It’s out of the National Post regarding a court case in Saskatchewan that involves religious marriage commissioners and whether or not they can use that excuse to refuse to perform gay marriages. Short answer, they can’t.
Gay rights always trump religious rights when the two come into conflict. In the case of Toronto printer Scott Brockie, for instance, Mr. Brockie refused a print job from a gay and lesbian organization. In a 1999 ruling, the province’s human rights commission concluded and a federal court concurred that while Mr. Brockie was “free to hold his religious beliefs and to practise them in his home, and in his Christian community,” but no Charter right protected his actions in business or in the public square.
Earlier in the case of the Saskatchewan marriage commissioners, that province’s human rights commission ruled the provincial government was under no obligation to accommodate commissioners’ religious beliefs. Less well reported, though, was a suggestion by the Saskatchewan court that the provincial government devise a system that accommodates both sides. The justices recommended that couples seeking civil ceremonies be required to seek a commissioner through the provincial government, rather than approaching an individual commissioner directly.
Part of me wants to gripe and say these people should have to do their job regardless of their personal thoughts on the morality of the relationship but the article goes on to add the court’s suggestion — taking a provincial route to find an available commissioner would ensure the couple gets one that won’t quote Leviticus at them. Sounds like a win-win idea to me.
The trouble for commissioners is that they are not religious officials; their role is legally defined as strictly nonreligious. One should not have to be ordained to have his religious freedoms protected. However, if someone signs on to perform a secular function under authority granted solely by the state, he or she should not be entirely surprised if the state’s objectives end up conflicting with his or her own.
There is no religious aspect to the commissioner’s licence, which is why the court’s reasonable accommodation suggestion is, well, reasonable. Let’s hope the Saskatchewan government has the good sense to act on it.
I bold that bit because I think that’s what’s important to remember here. People want to run around thinking marriage is somehow god’s property and can only exist the way they think their god wants it when it’s really a government-approved contract. Isn’t that why people sign marriage certificates, to make the partnership legally binding?
One other thing:
Homosexuality can not be called one of the sins of Sodom, Gomorrah or Gilbeah since it is not in any of the lists of their sins given in the O.T. Ezekiel 16:48-50 lists the specific sins of Sodom as pride, plenty, laziness, uncaring for needy, haughty and worshipping idols – which was an abomination – not homosexuality.