Couples - Queer Marriage Challenge|
Bios of B.C. couples from 2001
Melinda Roy and Tanya Chambers
describe themselves as small-town girls. They have been together for six years.
They say they want to live the dream that many people have - to get married, have
a house with the white picket fence, one day have a child of their own and then
grow old together.
"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 licence. . . Marriage is morally and spiritually
important to me. I want our children to 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."
"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 me feel inferior. I don't believe
that people will truly take gay and lesbian relationships seriously until we are
allowed to get married."
Robin Roberts, the author of several boating books, and Diana Denny, a registered nurse who helped design wooden toys and climbing equipment for 13 years. They raised four children during their 17 years together; both were previously married. (Vancouver Sun, July 24, 2001)
"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."
we been able to marry, ...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."
Tess Healy and Wendy Young, who are also involved in the court case, celebrated their relationship with a "commitment ceremony" in Prince George last August, which was conducted by an Anglican priest.
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."
"I feel as if publicly committing
to Wendy as my life partner has taken our relationship to new and even deeper
levels," says Healy, who was born in Ireland and has two grown daughters.
“It’s a very simple thing,
says Theresa. “Marriage is an institution in our society that has all these legal,
social, cultural, religious, political benefits attached to it and there are a
whole group of people out there who don’t have those rights. That’s discrimination
and that’s wrong under the Charter of Rights.”
"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."
Shane McCloskey, a 27-year-old market researcher, and David Shortt, a 26-year-old
Web site designer. They have been together four years. "Our relationship is not
second-rate but that is how we are made to feel as long as marriage is denied
to us," says Shortt.
"It is the government and the courts that sometimes tend to lag behind public
opinion." Mr. McCloskey, a 28-year-old market researcher, said his desire to marry
Mr. Shortt is a civil-rights issue. : "This is the last real right that gay people
have not achieved," Mr. McCloskey said. "And it's significant because [marriage]
says these people -- these gay people -- are actually members of society."
Added Mr. Shortt: "How many times have you heard 'I believe in equal rights for gay people' and then in the next breath, they're saying, 'I don't support gay marriage' ? "
Mr. McCloskey, whose family has difficulty accepting his homosexuality, said part of his desire to wed is to lend legal legitimacy to the way he lives.
"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... / 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.
"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 thought 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
"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 me, marriage will represent
a recognition of the value of our relationship and the freedom to fulfill our
us the right to marry sends the message that our relationship is less deserving
of recognition just because we are gay," says Bob Peacock . "Thirty-two years
seems like an awfully long time to be engaged," adds Lloyd Thornhill.
"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.... 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."
Read some of Lloyd's writing on what it's like to be gay and Christian
View the Affidavit of the above 5 couples (WARNING! 56 page document.)
"We want the right to be an ordinary, unremarkable married couple with children,"
says Dawn Barbeau, who with her partner Elizabeth is one of the couples involved
in the legal action. "Having the state sanction our relationship with a marriage
licence will diminish intolerance, hate crimes and violence."
"We want to be married in the full legal sense," adds Elizabeth Barbeau. "A union between two people is stronger when it is public and receives the affirmation of the community."
couple is Murray Warren and Peter Cook. They have a foster son, Brent Power, who
begins studies in the fall at the University of B.C. The son said in an affidavit
filed in court: "My life began when I met my parents, the life I had been waiting
all those years for. I'm not a person who cries, but my eyes water sometimes and
my voice becomes gravelly when I think of all they helped me escape."
Hamilton was born and raised in Ontario and later lived in St. Louis, Phoenix,
NYC, Cochrane AL, Castlegar, BC and on Saltspring Island BC before settling permanently
in Vancouver. She has two daughters, Sarah and Meghann, now 23 and 20. Hamilton,
writing as JA Hamilton or Jane Eaton Hamilton, is the award-winning author of
four books, whose stories and articles have been published widely in such periodicals
as Maclean's, Seventeen, The New York Times and Canadian
Joy Masuhara was born and raised in Vancouver. She is a family physician who specializes in community mental health work. She is an administrator at the Mid-Main Community Health Centre and also works as a school physician at two East Vancouver high schools. She is a clinical assistant professor with the Faculty of Medicine, UBC. Joy is a breast cancer survivor and paddles with the dragon boat team, Abreast in a Boat. Joy and Jane have been together for eight years. Joy adopted Jane's biological children in 1997.
From Jane's affidavit:
Adoption could not give us all that I want and have a right to enjoy. I also want to be married. I want society to witness our covenant and understand that ours is a vital, entrenched union. If we win the right to marry, we will still be marginalized in public opinion, but eventually the legislation will trickle down and have a salutary effect. I get hurt when heterosexuals friends get married after knowing each other six months or a year or two years. Joy and I have been partners for eight years - how long do we have to wait?
From Joy's affidavit:
do not consider myself an activist. I try to live my life honestly and openly
and with compassion for others. If by knowing me as a woman, an Asian, a lesbian,
people can become more accepting of others' differences, this is a good thing.
I sense that homophobia lingers amongst my family and friends, mostly in subtle
ways. I wonder if in being able to marry we would gain more acceptance from others.
I want to marry Jane. We have shared the last eight years. We