VANDYK m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-10-14 published
MONGRAIN / VANDYK
Gaston and Alice MONGRAIN of London together with Andrew and Josephine VANDYK of Strathroy are pleased to announce the engagement of their children, Renée MONGRAIN and Jody VANDYK. A spring wedding in London is planned.

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VANDYK m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-10-21 published
MORGRAIN / VANDYK -- Engagement
Gaston and Alice MONGRAIN of London together with Andrew and Josephine VANDYK of Strathroy are pleased to announce the engagement of their children, Renée MONGRAIN and Jody VANDYK. A spring wedding in London is planned.

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VANGOOR m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-03-18 published
VANGOOR, Anna and Bert - 50th Anniversary
Family and Friends are invited to attend an Open House, Sun. March 26, 2: 30-4:30 p.m. honouring our parents 50th Anniversary At Saint_John the Divine Parish Hall, 390 Baseline Road, London, Ontario. Best Wishes Only Please.

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VANGOU m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2003-09-20 published
VANGOU, Angelo and Sandra - Happy 50th Anniversary Congratulations and love from your family.

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VANHARN m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-09-13 published
SAWATZKY / VANHARN - Engagement
It is with great pleasure that Case and Barbara VANHARN announce the engagement of Carrie VANHARN, daughter of Case and the late Catherine VANHARN to David SAWATZKY, son of the late Henry SAWATZKY and the late Agatha SAWATZKY. The wedding will take place at Saint John's Anglican Church, Saint Thomas on Saturday September 20th, 2003.

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VANLONDERSELE m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-11-29 published
APPLETON / STELLER
Linda VANLONDERSELE and David APPLETON of London are proud to announce the upcoming marriage of their daughter Gwendolyn APPLETON to Robert STELLER, son of Jim and Jane STELLER of Baden. The wedding will take place December 19th, 2003 at Forest City National Golf Club, London.

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VANLUIT m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-10-14 published
VANDERGOOT, Jerry and Diane (VANLUIT) - Happy 30th Anniversary
October 15, 1976-2006
We thank God for all the blessings he has given Mom and Dad over the years.
Love from your family: Judy and her husband Matthew, Josie and her husband Nick, Jacci, Eddie and granddaughter Ally.

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VANMEURS m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2005-07-16 published
STELPSTRA, Keith and Margaret (DEVRIES) - 50th wedding anniversary
1955 July 16 2005
With joy and thanksgiving to God we, are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary with our children Joanne and John HUITSING, Edmonton, Alberta; Teresa and Jeff LINKER, London, Ontario; Marjorie and Rick VANMEURS, Stratford, Ontario; Keith and Christina STELPSTRA, Kelowna, British Columbia and our 16 grandchildren.

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VANNECK m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2003-07-26 published
FUNG / STENNETT -- Christina Po-Shan FUNG and Scott Paul STENNETT were united in marriage at Metropolitan United Church in Toronto on Saturday, June 14, 2003 at 2 p.m. The Reverend John Joseph MASTANDREA, minister of Metropolitan United Church officiated. The bride is the daughter of Ms. Lily CHAN of Toronto and Mr. Paul FUNG of Hong Kong. The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ron STENNETT of Blenheim. Maid of honour was Elka LEUNG. Bridesmaids were Phyllis CHEUNG and Juliana LEUNG. Best man was Donald WATTS. Groomsmen were Devon MALTBY and Jason PARDO. Ryleigh VANNECK was the flower girl. Oliver CHAN, cousin of the bride, was the ring bearer. A dinner reception was held at Atlantis Pavilions in Toronto. The bride is a Senior Project Manager at TD Bank Financial Group in Toronto. The groom is a Vice President at Richardson Partners Financial Limited in Mississauga. Following their honeymoon trip to Italy, the couple now resides in Toronto.

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VANNOORD m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-09-13 published
VANNOORD / WEDZINGA
John and Liz VANNOORD, Saint Thomas, are happy to announce the forthcoming marriage of their daughter Terri-Lynn to Brian William, son of Andy and Helen WEDZINGA, Thorndale. The wedding will take place Saturday, September 27, 2003 at two o'clock at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, London, Ontario.

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VANNULAND m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-05-10 published
50th Wedding Anniversary, Joe and Jean VANNULAND
Open House Saturday, May 17th, from 2pm-4pm at Saint Mary's Parish Hall, 132 Pioneer Line, West Lorne, Ontario. Best wishes only, please.
Also celebrating 50 years in Canada.

