Harvey Brownstone (born July 24, 1956) is a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice and the first openly gay judge in Canada. He is also a bestselling author and host of a television talk show on matters involving family law.
Brownstone served on the Toronto Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations from 1990 to 1993, and chaired the first Subcommittee on Gay Issues. This appointment was featured as the cover story in the October 11, 1991 issue of Xtra Magazine.
Brownstone was appointed a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice in 1995, making him the first openly gay judge in Canada. Brownstone has presided in both criminal court and family court. He served as Local Administrative Judge of the Toronto Metro West Family Court from 1999 to 2001 and then served as Local Administrative Judge of the Toronto North Family Court from 2001 to 2006. During his tenure as Local Administrative Judge, he coordinated the mergers of the Toronto Metro West (80 The East Mall) and Metro East (1911 Eglinton Avenue East) Family Courts with the Metro North Family Court at 47 Sheppard Avenue East, making the Metro North Court the biggest and busiest provincial Family Court in Ontario. In 2006 Justice Brownstone was instrumental in persuading the Court Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General to hire a full-time staff mediator at the newly merged Family Court. Since December 2013, Justice Brownstone has been presiding in criminal court in Toronto and has adjudicated several high profile cases.
He is highly respected within the LGBT community because he was the first openly gay judge appointed in Canada, and is frequently called upon to speak at events within that community.
Brownstone officiated at the marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer, whose marriage triggered the constitutional litigation at the United States Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor). He has spoken publicly and written about the role he played in officiating at this monumentally important wedding. Justice Brownstone was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary "Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement" (Bless Bless Productions, 2010), and is the subject of a full-length interview on the special features on the DVD. As Canada's first openly gay judge, he has been recognized for playing an instrumental role in raising Canada's profile in the evolution of marriage equality law in the United States. On August 9, 2013 he received the "Hero of the Week Award" from the Social Justice for All website. In addition, Justice Brownstone was prominently featured in the globally distributed promotional video celebrating World Pride, held in Toronto from June 21 to 29, 2014. Edith Windsor, at age 85, made a return trip to Toronto to celebrate World Pride, and was cited by Justice Brownstone as "the Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement". Justice Brownstone and Edith Windsor made a much-anticipated and historic appearance together on CTV's Canada AM and gave a joint presentation at the World Pride International Human Rights Conference on June 25, 2014.
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