Selection Of Your Comments
September 2, 2003
I am searching my soul for the answer on this debate. I have gay and lesbian friends, and support them in being able to legalize a loving union, and be eligible for many of the legal benefits afforded to "married "couples. There is not enough love in this world, and to have more people declare commitment and faith in each other cannot be a bad thing. There are also millions of children who need love in this world, and any person kind enough to accept one into their home and love them as if they were their own can again only make the world a better place.
On the other side of the fence, my husband and I were recently blessed with a baby girl - and I cannot begin to describe how I feel about my "family". Building our family has been an expression of our faith - as our faith has made it possible to build our family - it is a difficult thing to explain - but precious to us none the less.
There are many places where men and women are different but equal - is there a place where homosexual and heterosexual couples could also be different but equal? I must say that I am concerned about some of the arguments that label some very kind and generous people bigots because they hold dearly to their faith - where marriage is a sacrament - equally serious as baptism and communion.
I am one for tolerance and respect for the individual- of religious beliefs, and of lifestyle choices. Do you see any solution that balances these concerns? What if the "legal" term for marriage was a Legal union - but the religious choice of a marriage could still remain for those who wish to have the union recognized within their faith.
Thank you for your time, I am interested in hearing your opinion. Again I personally struggle with the concepts.
Different but equal is a concept that has been rejected by courts in the U.S. and Canada. Inequalities can only result from segregation. Ending civil marriage (and reserving marriage for the exclusive use of churches) would be equality with a vengeance. Why force opposite-sex couples to give up civil marriage, simply to keep same-sex couples from having access? Besides, this would require a constitutional amendment in Canada: an extreme measure and highly difficult to accomplish. Other peoples' families are as precious to them as your own is to you. Congratulations on the arrival of your daughter. We celebrate knowing she will grow up in a world with increased tolerance where she is free to marry the person of her choice.
September 18, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe, My partner Joe and I are very sorry to read about the problems that the US Customs and Immigration officers have caused for you. We were both very surprised to hear that the US officers refused your form when you identified yourselves as a family.
Joe and I, when returning from Toronto on September 1st after getting married on August 28th, also filed our customs form as a family. We were asked if we were brothers, to which we responded that we are husbands. The officer accepted that answer and waved us on.
I wonder if it makes any difference that we are U.S. citizens and (I assume) that you are Canadian citizens?
We wish you the best of luck on this issue. Lets all pray that the U.S. government comes to its senses sooner rather than later.
Andrew Bertke and
Yes we are both Canadian citizens. We suspect that it all depends on the customs agent you happen to get. Thanks for your support - and congratulations on your marriage!
Dear Kevin and Joe:
Albert and I wish to commend you on your principled stand at Customs. Again, while simply demanding justice, you may again have to take the US government as well as Canada's to task for this new lack of toleration.
My widowed mother, who will be 90 next month, is a spry retired teacher ... Sharp and alert, she told me that she was sorry that my father and she immigrated to the US - to raise me in a land of intolerance and injustice. This nation has a history of its cruelty to African Americans and Native Peoples. Albert is a Cherokee and Choctaw Native Person.
I hope that the Canadian Gouvernment sends a letter of complaint to the United States Government. You are right, our Canadian marriage is an issue with our nation- but you are Canadian citizens. Of course, the supervisor may have been a far right homophobe who was translating his regulations to suit his prejudices. After all, Canada has passed two bills that will take at least a decade to equally pass in our nation.
You are both in my prayers,
Raymond E. Sawyer,
September 18, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe.
I've just read with horror your denial of entry into the US on a visa marking you as a family. As an American, I extend my deepest apology on the inappropriate disrespect my country showed to the two of you, and I believe you made the right choice in staying put. Although American, I am actually half Canadian, and over the past few months, my mother's country (to this day she's retained her citizenship, God bless her), has done nothing but make me proud. Dual citizenship certainly looks appealing.