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VANOORSPRONK m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-11-29 published
VANOORSPRONK, Jo and Jopie - Happy 50th Anniversary
Please join us in celebrating our parents anniversary at an Open House on Saturday, December 6, 2003 2: 00-4:00 p.m.
Free Reformed Church, 145 St. George Street, Saint Thomas, Ontario

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VANOS m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-05-17 published
Corrie VANOS and Michael WORBY
Were married in the Dominican Republic on April 30, 2003. Their families join together to wish them joy and happiness in their lives together and thank all their Friends who helped to make this an exceptionally wonderful occasion.

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VANOS m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-05-17 published
Peter and Nellie VANOS, 50th Anniversary
Open House -Saturday, May 24th, 2003
Delaware Community Centre
Family and Friends welcome.
Best Wishes only.

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VANOS m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-09-06 published
VANOS, Tony and Bep - Happy 50th Anniversary
September 1953 - 2003
Family, Friends and neighbours are invited to an Open House in honour of our parents at Taxandria, Arkona on Sat., September 13, 2003 from 3-5 pm. No gifts please, your presence will be our cherished gift. Love from your children.

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VANVLIET m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-09-16 published
VANVLIET, Pat and Tony - 50th Anniversary
September 22, 1956-2006
Celebration The children of Pat and Tony VAN VLIET invite you to an Open House September 23rd, 1-4 p.m. at the Lions Senior Centre Dorchester, Ontario Best Wishes Only.

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VANWENSVEEN m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-03-06 published
Arie and Cornelia DEHOOG
Congratulations on the 50th Wedding Anniversary of
Arie and Cornelia DEHOOG (née VANWENSVEEN) on
March 6, 2003 from your children John (Elly), Jennifer,
Cora (Don), Arie, Tom (Nancy) and grandchildren
Adrienne, Simon, Robin, Katie, Morgan and Kyle.
Thank you for your love and support over the years.
You have shown us that family, faith, honesty, hard
work and education are very important. We pray you
continue to enjoy good health and happiness
for many years to come.

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VARALLO m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-04-08 published
DEL VASTO / VARALLO
Michele and Rosemarie VARALLO and Antonio and Maria DEL VASTO are excited to announce the forthcoming marriage of their children Pasqualino VARALLO and Carla DEL VASTO on July 1, 2006.

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VARLEY m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-02-08 published
Fred and Evelyn VARLEY
Double Celebration
Evelyn VARLEY will celebrate her 90th Birthday on February 15, 2003 and on March 5, Fred and Evelyn will celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary. On behalf of their three daughters - Freida, Willa-May & Eleanor - Friends and family are invited to an Open House on Sat. February 15, 2003 from 1: pm to 3:pm at Fellowship Baptist Church, 67 King Street, Burford. Best wishes only please.

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VARLEY m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-03-18 published
BOLES / VARLEY -- Engagement

