May 30, 2024

It’s a battle of rights and inclusion for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community when it comes to civil marriage at Cambridge City Hall.
Coun. Donna Reid, an active feminist and advocate for inclusiveness, proposed that city hall perform civil marriages for all people regardless of sexual orientation and not contract someone who will not provide these services to same-sex couples.
Cambridge City Hall currently has two people hired to perform civil marriages: Rev. Jay Brown and Rev. Marion Loree.
The City of Cambridge website, under marriage services, states that all traditional and non-traditional marriages are performed by Brown, who is under a yearly contract with city hall. The site does not name Loree.
“The city would just book them in for Rev. Brown, but if it’s for the other officiant there would have to be a discussion with her as to when that could happen, so they would have to be treated differently,” Reid said.
At the Sept. 10 council meeting, Brown said after the law changed to allow same-sex couples to marry she began interviewing ministers who would perform same-sex marriages.
“Since 2005, same-sex marriages have been performed right here at the city hall and no one, I say no one, has ever been turned away,” said Brown.
But Reid’s point is that Brown does not officiate same-sex marriages, and therefore, should not be employed by the city.
According to a Jan. 10, 2011 article on the CBC News website, the Supreme Court of Saskatchewan ruled that public marriage commissioners cannot refuse to marry same-sex couples.
One of the delegations at the council meeting, Susan Howard, a lawyer residing in Cambridge, pointed out the need for change in Cambridge.
“When Rev. Brown got this contract 15 years ago, it was not the law that same-sex couples be treated equally, but it is the law now. Times have changed and the city needs to keep up with that,” said Howard.
A list put together by Kelly Lovell, who conducted some research for Reid, shows that Cambridge is one of the only cities that allows non-inclusive marriage officiants to be contracted by city hall.
Neighbouring cities that provide non-biased marriage services include Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, London and Stratford.
Although Coun. Reid’s motion passed there is still some confusion from other councillors on Reid’s idea of inclusiveness.
“Coun. (Ben) Tucci’s interpretation is this: if she hires someone in her business to do same-sex marriages under her business, then the corporation is an applicant and it is allowable under my motion. And I am saying, ‘No it’s not.’ I will not stand for it,” said Reid.