women? It's not good Lorne. Equality means the same rules for everyone. No exceptions. To have otherwise is extremely harmful. As a gay man yourself, I hope you can see this.

In this case, give us gay marriage, or give us nothing.

Thanks for your time,
Gary Lewis
Nov.19, 2001


Dear Mr. Mayencourt;

Dr. Joy Masuhara and I are one of the couples in the BC same-sex marriage case. We were not able to be present at the meeting on Friday night where you met with the petitioners, but thank you for agreeing to speak with us. As well, thank you for walking so prominently in the vigil for Aaron Webster yesterday. It was a moving and poignant event that shows BC how very, very far we have yet to go in eroding discrimination and hatred towards gays and lesbians.

One thing that will help, long-term, is certainly same-sex marriage. One thing that will hinder is RDPs--especially here in BC where they offer us utterly no gains. All they would do here is entrench LGBT difference and second-class status.

We deserve so much better. We don't want a step on the pathway to equality. We've already had too many of those. We want and demand full equality.

Jane Hamilton and Joy Masuhara
Nov.19, 2001

 


Mr. Mayencourt

It is deeply troubling to hear that you are planning to introduce legislation for Registered Domestic Partnerships in British Columbia. RDPs are not a "reasonable compromise" or a "step forward" as is sometimes presented. They are an attempt to try and appear forward thinking while maintaining a social prejudice and furthering the misconception that gay and lesbian relationships are less worthy of the community and social recognition that goes along with full equal marriage.

I joined my life with my spouse Kevin Bourassa in a legal ceremony on January 14, 2001 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. Our church has recently been in court, fighting for the registration of our marriage by the Ontario Government. We have sat and listened to the
opponents of gay marriage propose RDPs trying to disguise the ugly sound of bigotry as the voice of reason.


What RDPs do is brand our relationships as different. You will be adopting a social model that returns us to a world where Jews wear yellow stars, gays have pink triangles on them and blacks go to different schools on different buses.

Are gays and lesbians supposed to be grateful that they will have second class status? Are we supposed to embrace the opportunity for being singled out as different with the consolation that at least we're not being killed anymore? RDPs are a cop out that lets people who regard themselves as "liberal" sleep at night. They help out your conscience by making you feel enlightened. "We're for equality for all people, but for God's sake don't let them join the country club"

Mr. Mayencourt, you have an opportunity to stand up and to use your voice to reject RDPs and promote full equal treatment for all Canadians. Propose instead that your government join its voice with that of the couples across the country that are fighting for equal rights for all Canadians. Take a stand and endorse full equal marriage for same sex couples instead of hanging up a sign that clearly sends gays and lesbians to the back of the bus. Otherwise you will be joining the name of British Columbia with the social models of 1930s Nazi Germany, 1960s Alabama and 1980s South Africa.

No separate but equal!

Joe Varnell
Toronto, ON
Nov.19, 2001



Mr. Mayencourt,

I understand that you are considering recommending that BC implement a registered domestic partnership (RDP) regime in your province.

It is shocking to see your lack of understanding (surely it is not hypocrisy?) on this issue. On the one hand, you march in protest of the brutal murder of Aaron Webster, an attack based on sexual orientation, and yet you are prepared to recommend a practice similar to the Nuremberg Laws, which would legitimize such brutality in the minds of those who feel that gays and lesbians are less worthy of the rights and protections of our fellow citizens.

Shame on you!

I am fighting such ignorance and prejudice (and internalized homophobia) in the courts in Ontario with my spouse Joe Varnell, whom I married at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. Your own sense of humanity would be well-served if you bothered to read the material presented at the trial.

Douglas Elliott, the lawyer representing our church, reminded the court of the purpose [of] the morally corrupt proposal you are prepared to back, and we are prepared to oppose:

"When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, it was not because she thought that the seats were less comfortable back there or because she would take longer to reach her destination. It was because she knew it was wrong. She knew it was an outward and visible symbol of a traditional system of beliefs that characterized her as a second class citizen, in fact, as a lesser human being."

Sincerely,

Kevin Bourassa
Toronto, ON
Nov.19, 2001


Dear Lorne,
I am extremely frightened by the prospect of RDP's. Flip back 60 years to Germany, where we homosexuals were forced to register. I realize we are not being forced to register (Registered Different Partnerships?) yet, but historically, at first, the government asks for voluntary
registry, then they encourage us, then they coerce us, then they march us, then they incinerate us. How convenient to set it up under the guise of something celebratory, here and now in B.C.. What a dangerous farce!

Please honour our right as equal citizens to have equal access to marriage in honouring our love -- not in marking it as anything different
from any other love. And certainly not by paving the way for setting us up as a marked group.
Sincerely,

(Ms.) Robin Alys Roberts
Victoria, B.C.
Nov, 19, 2001


Mr. Mayencourt,

I am trying to understand how Registered Domestic Partnership would help grant equality for gays and lesbians in Canada.

As I was growing up my dream was to marry the person that I love nothing less. It took me many years to come to this stage in my life where I know I belong equally as my siblings and friends. Settling for anything less would put me back several years. Are we fighting to be less than who we are or are we fighting to fully express our uniqueness as equal members of this society?

It is time we stand in unison and believe within our hearts that this is right, that we are valued members of this society, that my love is as equally valid and that my commitment to Barbara will be honored and validated the same way that my siblings marriages were honored and validated in front of my family and friends. Or am I missing something?