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VARNELL m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-06-11 published
Gay marriage is legalized
Ontario appeal court rewrites law, says couples must be given licences
Activists are ecstatic, Ottawa faces tight deadline to decide on appeal
KLEIN rejects ruling, says he'll invoke notwithstanding clause in Alberta
By Kirk MAKIN Justice Reporter; With reports from Mark HUME in Kelowna, and Canadian Press Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - Page A1
The exclusion of gays from the institution of marriage is illogical, offensive and unjustifiable, the Ontario Court of Appeal said yesterday in a historic judgment that makes same-sex marriages legal for the first time in Canada.
The ruling took effect immediately in Ontario -- two gay men were married yesterday in a Toronto court -- increasing the pressure on the federal government to consider legislation on same-sex unions or go to the Supreme Court. A decision on the latter option must be made by June 30.
Alberta Premier Ralph KLEIN boosted the stakes further, saying his province is not about to recognize same-sex marriages as legal, and will invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to override any court ruling recognizing a right to such marriages.
"If there is any move to sanctify and legalize same-sex marriages, we will use the notwithstanding clause, period, end of story," Mr. KLEIN said at the Western Premiers Conference in Kelowna, B.C.
The Ontario court methodically dismantled every argument made before it in support of heterosexual-only marriages. It refused even to permit a grace period for Ontario to bring its laws into conformity with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Courts in British Columbia and Quebec have also struck down marriage laws, but gave the governments time to rewrite their legislation.
The Ontario judges said denying same-sex marriage is tantamount to declaring homosexuals a lesser order of being, helping to perpetuate an impression that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming loving relationships.
"A purpose that demeans the dignity of same-sex couples is contrary to the values of a free and democratic society and cannot be pressing and substantial," said Chief Justice Roy McMURTRY, Mr. Justice James MacPHERSON and Madam Justice Eileen GILLESE.
"Same-sex couples are capable of forming long, lasting, loving and intimate relationships. A law that prohibits same-sex couples from marrying does not accord with the needs, capacities and circumstances of same-sex couples."
The judges ordered Toronto's city clerk and the provincial registrar-general to issue and accept marriage licences for two couples married under the Christian tradition of publication of banns in 2001 -- Joe VARNELL and Kevin BOURASSA; and Elaine and Anne VAUTOUR -- making them the first gay marriages in the country.
Henceforth, the court ordered the definition of marriage in Ontario to be "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others."
The ruling was the culmination of decades of strategic prodding by gay couples, associations and legal activists. All were ecstatic yesterday over the strength of the Ontario ruling.
"This is why people come to Canada," said Michael LESHNER, who married his partner, Michael STARK, within hours of the ruling. "They marvel at our values. We have sent an unmistakable message that love can conquer all."
"It's a momentous day," said Kyle RAE, a gay Toronto city councillor. "It is a great day for equality in Canada."
A lawyer for the couples, Martha McCARTHY, predicted many more marriages in the days ahead, while the federal government ponders a possible appeal. "The more marriages we get, the more inevitable this is," she said in an interview. "The time to be right is ripe, as Martin Luther KING would say."
Courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have now overturned marriage laws. But the rulings in British Columbia and Quebec did not take effect immediately because they allowed governments until mid-2004 to redraft the laws.
A final clash is now possible before a Supreme Court of Canada bench that has steadily established a reputation for defending gay rights. The federal government has only until June 30 to decide whether to appeal the British Columbia ruling. The Liberal government is also expecting a report this week from a parliamentary committee examining same-sex marriage.
Prime Minister Jean CHRÉTIEN said yesterday Justice Minister Martin CAUCHON is looking at the judgment along with the other rulings, and said it is too early to know whether it will be appealed.
Mr. CAUCHON said Ottawa recognizes it must move quickly toward a "national solution" to the same-sex debate.
"We see the direction that the courts are taking now," Mr. CAUCHON said after a cabinet meeting. "I'm asking for a little bit of time to look at the decision and to come back with a statement."
The Ontario Court of Appeal was not in a mood for patience, and it was not willing to run the risk that provincial legislators would devise wording to circumvent their ruling.
"A temporary suspension allows a state of affairs that has been found to violate standards embodied in the Charter to persist for a time despite the violation," the court said.
It also pointed out that were it simply to render the entire law invalid, gay people would be vulnerable to the wrath of heterosexuals who found themselves temporarily denied the benefits of marriage.
The decision rested on the constitutional right to equality and emphasized the "dignity" of individuals.
Launched by eight same-sex couples, the litigation had targeted a common-law definition of marriage as a union between "one man and one woman." The couples won their challenge in Ontario's Divisional Court, but it, too, suspended its ruling for two years.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal specifically rejected arguments that procreation is an integral pillar of marriage.
"Same-sex couples can choose to have children through adoption, surrogacy and donor insemination," the judges reasoned. "Importantly, procreation and child-rearing are not the only purposes of marriage, or the only reason why couples choose to marry. The opposite-sex requirement in marriage is not rationally connected to the encouragement of procreation and child-rearing."
They said government lawyers offered mere speculation instead of proof to show why the exclusion of same-sex marriages was a valid social objective -- and that the definition of marriage was far from a minimal infringement.
What Canadian think about gay issues
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the right to marry should be extended to same-sex couples.
Recent surveys have produced the following results:
Do you support or oppose gay marriage?
Support Oppose
Males (18-34) 61.2% 33.9%
Females (18-34) 69.2% 22.2%
If the Supreme Court of Canada said that the federal government had to give gays and lesbians the right to be married, do you think that the government should or should not use its power to overrule the court's decision?
Should Should not
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equal rights for women and ethnic and religious minorities and other groups. In your opinion, should the Charter also guarantee rights for gays and lesbians?
Yes No
Note: Graphic does not include respondents who did not know or who refused to answer.
source: Centre For Research And Information On Canada

