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Anchorage Daily News
Canadian vowsTwo couples are among the first to take advantage of same-sex marriage law
By S.J. KOMARNITSKYAnchorage Daily News
Many couples go to great lengths to get married. Dan Carter and Al Incontro had to leave the country.
Last week, the two men and another Anchorage couple, Roger Crandy, 35, and Kirt Beck, 36, journeyed to Canada to exchange vows.
Carter, 56, and Incontro, 72, were married Tuesday at a park in Vancouver. Crandy and Beck wed Monday on the top of Whistler Mountain in British Columbia. Everything was sanctioned by law, and the Whistler Mountain ceremony was featured on the front page of the local paper.
The couples were among some of the first to take advantage of Canada's recent move to recognize same-sex marriages. They may be the first Alaskan couples to do so.
On Saturday, all four were back in Alaska to attend a reception thrown for Incontro and Carter at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage. Joined by about 50 friends and surrounded by rainbow-colored decorations, the couples celebrated their recent unions and talked about their decision to go abroad to get married.
The four men said they wanted their commitment to each other officially sanctioned, which was not possible in Alaska where same-sex marriages are not legally recognized.
"It's more than the ring. It's more than the (piece of) paper. It's a recognition of our relationship that's important," said Carter, who broke into tears describing the experience.
Both couples have been together for years.
Incontro, a retired IBM administrator, and Carter, a retired municipal employee, have been living with each other for 34 years. Crandy, an engineering draftsman, and Beck, computer network manager for Life Alaska Transplant Inc., have been together for seven years.
Both couples had previously exchanged vows in private ceremonies, but those vows lack legal standing. The couples can not file tax returns jointly, sign up for a joint membership at a health club or even put married as their status on forms at hospitals. During a recent hospital stay in Anchorage, Incontro said he had to list himself as single.
Although their unions still won't be recognized in Alaska, Crandy said being married has already changed his relationship in small but vital ways.
"It's neat to tell people officially, legally, he's my husband," he said.
All four said they hope Canada's move will spark other countries, including the United States, to adopt laws legalizing gay marriage.
In Alaska, voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. The amendment was proposed after a gay couple sued to get a marriage license.
"It's just crazy," Crandy said. "You can't stop us from living together and being together in our minds."
That sentiment was shared by those at the church Saturday, which included friends, co-workers and several other gay couples. Many applauded the four for their courage, and Canada was widely praised. One man jokingly suggested the group sing the country's national anthem, sparking a mass rendition of a few refrains of "O Canada!"
All four men said they were surprised by the friendly reception they received in the country. Carter described talking to a man at a fair. When they told him they came to Canada to get married, the man asked which one was getting wed. After a half second pause, the man realized the two men were getting married. "That's wonderful," he told them.
"That's not a response I would have expected from everyone in Anchorage," Carter said.
Beck and Crandy said people in Whistler were enthusiastic. At the community hall, workers held an office pool to see who would sign the marriage license, Crandy said.
Incontro said he's looking forward to some of the small changes he can make since the two got married. At the doctor's office, he can now circle married and, if anyone asks, he can produce the marriage certificate. At least, he'll be able to do that soon. The certificate is on hold for now because the province is redoing the forms, which currently read "bride and groom." They will now read spouse and spouse, he said.
Reporter S.J. Komarnitsky can be reached at 352-6714.
Anchorage Daily News - July 27th 2003
Two gay couples tie the knot on Whistler Mountain Thirteen days after the B.C. Court of Appeal legalized same sex marriages, the first two gay weddings on Whistler Mountain took place.
Kirt J Beck and Roger L Crandy came from Anchorage, Alaska to exchange vows under picture-perfect conditions Monday. Gary Gardner and Anthony Gilkinson, Seattle residents who own a home in Whistler, were also wed on the mountain the same day.
The couples received their marriage licences from municipal hall Monday morning before riding the Village Gondola to the alpine, where marriage commissioner Luise Zinsli performed the services. A coin toss determined that Beck and Crandy were the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage licence by the RMOW.