If we propose RDP would we not just be settling for second best? Is that the message we want to send to the world, to Canadians? Are we still prepared to sit at the back of the bus or are we prepared to take a stance and choose where we want to sit?

How does equality fit into this?

I know that both Barb & I want to live in world that accepts us equally not just tolerates us. As Ghandi once said "We must be the change we want to see happen in the world." Is the change we want to see equality? or am I mistaken?

Regards,
Gail Donnelly (Ontario Civil Applicant)
Toronto, Ontario

Nov.19, 2001


Dear Lorne,

I couldn't agree more with Kevin Bourassa's perspective on what you are proposing (RDPs). My wife, Gail Donnelly and I spent the week in court alongside Kevin and his husband, Joe Varnell as well as our fellow applicant couples and numerous supporters. RDPs are nothing better than second class status. I wonder if the shoe were on the other foot how that proposition would be welcomed?

We live in the 21st century andI would surely hope that since September 11, that we have learned was is of utmost importance. We must welcome home all those who have been disenfranchised and marginalized. We must love and respect all life, equally. Just ask Nelson Mandela about Apartheid!

I will no longer live outside the protection and the freedom that everyone else is entitled to in this wonderful country. RDPs are nothing more than pandering to fear and ignorance. I belong here, equally, alongside my 5 brothers and sisters. I deserve to celebrate my love in the same way that they have been able to celebrate their's - openly, joyfully and publicly.

I would suggest that you really get down and speak to members of the gay, lesbian, bissexual and transgender community. As the Globe and Mail's wonderful tag line says, "It's o.k. to have an opinion, but is it informed?"

I would caution you to take the time to consider what you are proposing from more than one perspective.

I will not sit in the back seat of the bus marked "Registered Domestic Partnership".Last Time, I checked, my name wasn't Rosa Parks!

peace and light,
Barbara Mcdowall
Toronto, ON
Nov. 19, 2001



Mr. Mayencourt:

On behalf of the gay and lesbian community in Montréal, we would like to thank you for your interest in the grave issues that are before our brothers and sisters in British Columbia. Your presence at the commemoration service for Mr Aaron Webster yesterday was noted and widely commented, across Canada and around the world.

However, we are writing you today to ask that you rethink your position on the semi-legalisation of civil equality for homosexual couples. What you propose, registered domestic partnership, what we in the community call "equality-lite", is not a social advance for us as you apparently think. Rather, it is a certification that we are, in reality, half-citizens, people that do not merit equal treatement under the law because of our sexual orientation.

The final result of such half-measures in recognising our humanity is to encourage just the kind of violent hatred that you publicly deplored on Sunday at the service. Why would anyone bother to respect us, grant us the dignity that all citizens enjoy, stop attacking us physically and verbally,when even the members of the BC legislature, under the guise of
"liberalism", do not see us as worthy of full citizenship.

Thus, we request that you propose to your collegues that we be recognised as full Canadian citizens, that our couples be given the right to civil marriage, with the same protections as any other Canadian couple in love.

Very sincerely yours,

Michael Hendricks and René LeBoeuf
Montréal, Québec
Nov. 19, 2001


Dear Lorne Mayencourt,

It has been brought to my attention that you are proposing a
Registered Domestic Partnership (RDP) to the Provincial government in lieu of supporting Same-Sex Marriages in BC. I'm sure you're well aware of the limitations of such a proposal, to say nothing of the fact it isn't really a marriage. Perhaps you feel by proposing the RDP you will look good to our (gay/lesbian) community, while not jeopardizing your position or the Liberal Party within the ranks of its conservative membership (read: homophobic). Liberal indeed.

Same Sex Legal Marriages should be a choice for any gay man or lesbian who wants to legalize and sanctify their relationship by this Act. It does not infringe upon anyone else in our community, or any other community, who does not agree with marriages. It constitutes a free choice to live our lives as we wish. This choice is freely available to heterosexual people who either can or don't have to marry as they so choose. Until the queer community has this same
right, we are not equal.

We are not equal anyway, as you well know. This weekend's horrendous murder is an example of how we are targeted just for being who we are. We have to ensure that we are equal in the eyes of the law in every aspect of our lives, including marriage.

It is up to us, and to our politicians, particularly those who are openly gay in cabinet, to work toward making us free and equal people in this society. Without those rights, we have to live our lives less than our neighbours, co-workers, family, straight friends. We have to do with second best (RDP's).

This is not a 6 person campaign. There are many many people in the gay and lesbian community here and elsewhere in the province who support, who want to see marriage available to gays and lesbians, EVEN IF THEY DO NOT WISH IT FOR THEMSELVES. I know this from many
discussions on the subject. XtraWest's position on this is not
representative of our community, although, being the only gay and lesbian newspapers, it carries a louder voice than individuals.

Your constituency has had a history of politicians, gays and lesbians working together to establish rights and safety in the queer community. This constituency is looking to it's new MLA, you, to continue this work.

We hope you are listening. As one speaker said at yesterday's memorial for Aaron Webster," no more platitudes, we want concrete action NOW."

Please listen to those who support you. Work toward legalizing same-sex marriage.

Pat Hogan
Vancouver, BC
Nov.19, 2001


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