VIDEO: EGALE and the Battle for Equal Marriage
Egale Canada (Egale was originally was an acronym for Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) had started in 1985 as a queer civil rights group in the living room of Jamie Robertson. Their main initial goal was to have sexual orientation protected in the Canadian Human Rights Act, which they achieve in 1996.
Early activists included Les McAfee, whom Carmen Paquette describes as a 'lone wolf' working primarily out of his living room. The group eventually incorporates in 1995, at which point the focus on gaining equal marriage rights was in full swing.
Although the group has a general focus on education, advocacy, litigation and expert consultation, it becomes primarily seen as the group instrumental, and at times controversially, in working almost exclusively on marriage rights. John Fisher was the executive director from 1994 to 2002 during this critical period of the organization.
Equal marriage becomes law across Canada in 2005. Once this happens, the organization implodes somewhat as it struggles to find a new identity and focus. Helen Kennedy is eventually hired as ED, and the organization moves to Toronto.
Its programs and service now cater to a wide variety of continuing issues within the LGBT community, including homelessness, bullying and GSAs, homophobic and transphobic violence, and support for youth and two spirit persons.
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