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Source: York University

Same-sex marriage and parenting rights forums at York U

October 11, 2006

October 11, 2006 -- Public forums on two vital national social policy issues
– same-sex marriage and parental rights – will take place October 11 and 18
at York University.

Hosted by documentary filmmaker and York University Visual Arts Professor
Nancy Nicol, the forums will feature screenings of Nicol’s most recent
productions: The End of Second Class (2006) and Politics of the Heart
(2005). Each film will be followed by a panel discussion with distinguished
academics, lawyers and activists who are at the forefront of the struggle to
win equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people
in Canada.

"With the federal government threatening to re-open the marriage debate and
its recent decision to cut the Court Challenges Program, there couldn’t be a
better time to shed light on the long, arduous battle the queer community
waged to win relationship recognition, same-sex marriage and parenting
rights," said Nicol.

The End of Second Class traces the debate about same-sex marriage in Canada
over the past decade, up to the passage of the same-sex marriage Bill C-38
into law on July 20, 2005. The film tells the story from the perspective of
three couples from Quebec, B.C. and Ontario, and the lawyers and activists
who sought to uphold their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and

The End of Second Class premiered earlier this year at Toronto’s Inside Out
Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival, where it won the Elle Flanders
Award for best feature documentary as well as critical acclaim. Eye magazine
(May 18 2006) hailed it as "…powerful … an engaging human-rights polemic".
"It is Nicol’s breadth of material and her subjects’ depth of insight that
makes this documentary such compelling viewing," wrote XTRA (May 11, 2006).

Politics of the Heart is a portrait of lesbian and gay families in Quebec
who fought for recognition of their relationships, families and parental
rights, leading to the Quebec government’s landmark equal marriage law.
Passed by unanimous vote in the Quebec National Assembly in 2002, Bill 84
extended the same rights to homoparental families as heterosexual parents,
putting Quebec at the forefront of LGBT parental rights internationally.

Both films are gaining national and international attention. Recent
screenings include the International Human Rights Forum at the first World
Out Games in Montreal and the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in
Portugal. Upcoming presentations include Image + Nation in Montreal and
OutTakes in Dallas, Texas in November, and the International Human Rights in
Film Festival of the Helsinki Foundation in Warsaw, Poland in December.

Nicol’s research and creative work span video art, documentary, the
intersection between activism and art, human rights and equality, and the
history and politics of movements for social change. Following on The End
of Second Class, Politics of the Heart, and her 2002 film Stand Together
(on lesbian and gay activism in Ontario from 1967 to 1987), she is currently
working on a fourth documentary to complete her film series on LGBT rights
history in Canada. She is also working on an oral history and book titled
Politics of the Heart in collaboration with Miriam Smith of Trent

Forum Highlights:

Same-Sex Marriage: Wed. Oct. 11, 4:30 - 7:30 pm

The End of Second Class (90 min) followed by a panel discussion moderated by
Kathryn McPherson, Chair of the School of Women’s Studies at York.


Bettina Bradbury, a professor of history and women’s studies at York, is a
feminist, family historian and an expert witness in the case Halpern et al.
v. Canada on the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Cynthia Petersen, a partner with the Toronto law firm of Sack, Goldblatt,
Mitchell LLP, is the lawyer acting for Egale Canada in the case EGALE v.
Canada and Halpern et al. v. Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Miriam Smith is a professor of politics at Trent University. She specializes
in Canadian and American politics and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender (LGBT) movements in Canada. She recently received the
prestigious Bora Laskin Special Research Fellowship for her work on LGBT
rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights.

Gay & Lesbian Parental Rights: Wed. Oct. 18, 4:30 - 7:30 pm

Politics of the Heart (68 min.), followed by a panel moderated by Dorothy de
Val, associate dean in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York.


Rachel Epstein is the coordinator of LGBT Parenting Network and the Family
Service Association of Toronto. Epstein, her parenting partner, Lois Fine,
and their 14-year-old daughter, Sadie, were litigants in Rutherford v
Ontario, the case of lesbian mothers and their children seeking immediate
recognition through the process of birth registration.

Mona Greenbaum is the coordinator and founder of Quebec Lesbian Mothers

She and her partner, Nicole, have been at the forefront of winning the most
extensive legislation on same-sex parenting rights in the world. In 2002,
they were awarded the 2002 Prix-Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow Award) in honour of
their contribution.

Andrea O’Reilly is a professor of women’s studies and director of the Centre
for Research on Mothering at York. She has written and edited numerous books
on motherhood, including Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Motherhood,
Feminism and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering (2006).

Joanna Radbord is a lawyer with the Toronto law firm of Epstein, Cole LLP.
She represented the families in the case Rutherford v. Ontario, as well as
serving as counsel to a lesbian father in Forrester v. Saliba, which states
that trans-sexuality is irrelevant to a child’s best interests. She was also
co-counsel in the case Halpern et al. and the Supreme Court of Canada
Reference on Same-Sex Marriage.

These forums are free and open to the public. They are part of the Visual
Arts Speakers Series presented by the visual arts department and are
co-sponsored by the Centre for Feminist Research and the Sexuality Studies
program at York.

What: The End of Second Class and Politics of the Heart –

Free public forums on same-sex marriage and parenting rights

When: Oct. 11 & 18, 4:30 – 7:30 pm

Where: Room 001, Accolade East Building, York University, 4700
Keele St.

Information: 416 736 5187

More information on Nancy Nicol and her films at

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching
university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the
undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international
city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic
academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well
as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 23 research centres
conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary,
cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and
collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing
fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an
autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


Media Contact:

Mary-Lou Schagena, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University, 416 736 2100



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