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VARNELL m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-06-11 published
Same-sex married couples rejoice
Ruling recognizes union of couples married in 2001; others rush to wed
By Estanislao OZIEWICZ Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - Page A4
Toronto -- For Kevin BOURASSA, 45, and Joe VARNELL, 33, becoming Canada's first same-sex married couple is bittersweet, even as advocates call their union a world first.
"Gee, I wish my mom could have seen this," Mr. VARNELL said. "Because of what the court did in Ontario today no mother will ever again not be able to dance at her son's wedding. That's a wonderful thing."
With his "lawfully wedded husband" at his side, Mr. VARNELL said they planned to celebrate by going home, popping a bottle of champagne and cuddling with their cat.
"If you forgive me, I never want to see any of you in my living room again," he said.
The pioneering couple, who were wed on January 14, 2001, and other same-sex couples seeking to be married in civil ceremonies were speaking at a news conference after a historic Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that they have a constitutional right to marriage.
"Canada gets the gold medal for same-sex marriage around the world," said Trent MORRIS, lawyer for the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.
"I would like to congratulate them for being the first same-sex couple married not only in Canada but, as Mr. MORRIS indicated, the first same-sex couple in the world," said Cynthia PETERSON, lawyer for Equality for Gays And Lesbians Everywhere, a national advocacy organization for gays and lesbians.
The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians on April 1, 2001. This year, Belgium became the second country to open marriage to same-sex couples. Unlike its northern neighbour, Belgium did not allow such couples to adopt children.
Mr. VARNELL, an e-commerce consultant, and Mr. BOURASSA, a former bank manager who is now a full-time advocate for marriage equality, were wed at the Metropolitan Community Church before the Dutch law was changed, using an ancient -- and legally valid -- Christian tradition of publication of banns, which amount to a notice of intent to marry. This allowed them to avoid having to get a marriage licence issued by the city.
The hitch, however, has been that whether a marriage in Ontario is preceded by civil licence or by banns, it has to be registered by the province's registrar-general.
Yesterday's court ruling not only ordered the City of Toronto to issue licences to same-sex couples but also told the province to register same-sex marriages. The city complied immediately, and by late yesterday morning had issued licences to several couples, including Ontario Crown attorney Michael LESHNER, 55, who a few hours later married his partner of two decades, Michael STARK, 45, in front of Mr. Justice John HAMILTON of the Ontario Superior Court.
"This is first and foremost a Canadian love story," said Mr. LESHNER, who has been a thorn in the side of the Ontario government for years.
"This is why people come to Canada, because they marvel at our values, and we've sent an unmistakable message that love can conquer all, the love of two good men can defeat everything.... It [homophobia] is dead legally as of today."
The joy and optimism of homosexual groups was tempered by the Ontario government's reluctance to embrace the ruling immediately without reservation.
Attorney-General Norman STERLING told the legislature that he was waiting to hear whether the federal government would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Although municipalities and provinces administer marriages, the federal government is responsible for defining marriage.
"We will, of course, follow what the court says in the decision and follow that to the letter of the law," Mr. STERLING said.
Among those celebrating yesterday were Joyce BARNETT and Alison KEMPER, who also picked up their marriage licences at Toronto City Hall and will marry in July, 2004. The women, both of whom are ordained in the Anglican Church, have been together since Their two children were delighted. "I knew that nobody could say I didn't have a family," said Robbie, 11, who was born to Ms. KEMPER. " Canada has finally figured out it's unfair to deny this to anybody."
His sister Hannah, 17, said she has grown up to find that she is heterosexual. She said she is indebted to her parents for bringing her up "where it's okay to be what you want to be."
The court ruling did not sit well with some religious organizations, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada president Bruce CELEMENGER said the court has fundamentally redefined marriage.
"It is not an appropriate use of the Charter to redefine pre-existing social, cultural and religious institutions," he said.