Your fight, I know, continues, and we anxiously look on with great excitement. Those of us in the US have been following very closely our Canadian brothers and sisters in your recent victory for marriage rights, and we are at once ecstatic for you, while at the same time regretful that ours is not necessarily the home of the free, and must wait for that freedom. Keep up the good work, and hope to see you in the states soon, and on a visa that's marked "Family."
September 19, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe,
My Husband and I were married in Toronto on June 15'th. I am a native Torontonian, and we now live in Boston (I am a permanent resident of the US).
I was completely disgusted when I read your account of what happened at US customs. The same thing happened to us (before we were married), but at the immigration (INS) counter. My husband, Doug, who also happens to be a US immigration attorney, made a fuss and actually received an apology from the station chief of the INS. It is the INS policy at Pearson to recognize gay households, and the INS officer was spoken with. I have heard though, from another INS agent, that while they're cool about gay families, the Customs folks are less predictable. It seems each agency has it's own culture.
Kudos to you both for being principled, and I hope that the US (or at least Massachusetts) will soon recognize all of our rights as well!
Jack Z. Gilad & Douglas D. Hauer
We are waiting, with hope, for the Massachusetts decision too. Congratulations on your marriage, with thanks for your encouragement.
September 19, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe:
I'm David Levine, and my lover (Ira Tobert) married in Toronto in July. We both live in Brooklyn, New York. I read about how you two were denied entry in the United States to attend the Human Rights Conference. I really admire your courage in not sacrificing your convictions for the sake of convenience. It takes alot of guts.
September 19, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe,
I'm sorry and ashamed that the U.S. barred your entry as a family. The claim that they did so solely on the basis of U.S. law is disingenuous at best -- I suspect a member of the Saudi royal family could list five wives on the form and they'd all be admitted without difficulty.
I hope your government will make at least a bit of a fuss with the U.S. government.
By the way, Elaine and I were married in Toronto in July. Even though we expected difficulty from the U.S. immigration people, on our way home to North Carolina we used a single customs form at Pearson on July 27. We had no problem whatsoever ... I suspect the U.S. government hadn't gotten around to developing its new harassment policy yet. Now I suppose we'll have to reconsider our plans to return to Toronto for our first anniversary, if that means being insulted when we're ready to return to the U.S.
Continuing best wishes, and gratitude to you both. You're personal heroes for you past and ongoing efforts.
We hope that gay and lesbian couples will be allowed to travel freely and openly between our two countries.
September 19, 2003
Mr. Bourassa and Mr. Varnell:
Today I read an article on the BBC website (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3122632.stm) explaining your plight in attempting to enter the United States without sacrificing your devotion to the marriage you share. Let me pass along to you the message that I wrote to many of the people in Oklahoma City that share some of your convictions and who would appreciate the sentiments I have written below. I have similarly written to the Ambassador of the United States to Canada and the embassy’s representative with essentially the same sentiments. Please know that the actions of some immigration officials do not represent the feelings of all Americans, or even most Americans. While the majority of this country is fundamentalist Christian and opposes many of the things that you or I may stand for, even they would hesitate to deny people who do support such values from entering our country based simply on a difference of opinion or way of life. The following is a copy of my writings:
“As if it wasn't already bad enough that some legislators blather on about creating a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, now our customs officers and border patrol are denying entry into the United States for same-sex spouses from other countries!! What possible reasonable or rational basis can be given for denying these couples entry based on their marital status in their home country? Are we afraid that they might provide an example of how wrong-minded some of the arguments against the expansion of the institution of marriage to GLBT couples are? Are we afraid that they might provide more fodder for the growing incredulity with which the GLBT community and general population in our own country view the discriminatory rights heterosexuals have when it comes to marriage? Are we scared that a single married gay couple, or even hundred of them, could subvert our entire fundamentalist-Christian-controlled social order by a short visit to our country? How is it that we can stand by and let our official representatives (i.e. U.S. Embassy officials) in other nations excuse such actions by saying "the US can definitely do what it wants", citing our rights as a sovereign nation to decide how to control our borders, while at the same time we are trampling on those same sovereign rights of the people of Iraq? This is a sickening state of affairs, and one that only illustrates the depths to which our hypocrisy has reached and the depths to which fundamentalist Christian values have permeated and now dominate every aspect of our social order.
