The Reverend Troy Perry, founder and leader of the nation's oldest and largest gay church, is heading to Toronto to legally marry his partner of 18 years. Perry, who founded the Metropolitan Community Churches in Los Angeles in 1968, said he will marry Phillip Ray DeBlieck at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on July 16 in a private ceremony. After the Ontario court of appeal ruled in May that restricting marriage to heterosexuals was discriminatory and unconstitutional, the Canadian government agreed to allow gays and lesbians the right to legal marriage. Since that decision, numerous gay couples from the United States have traveled to the Canadian province to join in wedlock. "One of the desires of my heart is to legally marry [Phillip] before I die," Perry said. "We've always said that to each other, and we finally have the chance to do it."
Perry predicted that the new Canadian policy would result in gay marriage in the United States within five years. He sued California in 1970 on behalf of two lesbians who wanted to marry. "We lost that suit and that battle, but we didn't lose the war," he said. Perry is known for regular and public protests against laws that prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying and obtaining the many legal protections that come with marriage.