Gay American couples are expected to give an extra boost to the wedding business in Whistler and across the province this summer, following a July 8 B.C. Court of Appeals ruling to lift a moratorium on same sex marriages. On May 1 the court had ruled that opposite-sex restrictions on marriage violated rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The July 8 decision of the B.C. Court of Appeals followed a June 10 ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeals, which said that federal marriage laws are discriminatory and in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ontario court also ordered that same-sex marriages be legalized throughout that province immediately.
The federal government then approved a policy to open marriage to gay couples. New legislation is currently being drafted.
Canada is just the third country to allow same-sex marriages. However, of the other two nations, the Netherlands has a long residency requirement and Belgium will only allow marriages of foreign couples from countries that already allow such unions. Canada has no marriage residency requirement.
The legal status of Canadian gay marriages has yet to be determined by any court in the United States. But that isn’t keeping American gay couples from exchanging vows in Canada.
Pique Newsmagazine - July 25th 2003
Posted by Kirt & Roger at 12:30
Same-sex couples wed in Whistler Feature Story Gay partners from Washington, Alaska use coin flip to decide which couple should be joined first - Nicole Davis
When they first planned their trip to Whistler, Gary Gardner and Tony Gilkinson had no idea that they would also celebrate their wedding.
But after the July 8 decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal to lift a court-imposed one-year moratorium on same-sex marriages, Gardiner and Gilkinson phoned their friends, Kirt Beck and Roger Crandy, and the four decided to get married and celebrate in Whistler.
On Monday, the two couples were officially married by Marriage Commissioner Louise Zinsli.
“We’ve considered ourselves married ever since the day that we did our own vows even though it wasn’t legally recognized. Now, it’s incredible, very cool,” Beck said.
Since they knew they were to be the first two same-sex weddings to take place in Whistler, the decision as to who would actually be the first was decided through the execution of another time-honored tradition — flipping a coin.
“We used a toonie — and all of us are rather large guys with beards and we’re rather bearish — so there’s the bear on one side and the Queen on the other side. Kirt called the Queen,” Gardner said with a laugh.
Beck and Crandy thus became the first same-sex couple to be united in Whistler. Each couple witnessed the other’s ceremony on Monday morning on Whistler Mountain, and none could find fault with the experience.
When she first got the call from Gilkinson about the weddings, Zinsli didn’t know they were same-sex couples. When Gilkinson called back the second time, he mentioned it to her, and she jumped at the chance.
“Louise didn’t shy away. She totally wanted to do it,” Gilkinson said.
Zinsli was worried about the wording of the marriage document, which is decidedly heterosexual, using the words “bride” and “bridegroom.”
“I had a phobia of being insensitive with the wording, but we used ‘union’ instead of ‘marriage’ and at the end I pronounced them ‘wed ded partners for life,’ ” she said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity because a week ago I was coming to terms with it and they certainly helped me with that.”
“The attitude at the RMOW (Resort Municipality of Whistler) and elsewhere — they were as excited as we were,” Gardner said.
Both couples, each together for seven years, are Americans. Gardner and Gilkinson are from Washington state. Beck and Crandy are from Alaska. The fact that their marriages are recognized here but not in their home states is a painful reminder for the couples that they are sometimes not seen as such.
“Where it’s not legal, all he is to me is a roommate,” Gilkinson said of Gardner.
For the four, the recognition in society is what makes a same-sex marriage equal to that of a heterosexual marriage. Even though they were only married this week, they have been planning on being together for the past seven years, in ways that homosexual couples could do before the laws were changed. They did that by putting assets into b oth their names and including each other in their wills.
“Tony and I have taken great pains to do all the legal stuff so that if one of us dies the house goes to the other,” Gardner said.
All four men agreed that having the right to be married in a legally recognized ceremony should help same-sex couples feel better about themselves.
“Being gay, even in this day and age, you’re still a second-class citizen, and to have the authority of a society to say you’re not a second-class person means a lot,” Gardner said. “It is a very humbling experience to have the Province of B.C. and the Government of Canada, the people of Canada, recognize and value our relationship.”
Whistler Question - July 24th 2003