Same-Sex Marriage Photo Project
Same-sex couples gaining the right to marry in Canada is one of many topics that will be included in the inaugural exhibits of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It is part of a larger, ongoing story of advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgendered, two-spirited, intersex and queer (LGBTTTIQ) Canadians.
In June 2003, a landmark decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violated their equality rights. It struck those laws down, effective immediately, making Ontario the first province in Canada where same-sex couples could legally marry. Eight provinces followed suit, and in 2005, the federal government passed the Civil Marriage Act, recognizing same-sex couples’ right to marry across the country.
The right to marry has been celebrated as building on important measures for equality that same-sex couples have achieved in recent decades, along with the right to adopt children and receive spousal benefits (such as pensions or workplace benefits). At the same time, members of the LGBTTTIQ community also express reservations about the institution of marriage, which has a history of treating spouses unequally.
To present the topic of same-sex marriage to our future museum visitors, we are inviting same-sex couples across Canada to share their photos and stories with us. Below are photos and a brief introduction to two couples that have shared their experiences with us.
Summers and Cassels: A Relationship for Healing and Love
Sandra Summers (left) and Christina Cassels (right) celebrate their marriage with their niece, Emily Summers (centre): December 16, 2006.
Sandra met Christina through a mutual friend to plan a trip to India in 1989. At the time, Sandra lived in Thunder Bay and Christina in Winnipeg. Their long distance relationship over the next three years provided an opportunity to uncover the values they shared, their love of family and their commitment to personal growth and healing. In 1993, they bought a house together in Winnipeg and in 1996 they had a commitment ceremony to celebrate their love in the presence of their friends and family. The commitment ceremony was a very personal event, and the most formal way of recognizing their relationship at that time, as same-sex couples did not gain the legal right to marry in Manitoba until 2004. Sandra and Christina were legally married in 2006 and both retired by 2011. They know that their union and ongoing commitment to each other represents a meeting of two hearts that provides the support and love they both need to continue their journey to personal wholeness.
Makokis and Halley: Sharing Strength and Vision or “Dreaming of each other all our lives”
James Makokis (left) and Robert Halley
James Makokis and Robert Halley have been together for over five years. Both have been incredibly busy during that time, including some long distance periods to achieve their personal goals. But in their commitment, a supportive love helped along the way. James was the national spokesperson for the National Aboriginal Role Model programme, speaking around the country and completing his medical doctorate, while Robert danced and performed internationally, including doing The Lion King in London. They live together in Edmonton, and have volunteered at the Camp Fyrefly GLBT2Q youth leadership camp. They both hope to share their passion of health and wellness through many outlets in marginalized communities and beyond