In my many travels to our "neighbor to the north", it has always upset me to experience the vast difference in the way I'm treated when entering Canada, versus the way I'm treated when entering the United States. The harassment, rudeness, and now exclusiveness and discrimination perpetrated by our customs officers and border patrol stands in stark contrast to the common courtesy and helpfulness of their Canadian counterparts. Every time I cross from Canada into the United States, I wonder in amazement at the level of hostility that my fellow countrymen and women show me, and know that as bad an experience as it is for me, a law-abiding, tax-paying, heterosexual, Caucasian, male, American citizen, it is magnitudes worse for non-citizens and those that do not share my background crossing into our country. If our treatment of citizens of other nations is so horrible in such a low-stakes, simple, routine event as a border crossing, is it any wonder that most of the world's population has such contempt and hatred for our country? As unendurable an experience as crossing the border is for our Canadian friends at times, I cannot imagine how much more insufferable it must be for those from countries with which we do not share such a relationship.
I, for one, am fed up with this being the status quo. Heretofore I have remained silent on such issues. This is only the second time I have even ventured to opine to this group. No more. Events such as this, the war in Iraq, the Bush administration in almost every act, the recall in California, and the redistricting in Texas have pushed me to the point where standing idly by and unhappily watching events unfold around me is no longer an option. I’m starting with this note to all of you and continuing by contacting the Ambassador in Ottawa, Paul Cellucci and Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell and encourage each of you to do the same. I also look forward to the opportunity to be more active in some of the many organizations here in Oklahoma that stand for many of the things I believe in. Hopefully I will meet some of you in the process.”
Good luck Kevin and Joe! There are Americans that support you and your work for gay marriage, even here in Oklahoma in the heart of the “Bible Belt”.
Erik R. Derr
Your action shows how change begins by taking personal ownership for doing something to contribute. Thank you for your support.
September 19, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe:
When we read the newspaper article on your problems crossing into the USA as a Canadian married couple, we were both shocked and dismayed. A few weeks ago I read about your exciting trip and wished we could be part of it. I know that this trip was very important to both of you, however it is quite apparent that you will be the talk of the conference. You have done more to make our fight visable than you could ever have accomplished by a few words on a panel discussion. You have proven once again that you are people of high principle and integrity and we are proud to be your friends. You have refused to go to the back of the bus and in doing so others will soon sit where they wish.BRAVO!!!
September 23, 2003
Dear Kevin and Joe,
I happened upon your website late at night, a time where I often feel sad and alone, and like I can make no difference on this earth... However, tonight, I had my faith in person-kind renewed.
I have been following the same sex marriage debate in the news over the passing months, hoping a victory for all would be swift, but as with most things, it seems it isn't to be.
I grew up in rural Alberta, where gun racks and curtains are mainstays in pick up trucks. Where "girly" boys are beat, and tomboy girls are raped. I (thank the Goddess) moved away, enlightened myself through education, and have known the love of men and women (yes, the proverbial fence sitter).
Over the past week, I have come to learn that many of the people I call friends (and some family) are opposed to same sex unions (hence part of the reason I was so down when I found your site). I can't seem to get my loved ones to see the forest for the trees. They quote scripture (which is ironic considering the last time any were in church was when Gramma died 10 years ago), and quote how society is losing morals and ethics, and they site the breakdown of the family unit. Others worry about the (potential) children that may be raised in "these" homes.
I was beginning to lose faith [in] people-it seems too obvious to me, yet they all seem so oblivious. I didn't know what I could do to help, and in some ways I am still not sure. But one thing I do know is what I believe, and thanks to your website, I realized that.
