A decade ago, on June 9, 1994, you would have found virtually every New Democrat staffer at Queen’s Park (including yours truly) riveted to their TV screens, waiting and hoping against hope that Bill 167 — a law that would recognize same-sex relationships — would pass second reading that afternoon in the Legislature.

With some New Democrat MPPs threatening to bolt party ranks over the issue, the Rae government had opened it to a free vote. The strategy was controversial, but the bill’s only hope was if enough opposition MPPs voted with the government.

That wasn’t likely. The Conservatives had recently scored a surprise by-election win in a campaign where what we so politely call “social conservatism” (and what history will call bigotry) played a major role. Spooked, Lyn McLeod’s Liberals had scrambled to try and recover the intolerance vote, and turned their backs on their earlier support for the bill’s principles. Even when the government reluctantly deleted the two provisions that were supposedly keeping them from supporting the bill — adoption and the definition of the word spouse — the Liberals refused to budge.

So the stakes were high and the outcome unclear as the Speaker called off MPPs pro and con. To our shame, a dozen NDP MPPs voted against the bill. To the Liberals’ shame, only three of their MPPs voted for it. And the bill went down to defeat.

Bad enough. But legislature security staff — and the most charitable construction I can put on their reasoning is that it’s baffling — added profound insult to injury by donning latex gloves before escorting the bill’s outraged supporters (in the case of a friend of mine, “escorting” meant shoving him down the stairs) from the public galleries and outside the Legislature.

There were still a few hours left in the workday, but it more or less ended there (along with a lot of illusions about how far Canadian society had come). Devastated, we retreated to a nearby bar on Wellesley Street in the heart of Toronto’s gay neighbourhood.

As the day wore on, anger began to thicken into despair. But around us, something was happening to the flow of pedestrians. So slowly you could barely tell it was happening, two-way traffic was becoming unidirectional, as the entire community began to gravitate toward Yonge Street.

I looked up from my beer to realize the street was jammed with angry, proud, shouting, chanting people — arm in arm, hand in hand. And along with the anger was something else, something I had never experienced before at a demonstration. Not just defiance, not just determination, but something far more powerful.

It took an hour or two before I realized what it was: confidence. All of us there knew this was a battle where good would win. Not that night, clearly, but someday. The street hummed with the sheer inevitability of victory.

So one hopes the forces of intolerance took the time to savour that vote, because they’ve had little else to celebrate in the years since that night on Wellesley Street. Now, a decade later, comes the Supreme Court of Canada to not only affirm but eclipse the substance of Bill 167.

And along with their ruling, another chance to celebrate on Wellesley Street. If you’re in the neighbourhood, I hope you’ll make the most of it. I wish I could be with you.