BRENT HAWKES, CM ONB born; Hawkes is a Canadian clergyman and Gay Rights activist.
He was appointed as senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, a church openly affirming for LGBT parishioners, in 1978 to succeed Bob Wolfe.
Hawkes has served on the advisory committee of PrideVision TV, and served on the board of directors for advocacy group Egale Canada. In addition to his advocacy work on LGBT issues, he has supported anti-racist initiatives, drawn attention to poverty and poor housing, and advocated the ordination of female priests.
On January 14, 2001, Hawkes gained national attention by performing a wedding ceremony for two same-sex couples at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. Although city clerks would not issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriages at this time, Hawkes employed the alternative provided in Ontario law for regular church attendees to publish official banns for three consecutive weeks, and thereby conducted a legal marriage without requiring prior government permission.
In the spirit of the banns as a public opportunity for interested parties to raise legal objections, the church also issued a press release in late 2000 announcing its intentions. The government of Jean Chretien did not endorse the marriages, although Governonr General Adrienne Clarkson sent a personal letter of support. The city clerk refused to register the record of marriage, leading to a court battle. The church sued the city, the province and the federal government. On July 12, 2002, the Ontario Superior Court Justice ruled that the marriages performed by Hawkes in January 2001 were legal, but stayed its decision pending a possible appeal, and on June 10, 2003, the Court of Appeals for Ontario declared the common law definition of marriage as “invalid to the extent that it refers to “one man and one woman” in the ruling of Halpern v Canada, immediately striking down all barriers against same-sex marriage in the province. It also made those two marriages the first in the modern world.
He retired as pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in fall 2017, and was succeeded by Jeff Rock. Hawkes lives in Toronto with John Sproule, his partner of more than thirty years. They married on March 7, 2006.