Response to same-sex marriage call exciting for CMHR researchers

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The story of same-sex marriage in Canada is the story of people joining together: the couple, their families, their communities. With the amazing response to our crowd-sourcing initiative for photos and stories about same-sex marriage, they have come together with the Museum as well.

When we issued the call for photos in early March, people responded immediately. In total, we received 325 photos from 115 couples in almost every province and territory. Photos came from people of different sexual orientations, ethnicities, regions, religious affiliations, and ages. It is a shame that not all of the submissions can be used in the exhibit. 

Jackie and Kelly
Jackie and Kelly Trent, married in Calgary in 2012 

We hope the positive response demonstrates the excitement many people have regarding the Museum’s effort to collaborate with the public in defining same-sex marriage as an issue of equality, social justice, and human rights. We also hope this project will continue to build a strong working relationship with members of the community in the future. 

These stories and photos remind us all that human rights are not to be taken for granted and that the struggle for equality remains ongoing. They also remind us that same-sex marriage is about more than the legal recognition of relationships. It is a much deeper issue of human rights. As Tessa Holloway and Anja Weber, a couple who married in British Columbia, wrote: “it was important to us that we’re not treated as second class citizens – that we’re married both in our hearts and rightfully under the law.” Jay Walsh and André Morand, who married in Toronto in 2011 and currently reside in San Francisco, similarly described same-sex marriage as a “right to express love and devotion,” a right that “comes with so much more than just a marriage certificate.” 

Jay and André
 Jay Walsh and André Morand, married in Toronto City Hall in 2011

Many couples described their weddings as celebrations of love and friendship, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. “Our day was about love, plain and simple.” Crystal Chilvers and Laura Ferguson of Ontario wrote of their recent wedding. “It was not about a GAY marriage, it was just a marriage. Our guests all commented on how that was the last thing to cross their mind - and our 'older' lesbian guests were in awe of how easy the day was, and how thankful we should be (and are) for all those who have stood up for our rights before us.”

This project also had its challenges. One issue stemmed from our hope to gather photographs of same-sex relationships taken before the official legalization of same-sex marriage. We wanted to emphasize that legalization did not suddenly “produce” same-sex relationships, but is one step toward equality. These photos were more difficult to find, which perhaps reflects the long history of discrimination same-sex couples have experienced. 

Ken and John
Ken Delisle and John Robertson, married in Winnipeg in 1979, before same-sex marriage was legally recognized.

Another issue stemmed from our desire to respect couples who decided not to marry out of their opposition to an institution that, for so long, has been discriminatory to same-sex couples. For the inaugural exhibit, we decided to include only photos of those who did marry in one form or another, to keep the focus on same-sex marriage as a basic human right.

We are very grateful to everyone who shared their stories and photos and we look forward to further collaboration in the future.  

Happy Pride!


As part of the Winnipeg Pride Festival this week, the CMHR'S Media relations Manager, Maureen Fitzhenry took the Out + About with Pride Winnipeg team on a guided tour of the Museum. Maureen explained to Kelsey and Graeme some of the themes that will be explored in the Museum once it opens in 2014.

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