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VARNELL m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2003-06-11 published
Gay couple married after ruling
Couple celebrates end of 20-year fight
Judges rewrite definition of marriage
Tracey TYLER and Tracy HUFFMAN Staff Reporters
Two gay men said "I do" yesterday, after Ontario's highest court said "they can."
Crown Attorney Michael LESHNER and his long-time partner Michael STARK were married by Mr. Justice John HAMILTON in a hastily arranged ceremony in the jury waiting room of a Toronto courthouse, as a crowd that included everyone from judges to janitors looked on.
Just hours before, the Ontario Court of Appeal rewrote the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, saying denying gays and lesbians the ability to marry offends their dignity, discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and violates their equality rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A unanimous three-judge panel, made up of Chief Justice Roy McMURTRY and justices James MacPHERSON and Eileen GILLESE, then took the issue further than any other court in the world.
Gay and lesbian marriage became legal in Ontario, effective immediately.
"Michael LESHNER, will you please repeat after me," said HAMILTON, as he began the short, civil ceremony. "I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I may not be joined in matrimony to Michael Clifford STARK."
Both men repeated the declaration before pledging their vows.
"I Michael, take you Michael, to be my lawful wedded spouse," said LESHNER. "To have and to hold, from this day forward, whatever circumstances or experiences life may hold for us."
HAMILTON, an Ontario Superior Court judge, asked both men to place rings on each other's fingers, then made it official.
"By the power vested in me by the Marriage Act, I pronounce you Michael, and you Michael -- affectionately known as 'the Michaels' -- to be lawfully wedded spouses."
"You are now married," said HAMILTON, who later said it was "an honour" to perform the ceremony.
LESHNER, 55, and STARK, 45, kissed and popped champagne.
Speaking to reporters, LESHNER said he regards the court's judgment as, "Day One for millions of gays and lesbians around the world" and the culmination of a personal 20-year battle to end "legally sanctioned homophobia."
"I wanted to put a stake through that sucker," he said.
His 90-year-old mother, Ethel, who beamed and sang in her wheelchair, drew her satisfaction on a smaller scale.
"I feel wonderful, if he does. And I'm sure he does -- take a look at his face," she said.
"I can't 'rah, rah, rah.' I'm not the type of person to do that," she said. "I'm just happy my son is happy -- I know he's getting a nice guy."
While LESHNER and STARK are believed to be the first gay couple to wed after same-sex marriage became legal yesterday, they may not be the first gay Ontario couple to be legally married. That distinction appears to fall to two same-sex couples who were married in a double ceremony at Toronto's Metropolitan Community Church in January, 2001.
The appeal court ordered the province to register marriage certificates issued to those couples, Kevin BOURASSA and Joe VARNELL and Elaine and Anne VAUTOUR. The judges also ordered the clerk of the City of Toronto to issue marriage licences to LESHNER and STARK and six other couples whose licence applications were held in abeyance pending a ruling by the courts. The province and the city told the judges during a hearing in April that they would abide by whatever the appeal court decided.
Less clear is where the federal government stands.
Justice Minister Martin CAUCHON told reporters yesterday he believes Members of Parliament should have a say in the debate about same-sex marriage, but the government also sees where courts across the country are heading on the issue.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal and a Quebec Superior Court judge have also ruled the common law definition of marriage violates the Charter's equality provisions, but didn't go as far as Ontario in immediately extending marriage to same-sex couples, preferring instead to give Parliament until July, 2004 to change the law.
The Ontario Court of Appeal said there's no need to wait: Changing the definition of marriage, effective immediately, won't create any public harm.
Federal justice department spokesperson Dorette POLLARD said the government has until September 9 to decide whether to seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In the meantime, the government does not have the option of seeking a court injunction to stop same-sex marriages from taking place, she said.
If a further appeal to the Supreme Court is in the cards, it could return to the Court of Appeal to ask for a stay of yesterday's ruling, effectively putting it in suspension, POLLARD said.
She was unable to say how that would affect same-sex marriages that have already taken place.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, however, had no difficulty expressing an opinion on yesterday's decision.
By reformulating the definition of marriage, the appeal court ignored "centuries of precedent" and rendered "ordinary Canadians' views irrelevant," said Derek ROGUSKY, a vice-president of Focus on the Family, whose interests were represented by The Association for Marriage and the Family in Ontario, an intervenor in the case.
In its decision yesterday, written not by one judge in particular but collectively as "the court," the appeal panel changed the definition of marriage from being "the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman," to "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others."
A person's sense of dignity and self worth can only be enhanced by the recognition that society gives to marriage and denying people in same-sex relationships access to that most basic of institutions violates their dignity, the court said.
"The ability to marry, and to thereby participate in this fundamental societal institution, is something that most Canadians take for granted. Same-sex couples do not; they are denied access to this institution simply on the basis of their sexual orientation."
Preventing same-sex couples from marrying perpetuates the view that they are not capable of forming loving and lasting relationships and not worthy of the same respect and recognition as heterosexual couples, the court added.
It was ruling on an appeal from an Ontario Divisional Court decision last year. The Divisional Court said the common law definition of marriage as an exclusively heterosexual union was unconstitutional, but decided 2-1 to leave it up to Parliament to rewrite the law by July, 2004.
The dissenting judge in that case, Mr. Justice Harry LAFORME, who would have changed the definition immediately, attended yesterday's ceremony.
In its 60-page decision yesterday, the judges systematically disposed of Ottawa's arguments for preserving marriage as a heterosexual domain, saying they were filled with irrelevancies, stereotypes and "circular reasoning."
The government argued that marriage has always been understood as a special kind of monogamous institution that brings the sexes together for the purposes of procreating, raising children and companionship.
That isn't something that lawmakers dreamed up; it predates the law, the government said.
Who invented the concept of marriage doesn't matter, the court said; What does is how gays and lesbians fare under a legal regime that excludes them from the institution.
The government was avoiding the main issue by arguing that marriage "just is" heterosexual and benefits society as a whole, the court said.
"The couples are not seeking to abolish the institution of marriage," wrote the judges. "They are seeking access to it."
With files from Mary GORDON

