Premier wins hearts at Law Society Pride event

Posted: 06/26/2013

Law Society celebrates Pride 2013In a rousing speech before close to 200 guests at the Law Society’s annual Pride event, Kathleen Wynne vowed she would not be the only Ontario premier to celebrate equality by marching in Toronto’s Pride parade.

In addition to being the first such premier to do so, Wynne’s attendance at Tuesday night’s reception also marked the first time a leader of the provincial government had attended Law Society Pride celebrations.

“We’ll make sure that I am not to last premier to walk in Toronto’s Pride parade nor to speak to this group,” she said to wide applause from eminent members of Ontario’s legal community.

Wynne’s statements came on the second day of Ontario’s Pride Week celebrations, which are among the best-attended in the world, and on what would turn out to be the eve of two historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings that struck down the Defence of Marriage Act and permitted same-sex marriage to resume in California.

Wynne thanked attendees for their advocacy around equal rights for all Ontarians and acknowledged what work remains: “We have so much to celebrate here in Ontario because of you.

“There is work to be done. There are still kids committing suicide in this province because they don’t feel they’re in a safe place.”

Ontario is the first province to have legalized same-sex marriage in large part due to the advocacy of lawyers like Martha McCarthy, a Law Society Medal recipient who successfully litigated M of M v. H. (1999), a landmark Supreme Court of Canada case that resulted in amendments to include same-sex couples as spouses in federal and provincial legislation.

“It’s easy here in Toronto and Ontario to be a bit complacent in terms of…our safe environment, but it can slip away,” Wynne said.

The Law Society’s annual Pride event, organized this year in partnership with the Ontario Bar Association, is one of the most popular in the Equity department’s Public Education series.

Last night’s reception was preceded by a panel discussion that included contribution from legal experts and human rights advocates, including Marcela Romero, the International Grand Marshall of the 2013 Pride Parade.

Read more about the panel discussion here

Since taking office about four months ago, Wynne said she was encouraged not to have experienced discrimination because of her sexual orientation. Wynne’s candour was warmly received and ever more so with her closing remarks: “People should not live in fear because of who they love. Ontario is a beacon of hope.”

In thanking Wynne for her attendance, panellist Mark Berlin, a lawyer and former director general with the Department of Justice, spoke liberally about the speech that had just been delivered: “I’ve fallen in love.”