COVER

‘To celebrate our love publicly’

PATRICIA CHISHOLM June 28 1993
COVER

‘To celebrate our love publicly’

PATRICIA CHISHOLM June 28 1993

‘To celebrate our love publicly’

PATRICIA CHISHOLM

Their love story is like so many others. Pamela Koch and Clare Nobbs first met in Berlin in 1990, when they worked for the same travel company. By chance, they met again later that year when Clare, a British citizen, was transferred to the company’s Toronto office, to which Pamela, a Canadian, had already returned. Their relationship turned romantic, and now they plan to celebrate their commitment with a church ceremony in August. But because they are both women, they are prohibited from entering into a legal marriage. Instead, they will stretch the bounds of the institution by declaring their love in a so-called holy union. Based on traditional Christian marriage vows, the ceremony will be performed by the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, an ecumenical denomination that provides services for gays and lesbians. “Rituals like this help people realize that gay people have rights, too,” Pamela says. “They should put the sex aside and see that it is love and commitment that counts.”

Pamela, 32, and Clare, 26, face other hurdles unique to gay couples. They are anxiously awaiting the outcome of Clare’s appli-

cation for permanent resident status. Normally, Canadians may sponsor nonCanadians whom they plan to marry, but the law does not extend to couples of the same sex. However, their Toronto lawyer, Mary Joseph, says that Pamela and Clare may well succeed on compassionate grounds. “I have handledeight similar applications over the last two years and all have been successful,” Joseph says. Meanwhile, Ontario Attorney General Marion Boyd has announced that the NDP government will support legislation extending many rights to same-sex couples, including spousal benefits under employee insurance plans.

Whatever the result of their application, Pamela and Clare say they will proceed with their service. Already, one friend is sewing pale linen pant suits for each of them, Pamela’s sister will bake the cake and custom-made silver rings have been ordered. “We want to celebrate our love publicly and before God,” Clare says. “We want to stand up and be proud of who we are. And the more this happens, the more other couples will want to do the same and, eventually, the law will have to change.”