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VASTO m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-04-08 published
DEL VASTO / VARALLO
Michele and Rosemarie VARALLO and Antonio and Maria DEL VASTO are excited to announce the forthcoming marriage of their children Pasqualino VARALLO and Carla DEL VASTO on July 1, 2006.

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VAUGHAN m@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2003-06-21 published
SMITH / SCHEMBRI Forthcoming Marriage
Barbara and Norman SMITH and Marion VAUGHAN and Mario SCHEMBRI are pleased to announce the forthcoming marriage of their children, Stephanie and Mario. The wedding will take place on July 12, 2003 at Holy Angels Church in Saint Thomas.

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VAUTOUR m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-06-11 published
Gay marriage is legalized
Ontario appeal court rewrites law, says couples must be given licences
Activists are ecstatic, Ottawa faces tight deadline to decide on appeal
KLEIN rejects ruling, says he'll invoke notwithstanding clause in Alberta
By Kirk MAKIN Justice Reporter; With reports from Mark HUME in Kelowna, and Canadian Press Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - Page A1
The exclusion of gays from the institution of marriage is illogical, offensive and unjustifiable, the Ontario Court of Appeal said yesterday in a historic judgment that makes same-sex marriages legal for the first time in Canada.
The ruling took effect immediately in Ontario -- two gay men were married yesterday in a Toronto court -- increasing the pressure on the federal government to consider legislation on same-sex unions or go to the Supreme Court. A decision on the latter option must be made by June 30.
Alberta Premier Ralph KLEIN boosted the stakes further, saying his province is not about to recognize same-sex marriages as legal, and will invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to override any court ruling recognizing a right to such marriages.
"If there is any move to sanctify and legalize same-sex marriages, we will use the notwithstanding clause, period, end of story," Mr. KLEIN said at the Western Premiers Conference in Kelowna, B.C.
The Ontario court methodically dismantled every argument made before it in support of heterosexual-only marriages. It refused even to permit a grace period for Ontario to bring its laws into conformity with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Courts in British Columbia and Quebec have also struck down marriage laws, but gave the governments time to rewrite their legislation.
The Ontario judges said denying same-sex marriage is tantamount to declaring homosexuals a lesser order of being, helping to perpetuate an impression that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming loving relationships.
"A purpose that demeans the dignity of same-sex couples is contrary to the values of a free and democratic society and cannot be pressing and substantial," said Chief Justice Roy McMURTRY, Mr. Justice James MacPHERSON and Madam Justice Eileen GILLESE.
"Same-sex couples are capable of forming long, lasting, loving and intimate relationships. A law that prohibits same-sex couples from marrying does not accord with the needs, capacities and circumstances of same-sex couples."
The judges ordered Toronto's city clerk and the provincial registrar-general to issue and accept marriage licences for two couples married under the Christian tradition of publication of banns in 2001 -- Joe VARNELL and Kevin BOURASSA; and Elaine and Anne VAUTOUR -- making them the first gay marriages in the country.
Henceforth, the court ordered the definition of marriage in Ontario to be "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others."
The ruling was the culmination of decades of strategic prodding by gay couples, associations and legal activists. All were ecstatic yesterday over the strength of the Ontario ruling.
"This is why people come to Canada," said Michael LESHNER, who married his partner, Michael STARK, within hours of the ruling. "They marvel at our values. We have sent an unmistakable message that love can conquer all."
