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Joe Varnell
(1969 - living) Canada

Joe Varnell

Bank manager


Joe Varnell was born in Toronto. He discovered the awesome potential of a classical education early in life. Armed with a thorough knowledge of the history and drama of Elizabeth's England, Joe naturally turned to teaching and playing bridge for a living.

He continued in this mainstream career until he met the man of his dreams, Kevin Bourassa and returned to school to become a web developer. After working on the web sites of a financial institution, and a consumer electronics company, Joe is now a consultant (Content Architecture), in a bank's Internet technology group.

Joe and Kevin decided to marry. Under the Ontario Marriage Act, any adult couple can be granted a marriage license if a church, following ancient tradition, reads the marriage banns on the three Sundays prior to the wedding. Joe and Kevin had long wished to be legally married in their church.

They expected controversy, but little expected the massive scale of the international coverage that occurred, as reporting on their intentions and their wedding of them shot across the Internet and their photographs appeared in newspapers not only across North America but also in Europe, Asia, and South America.

Joe & KevinIn January 2001, Kevin married his partner of three years Joe in a Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto service. They became thus the first gay couple anywhere in the world to be issued a government marriage certificate. The marriage would not become fully legal, however, until the Ontario provincial government registered the marriage, and it refused to do so. Bourassa, Varnell, and their church have brought a lawsuit asking for legal registration.

In July 13, 2002, that Bourassa and Varnell have received a favorable decision from the Ontario superior court in their suit against the provincial government.

Just Married is an account by Bourassa and Varnell of how their church, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, decided to test the Canadian marriage laws, and how they and a lesbian couple agreed to be the ones to make the attempt.

At present, they live in Toronto and maintain their own site, http://www.equalmarriage.ca.


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