CECE firstname.lastname@example.org_county.london.london_free_press 2003-02-15 published
Happy 50th Anniversary, Angelo and Cosima CECE
February 14, 1953-2003
Congratulations and Best Wishes to a special couple who truly embody the loving Valentine spirit each and every day. With much Love from your daughter Lucy, husband Robert, grandchildren Derik and Steve
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CELEMENGER email@example.com_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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CELESTIN firstname.lastname@example.org_county.london.london_free_press 2003-10-11 published
CELESTIN, Carl and Joan - Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary
October 12, 2003
Love from your family and Friends.
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CEPENDA email@example.com_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-10-02 published
65 years and counting
Two Toronto brothers, their little sister and their spouses celebrate an incredible 65-plus years of marriage
By Andrea GORDON, Family Issues Writer
Jennie GRUDI and her brothers Joseph and Harry SPENCER have always shared a lot. Their Ukrainian heritage, many a Christmas Eve feast and a passion for music and dancing.
But how's this for a family tradition? As of last week, all three have been married for 65 years.
For Jennie, 85, and her husband, it's actually been 66. Their anniversary was two weeks ago. Then last Wednesday, Joseph, 89, and his wife celebrated 65 years. Harry, 87, and his beloved Margaret hit the 65-year mark in June.
"I think this is a pretty good story," Jennie says, smiling at her husband Stephen, 90, as the six long-time love birds gathered around the kitchen table in the GRUDIs' Etobicoke home.
No doubt about it. Why should celebrity breakups get all the ink? Brad and Jennifer, Nicole and Tom indeed. Where are the paparazzi when the really big marriage stories come along?
The Queen sent a letter of congratulations to the GRUDIs. So did the Prime Minister, the Governor General and Ontario's premier. The least they could do. It's not often you get to extend Happy 65th Anniversary wishes. You have to look long and hard to even find a card for the occasion.
Between them, the three couples have almost 200 years of marriage. Eight children, 21 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
In the period they've been married, Elizabeth Taylor has done it eight times. Courtship has moved from the soda fountain to the computer keyboard. Romance is more likely to blossom to the strains of hip-hop than big band.
But the secrets to long, strong marriages endure.
"We could always go to each other and talk anything out," Margaret, 85, says of her connection to Harry. "And we never went to bed mad."
"That's right," he adds, a twinkle in his eye. "She always had to apologize first." (Clearly, a sense of humour is important, too.)
A strong constitution helps. Joseph, who has been smitten with Dorreen, 87, for almost as long as he can remember, cites his mother's cooking. "Kapusta (cabbage soup) and borscht."
But their parents Victoria BARON and William CEPENDA, who were born in Ukraine, met in Toronto and married in 1916, raised their three kids on more than hearty soup. Love. Loyalty. Discipline. A strong Baptist faith. The boys eventually anglicized their last name to Spencer.
Their dad cried when the last child moved out of the west-Toronto house where they all grew up. He died at 69, their mom at 82.
These couples don't say it in so many words, but their marriages have flourished because of partners who are caring and generous. And not just to each other.
Harry, who quit school at 12 and later worked in a foundry during the war, has spent 60 years as a prison volunteer counselling inmates.
At home in Orillia, where the couple moved from Toronto 17 years ago, he often mows neighbours' lawn and clears their snow.
Steve, a long-time sheet metal worker, and Jennie, who just finished harvesting a good crop from her vegetable garden, both volunteer in their community, preparing food for other seniors and driving them to appointments.
Joseph had a long teaching career at Central Technical School and was honoured by the Governor General for his distinguished volunteer service with Saint_John Ambulance.
He still teaches Sunday school.
Last week, there was romance in the air as the couples reminisced about when their first sparks ignited.
Jennie remembers encountering Steve. "He met me and he said in Ukrainian, 'Where have you been all my life?' He was with his girlfriend."
Thank goodness the gal only spoke English. Eleven months later they were married.
It was at summer camp in the late '30s that Joseph fell for Dorreen. He found out where she attended church and one Sunday morning took the streetcar across Toronto to greet her as she emerged.
They married in 1941 and a few months later he was overseas with the air force. They wrote twice a week, still have the letters.
Harry and Margaret have Jennie to thank.
One day as a teenager, Margaret handed over her little autograph book to Jennie, hoping her friend's older brother might pen something memorable. He did. Then he returned the book in person. And the rest is history.
The six have always been close. Every Christmas, Dorreen did the turkey, Steve carved and Margaret made the dessert. "Squares, all kinds," she says, reluctant to blow her own horn.
That's okay. The others will. They never stop singing each other's praises, finishing each other's sentences and urging one another to expound on their accomplishments.
"A big asset is being part of this family," says Dorreen.
She tries to explain further, but it's hard to talk when you're all choked up.
No need to say more anyway. They all know.
Steve's wit takes a backseat, too, when it's his turn to reflect.
"I wish I could go for another 65 -- with the same woman."
He looks around the table, realizing he speaks for them all.
And really, what better anniversary gift could you get than that?
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