Everyone’s invited

The Rev Ken Campbell, who stood up in church last month during the publication of the banns to protest the upcoming same-sex marriages ceremony, won’t attend on the big day.

“I’ve registered my objection,” says the Milton-based evangelist. “There was no chip on my shoulder. We agree on a lot of theology [but not on gay marriage].”

Campbell won’t crash the ceremony. “I reserve the right to keep assessing things, as things progress.”

But the two couples who’ll be exchanging vows at the Metropolitan Community Church Of Toronto are inviting everybody else.

“The couples are really encouraged by the support the community is showing them. The couples have asked that the wedding be open [to all],” says Brad Salavich, the church’s media coordinator.

Salavich – who’s in corporate sales at a computer company – has been granted a week off work by his employer so he can volunteer full-time this week at the church to deal with reporters. “We actually stopped counting interviews a week or two ago, when we passed the 65 mark.”

The New York Times, web-based media, the CBC, have all done stories. “There’s a couple of documentary crews,” says Salavich, plus a European news agency and reporters from Virginia. With days still to go, 40 outlets have been accredited.

The two couples – Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell and Anne and Elaine Vautour – are living in a fish bowl. Camera crews follow them, whether they’re picking up flowers or getting their hair done.

“We’re actually taking out some pews from the sanctuary to enlarge the media area,” says Salavich. “It’s not a normal wedding.”

One of the four exchanging vows told Salavich: “If anybody ever asks you if you want to be famous, say no.”

The sanctuary can hold about 650 people; there’ll be an overflow area seating another 200 or so (with a sound feed, and possibly video if the equipment can fit).

The sanctuary’s doors will open at 1:30pm on Sun, Jan 14. “Be there early,” warns Salavich. “there will be line-ups.”

If so inclined, in lieu of gifts, you make a contribution to the defence fund that will pay for a court challenge (since the province’s registrar-general, Tory MPP Bob Runciman, has already said he’ll refuse to accept the marriage certificates).

Cheques should be made out to MCC Toronto Legal Challenge Fund (115 Simpson Ave, Toronto M4K 1A1, or call 416-406-6228). You’ll get a tax receipt – Salavich says the legal case will not cost the church its charitable status (Revenue Canada is strict about mixing charities with political work).

“We’re a church and in our statement of mission we perform the sacrament of marriage. This [refusal to accept the marriage certificates] is a challenge to our right to perform the sacrament of marriage.”

Since both couples have already been married once, this second ceremony is more of a statement. “They already consider themselves married. This is a process to get government to acknowledge what they [already] know to be true.”


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