Thanking Canada for letting them marry, the Reverend Troy Perry and his longtime partner, Phillip De Blieck, exchanged vows Wednesday in a tearful ceremony at a Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto. Perry founded the worldwide MCC in Los Angeles in 1968. The couple, who have been together for 18 years, traveled to Toronto because Ontario is one of two Canadian provinces that have legalized gay marriage under recent court rulings. After the 15-minute ceremony attended by 80 friends and spectators, Perry said he would encourage same-sex couples from south of the border to get married in Ontario or British Columbia to strengthen the gay marriage movement in the United States. "I thank God for Canada, for the progressive judges who did this," Perry said. "You beat us all the way around."
Perry predicts the change in Canada, expected to become federal law by the time Prime Minister Jean Chretien steps down in February, will spur the acceptance of gay and lesbian marriage in the United States within five years. The ceremony included an exchange of wedding bands and the declaration by
each partners to take the other as his "lawfully wedded spouse." Perry, 63, wept while reciting his pledge.