I know I can help by writing letters to my government, and although I am sure that Mr. Ralph Klein will never pay any attention, at least I know that I stood up for what I believe in.
Thank you once again for revitalizing my faith in person-kind.
Congratulations on taking a stand. Although it is still a struggle, we are confident that marriage will be available to gay and lesbian couples through-out Canada in the near future. But your help is required in order to make that happen. We encourage everyone to join this effort by writing or calling your local and national political representatives, including the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister and your local Member of Parliament. Consider a donation to one or any of the marriage cases in Canada to help pay for legal expenses. Participate in local initiatives, or start one yourself. As your letter illustrates, however we partake in our own liberation, the journey, even with all its struggles, can be as rewarding as the destination. Thank you for getting involved.
September 23, 2003
I enjoyed reading your site and had to write to relate a similar experience. In late August/early September I traveled to Vancouver with my partner of 10 years, David, and our three children. Upon entry to Canada we were queried as to the nature of our relationship to one another and we stated that we were a family. We were permitted to enter without fanfare or further questioning and enjoyed a memorable visit to your fair country. However, upon our return to the USA we were required to run the same gauntlet of US Immigration and Customs officials that you encountered. We did as requested, having filled out one Customs form per family, but this was not acceptable to the official who required me to complete my own form before allowing me to proceed. My partner inquired of me why we were required to do this. I replied, in front of the examiner that, in the eyes of the laws of our country, we were not considered a family. She offered some lame excuse that went something like, "If this was Atlanta there wouldn't have been any problem,"?!? Puzzled at the reply, busy with 3 young children and wanting to get home we left the long line, completed another simple customs form and proceeded to another official who quickly processed us through.
In retrospect I wish I had had the fortitude to stand my ground, but given the current state of legal affairs relating to same sex relationships, not to mention the legendary ability of border officials to become "officious", I/we felt compelled to submit to an act that, albeit minor, demeaned our family. In some ways I lament the fact that we didn't become married in British Columbia during our brief visit so that we could return and challenge the justice and wisdom of our laws. That may yet happen if reason fails here in the USA and states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey disappoint those of us who were raised to value "liberty and justice for all."
We can't imagine how we would respond to such situations with three children in our care! By your daily example in the community, your family is changing the world.
September 24, 2003
I am a friend of a lesbian couple who wish to be married. I recognise you're lawyers so you could best advice me on what to tell them.
One partner is 19, one is 16. They wish to come to Ontario to be legally married. I'm pretty sure they will NOT have the parents consent on the grounds of the 16 year old finishing school, which I will personally make sure she does since the three of us agree this is a common goal and is essential for her future.
What all would be involved here, what are the chances of success, and ANY other advice, opinions you can off would be greatly appreciated. The website has been a very valuable resource.
Actually, we're not lawyers, but some of our very best friends are! We sent your email to the Bruce E. Walker Law Office for a response:
The Marriage Act for Ontario prohibits the marriage of anyone in Ontario under the age of majority except where the minor is of the age of sixteen years or more and has the consent in writing of both parents in the form prescribed by the regulations or the minor is a widow, widower, or divorced. Every person attains the age of majority and ceases to be a minor in Ontario on attaining the age of eighteen years. Where one of the parents of the minor is dead or if the parents have separated there is provision for the parent having actual or legal custody of the minor to give the required consent. If both parents are dead then there is provision for either a lawfully appointed guardian or an acknowledged guardian who for the three years immediately preceding the intended marriage has supported the minor. So, the legislation is quite clear. The requisite consent is required for a minor to marry in Ontario. There is provision for an Application to Dispense with Consent whereby the minor may apply to a judge without the intervention of a litigation guardian for an order dispensing with consent where a person whose consent is required is not available or unreasonably or arbitrarily withholds consent. The usual cost of such a application can be expected to be some $2,000.00 to $5,000.00. The B.C. legislation can be expected to be similar, but you might get in touch with a lawyer in B.C. just to make sure.