"It's a momentous day," said Kyle RAE, a gay Toronto city councillor. "It is a great day for equality in Canada."
A lawyer for the couples, Martha McCARTHY, predicted many more marriages in the days ahead, while the federal government ponders a possible appeal. "The more marriages we get, the more inevitable this is," she said in an interview. "The time to be right is ripe, as Martin Luther KING would say."
Courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have now overturned marriage laws. But the rulings in British Columbia and Quebec did not take effect immediately because they allowed governments until mid-2004 to redraft the laws.
A final clash is now possible before a Supreme Court of Canada bench that has steadily established a reputation for defending gay rights. The federal government has only until June 30 to decide whether to appeal the British Columbia ruling. The Liberal government is also expecting a report this week from a parliamentary committee examining same-sex marriage.
Prime Minister Jean CHRÉTIEN said yesterday Justice Minister Martin CAUCHON is looking at the judgment along with the other rulings, and said it is too early to know whether it will be appealed.
Mr. CAUCHON said Ottawa recognizes it must move quickly toward a "national solution" to the same-sex debate.
"We see the direction that the courts are taking now," Mr. CAUCHON said after a cabinet meeting. "I'm asking for a little bit of time to look at the decision and to come back with a statement."
The Ontario Court of Appeal was not in a mood for patience, and it was not willing to run the risk that provincial legislators would devise wording to circumvent their ruling.
"A temporary suspension allows a state of affairs that has been found to violate standards embodied in the Charter to persist for a time despite the violation," the court said.
It also pointed out that were it simply to render the entire law invalid, gay people would be vulnerable to the wrath of heterosexuals who found themselves temporarily denied the benefits of marriage.
The decision rested on the constitutional right to equality and emphasized the "dignity" of individuals.
Launched by eight same-sex couples, the litigation had targeted a common-law definition of marriage as a union between "one man and one woman." The couples won their challenge in Ontario's Divisional Court, but it, too, suspended its ruling for two years.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal specifically rejected arguments that procreation is an integral pillar of marriage.
"Same-sex couples can choose to have children through adoption, surrogacy and donor insemination," the judges reasoned. "Importantly, procreation and child-rearing are not the only purposes of marriage, or the only reason why couples choose to marry. The opposite-sex requirement in marriage is not rationally connected to the encouragement of procreation and child-rearing."
They said government lawyers offered mere speculation instead of proof to show why the exclusion of same-sex marriages was a valid social objective -- and that the definition of marriage was far from a minimal infringement.
What Canadian think about gay issues
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the right to marry should be extended to same-sex couples.
Recent surveys have produced the following results:
Do you support or oppose gay marriage?
Support Oppose
Males (18-34) 61.2% 33.9%
Females (18-34) 69.2% 22.2%
If the Supreme Court of Canada said that the federal government had to give gays and lesbians the right to be married, do you think that the government should or should not use its power to overrule the court's decision?
Should Should not
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equal rights for women and ethnic and religious minorities and other groups. In your opinion, should the Charter also guarantee rights for gays and lesbians?
Yes No
Note: Graphic does not include respondents who did not know or who refused to answer.
source: Centre For Research And Information On Canada

