OSHAWA, ON, June 29, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In 2002 Marc Hall was, using the words of Durham school board chair Mary Ann Martin, “the centre of the gay universe”. The 17-year-old high school student burst onto the international scene when he demanded that his Catholic high school allow him to bring his 21-year-old boyfriend to the prom. When the school board refused to acquiesce, standing firmly behind the moral convictions of the Catholic faith to which the board adheres, he pursued legal action.
After costing the Durham school board well over $150,000 in legal fees, Marc was given what he demanded. An unprecedented court injunction was issued which ordered the school board not only to allow Hall to bring his homosexual partner to the prom, but also forbade the school from canceling the event to avoid violating the precepts of the Catholic faith.
David Corbett, Hall’s legal council, also gained from the anti-Catholic action, being promoted to the Ontario Superior Court shortly after winning the injunction.
But as an injunction ultimately holds little permanent legal weight, Hall also launched a $100,000 lawsuit against the school board. But now, after mainstream news media across the world have elevated him as a hero of the gay community, and after the school board has paid hundreds of thousands in legal fees, and the CBC shot and aired a made-for-TV movie about Halls fight for ‘justice’, Hall has announced his decision not to pursue the case to its conclusion.
“Marc is interested in these issues,” said Andrew Pinto, Hall’s current legal council, “but he realized it was not realistic for him to be personally involved in an issue that is actually one of philosophical and legal, moral and religious rights.”
Durham school board chair Mary Ann Martin, however, isn’t convinced that this is at all the reason for dropping the case. “My personal opinion is that the prom issue was just a stepping stone towards same-sex marriage and now that [gay right’s activists] got the coverage that they wanted at the time, Mark’s story has just fallen off to the side,” said Martin. She pointed out that one of the main reasons Hall has chosen to drop the case is a lack of funding to pay for legal council. This wasn’t a problem in 2002 when Hall had the whole gay-rights community backing him up. “They have dropped him like a hotcake,” said Martin.
“And the thing was that [the Durham Catholic school board] wanted to continue and go to court,” said Martin, lamenting this recent decision and what it means for the school board. In 2002, “The media didn’t even understand that the injunction was not the trial itself, it was part of the case, that the case had never really been settled.Â We won’t have the opportunity to go before the courts. We’re being deprived of that.”
In fact, Justice Shaughnessy, the judge who allowed Hall to drop the case, predicted that in all likelihood the school board would have been successful had the case proceeded to its conclusion. “The one good thing that came out of this was the endorsement by Shaughnessy,” said Martin. “He believed that we probably would have been successful in court.”
Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) pointed out that the damage has already been done in the eyes of public opinion, and that it isn’t likely to be corrected. “At the end of the day, although Justice Shaughnessy has cautioned any long-term precedent value of the initial decision, I would not expect same-sex advocates to highlight this recent finding in future discussion on this,” said Horgan. “They’ll talk about the 2002 deliberations, but not those of 2005.”
“The school board has been denied the ability to defend its constitutionally protected denominational rights,” said Horgan of Hall’s recent decision.