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Married in Canada

Married in Canada


My partner, Brian, and I are celebrating our 20th wedding

anniversary this year. We married in the Metropolitan Community Church in 1985 with a "Holy Union." We were married legally two years ago, when same-sex marriage became legal in several Canadian provinces. Our friends Katherine and Chuck, the

parents of my godson Michael and goddaughter Kate, were our witnesses as we became the first gay couple in history to marry in a United Church of Canada. Still, we count our Holy Union as our wedding day; in 1985 we had no intention of waiting for the laws to catch up with our marriage.

This summer, though, they finally did. On July 20 Canada's acting head of state signed into law Bill C-38, which changes the legal definition of marriage from "a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others" to "two persons."

In the preceding months the tone from the religious and political right had become increasingly shrill and desperate. They were losing the battle to make gay marriage a "moral issue" about "family values." The Canadian people, represented by the Liberal Party of Canada, saw the right of gays and lesbians to marry as an issue of equal human rights, not morals. What's more, gays and lesbians weren't asking for "acceptance" or even "tolerance." We were altering the legal landscape itself.

On the night the bill was passed, Brian and I watched with wonder the spectacle of right-wing Christian politicians--who had previously worn their arrogant homophobia like biblical armor--begging for the right to continue denying gays and lesbians full equality under Canadian law. They snapped their jaws like confused monsters magically deprived of their prey.

But in the end it wasn't magic, it was just decency and common sense--very Canadian virtues. The Conservative Party of Canada, with its fundamentalist base, has been sent a message: Canada has no wish to become a direct-to-video version of the United States under George W. Bush. We stand in solidarity with American gays and lesbians. We welcome them to marry here. It's likely that our new law will draw our communities together even as it polarizes Canada and the United States politically.

The religious right was correct on one point: Same-sex marriage really is about "family values," only not the way they mean. It's about raising children in a country where gays and lesbians are fully part of their families, where prejudice and cruelty are called to account. It's about knowing that "the true north strong and free" means strength and freedom for everyone.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Michael Rowe