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VAUTOUR m@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2003-06-11 published
Gay couple married after ruling
Couple celebrates end of 20-year fight
Judges rewrite definition of marriage
Tracey TYLER and Tracy HUFFMAN Staff Reporters
Two gay men said "I do" yesterday, after Ontario's highest court said "they can."
Crown Attorney Michael LESHNER and his long-time partner Michael STARK were married by Mr. Justice John HAMILTON in a hastily arranged ceremony in the jury waiting room of a Toronto courthouse, as a crowd that included everyone from judges to janitors looked on.
Just hours before, the Ontario Court of Appeal rewrote the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, saying denying gays and lesbians the ability to marry offends their dignity, discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and violates their equality rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A unanimous three-judge panel, made up of Chief Justice Roy McMURTRY and justices James MacPHERSON and Eileen GILLESE, then took the issue further than any other court in the world.
Gay and lesbian marriage became legal in Ontario, effective immediately.
"Michael LESHNER, will you please repeat after me," said HAMILTON, as he began the short, civil ceremony. "I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I may not be joined in matrimony to Michael Clifford STARK."
Both men repeated the declaration before pledging their vows.
"I Michael, take you Michael, to be my lawful wedded spouse," said LESHNER. "To have and to hold, from this day forward, whatever circumstances or experiences life may hold for us."
HAMILTON, an Ontario Superior Court judge, asked both men to place rings on each other's fingers, then made it official.
"By the power vested in me by the Marriage Act, I pronounce you Michael, and you Michael -- affectionately known as 'the Michaels' -- to be lawfully wedded spouses."
"You are now married," said HAMILTON, who later said it was "an honour" to perform the ceremony.
LESHNER, 55, and STARK, 45, kissed and popped champagne.
Speaking to reporters, LESHNER said he regards the court's judgment as, "Day One for millions of gays and lesbians around the world" and the culmination of a personal 20-year battle to end "legally sanctioned homophobia."
"I wanted to put a stake through that sucker," he said.
His 90-year-old mother, Ethel, who beamed and sang in her wheelchair, drew her satisfaction on a smaller scale.
"I feel wonderful, if he does. And I'm sure he does -- take a look at his face," she said.
"I can't 'rah, rah, rah.' I'm not the type of person to do that," she said. "I'm just happy my son is happy -- I know he's getting a nice guy."
While LESHNER and STARK are believed to be the first gay couple to wed after same-sex marriage became legal yesterday, they may not be the first gay Ontario couple to be legally married. That distinction appears to fall to two same-sex couples who were married in a double ceremony at Toronto's Metropolitan Community Church in January, 2001.
The appeal court ordered the province to register marriage certificates issued to those couples, Kevin BOURASSA and Joe VARNELL and Elaine and Anne VAUTOUR. The judges also ordered the clerk of the City of Toronto to issue marriage licences to LESHNER and STARK and six other couples whose licence applications were held in abeyance pending a ruling by the courts. The province and the city told the judges during a hearing in April that they would abide by whatever the appeal court decided.
Less clear is where the federal government stands.
Justice Minister Martin CAUCHON told reporters yesterday he believes Members of Parliament should have a say in the debate about same-sex marriage, but the government also sees where courts across the country are heading on the issue.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal and a Quebec Superior Court judge have also ruled the common law definition of marriage violates the Charter's equality provisions, but didn't go as far as Ontario in immediately extending marriage to same-sex couples, preferring instead to give Parliament until July, 2004 to change the law.
The Ontario Court of Appeal said there's no need to wait: Changing the definition of marriage, effective immediately, won't create any public harm.
Federal justice department spokesperson Dorette POLLARD said the government has until September 9 to decide whether to seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In the meantime, the government does not have the option of seeking a court injunction to stop same-sex marriages from taking place, she said.
If a further appeal to the Supreme Court is in the cards, it could return to the Court of Appeal to ask for a stay of yesterday's ruling, effectively putting it in suspension, POLLARD said.
She was unable to say how that would affect same-sex marriages that have already taken place.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, however, had no difficulty expressing an opinion on yesterday's decision.
By reformulating the definition of marriage, the appeal court ignored "centuries of precedent" and rendered "ordinary Canadians' views irrelevant," said Derek ROGUSKY, a vice-president of Focus on the Family, whose interests were represented by The Association for Marriage and the Family in Ontario, an intervenor in the case.
In its decision yesterday, written not by one judge in particular but collectively as "the court," the appeal panel changed the definition of marriage from being "the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman," to "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others."
A person's sense of dignity and self worth can only be enhanced by the recognition that society gives to marriage and denying people in same-sex relationships access to that most basic of institutions violates their dignity, the court said.
"The ability to marry, and to thereby participate in this fundamental societal institution, is something that most Canadians take for granted. Same-sex couples do not; they are denied access to this institution simply on the basis of their sexual orientation."
Preventing same-sex couples from marrying perpetuates the view that they are not capable of forming loving and lasting relationships and not worthy of the same respect and recognition as heterosexual couples, the court added.
It was ruling on an appeal from an Ontario Divisional Court decision last year. The Divisional Court said the common law definition of marriage as an exclusively heterosexual union was unconstitutional, but decided 2-1 to leave it up to Parliament to rewrite the law by July, 2004.
The dissenting judge in that case, Mr. Justice Harry LAFORME, who would have changed the definition immediately, attended yesterday's ceremony.
In its 60-page decision yesterday, the judges systematically disposed of Ottawa's arguments for preserving marriage as a heterosexual domain, saying they were filled with irrelevancies, stereotypes and "circular reasoning."
The government argued that marriage has always been understood as a special kind of monogamous institution that brings the sexes together for the purposes of procreating, raising children and companionship.
That isn't something that lawmakers dreamed up; it predates the law, the government said.
Who invented the concept of marriage doesn't matter, the court said; What does is how gays and lesbians fare under a legal regime that excludes them from the institution.
The government was avoiding the main issue by arguing that marriage "just is" heterosexual and benefits society as a whole, the court said.
"The couples are not seeking to abolish the institution of marriage," wrote the judges. "They are seeking access to it."
With files from Mary GORDON

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