A Canadian MP has become the first federal politician in the country to marry his same-sex partner.
Scott Brison, Liberal MP for the Nova Scotia riding of Kings-Hants, wed his partner Maxime St. Pierre at a ceremony near Brison’s country home in Cheverie on Saturday.
The couple walked down the aisle to It’s a Wonderful World and walked back to I Can See Clearly Now.
Guests described the ceremony as joyful and emotional, according to CTV.ca.
“It’s something we need to celebrate and we must be proud that Canada is showing the way,” Liberal Leader Stephane Dion told the Canadian Press (CP) after the wedding.
“I came first to celebrate love and happiness between two friends of mine, but if by my presence it helps a bit to reinforce a newly recognized right and to encourage other countries to do the same, I am pleased.”
Former New Brunswick premier and ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna told the Ottawa Citizen: “”I think everybody in the room felt like they were part of a history-making event.
“It seemed like a validation of a long process. I think everybody who was here was very moved by the experience.”
He said Canadians have evolved in the past year or two and he believes the debate over gay marriage is over.
Former prime ministers Joe Clark and Paul Martin -whose government passed same-sex marriage legislation -and former Liberal cabinet minister Bill Graham were among the other well-known politicians in attendance.
Liberal MP Ken Dryden told the Ottawa Citizen : “It just felt like an absolute celebration.
“It was clear at the start, people were applauding and then feeling a little uncomfortable about applauding and then people couldn’t stop themselves.”
“The feeling in the church was so terrific, that I think they couldn’t help but have a good time as each minute passed.
Brison’s spokesperson, Dale Palmeter, told The Canadian Press that the marriage is a personal affair and would be celebrated in private.
Neighbours in the small sea-side town on Nova Scotia’s western shore were perplexed by the media frenzy surrounding the marriage.
“I think it’s silly that there’s so much publicity over it,” Joanne Lake, a neighbour of Brison’s, told CTV.ca.
“If he was straight, would there be quite so much publicity over his wedding?”
Brison, 40, stepped aside in 2000 to allow then-Tory leader Joe Clark to run in a by-election. He came out publicly in 2002.
Brison sought the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party in 2003, then crossed the floor to the Liberals just days after the Progressive Conservatives merged with the Canadian Alliance. He ran for the Liberal leadership in 2006.
He became the first openly gay federal cabinet minister in 2004, the same year a Nova Scotia judge ruled that not allowing gays in that province to marry was unconstitutional.
He has been quoted as saying he is “not a gay politician, but a politician who happens to be gay.”
Earlier this summer, Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman wed his partner Christopher Peloso.
When word of his engagement to St. Pierre first became public in October 2005, Brison said: “I’m looking forward to the day when the idea of a gay or lesbian politician getting married is not a story at all.”
Gay marriage was legally recognised in Canada two years ago, with the passing of a bill in June 2005.
The executive director of Egale Canada, a national gay and lesbian advocacy group, said Brison’s wedding marks an important milestone for gay rights in Canada.
“It’s extremely significant,” Helen Kennedy told the CP on Saturday.
“The more that we see people like Scott getting married, then it normalizes it in the mainstream, and hopefully there will come a day when it won’t be an anomaly, and we won’t care and Scott and others can marry just like anybody else does.”