12 May, 2010

Saskatchewan Court Considers Legislation Protecting Conscience Rights of Marriage Commissioners

Sasketchewan Court Considers Legislation Protecting Conscience Rights of Marriage Commissioners


  1. That article is only one reason why I consider Lifesite a not-credible news "source."

    They left out half the story. The other part of it is that the government of Saskatchewan is arguing both sides of the issue in order to force the court to make a ruling one way or another.

    For constitutional watchers, here's the issue: Federal law as well as provincial laws have declared same-sex marriage to be legal anywhere in Canada. That means that if churches will not provide the services, then the province must, since marriage law is strictly provincial. Marriage commissioners are provincial employees -- they work for the government. They are not allowed to break with the law for any reason. Marriage commissioners were put in place to provide strictly civil, non-religious services for those who could not or would not get religious services. So, if a gay couple want to get married and they cannot find a church that will marry them, the marriage commisioners must perform the ceremony!

  2. Anonymous13 May, 2010

    Hi Lady Janus,

    Right on!

    If the Supreme Court of Canada allows religiously motivated discrimination against LGBT citizens in the delivery of civil services, then it should also allow such discrimination against all other protected classes for the same reason.

    In the end, religion can be used to justify any kind of unjust discrimination. Here are just a few examples:

    a) Against women - some Jewish orthodox sects and Christian sects believe that women should hold no authority over men.
    b) Racial inferiority - Some Mormon sects believe aboriginals are inferior. The World Church of the Creator believes that non-white races are "mud races".
    c) Anti-Semitism - Many, many, many Christian denominations have promoted some type of anti-semitism at one time or another. Islam is equally guilty.

    Allowing religion as a basis for unjust discrimination in the public domain opens up a whole pandora's box of social evils - no matter how sincerely held those religious beliefs may be.

    The SCOC proceeds down this path at the peril of undermining social cohesion, fairness and justice. In my considered opinion, religion is not an absolute right that automatically trumps all other human rights. Religious freedom should not be lightly dismissed, but neither should it be accorded automatic supremacy.

    Just my two cents.


  3. Excellent point Martin! How do you see this right being accorded its place while maintaining and respecting other rights and freedoms? This is for me the key question that I have been wrestling with for years and I would appreciate your insight.



  4. Tim, if same-sex marriage is against Catholic rules, but not mine, let the Catholic church monitor its own membership for rule breakers and leave me alone.

    Religions only get to impose religious rules on their own kind. They don't get to impose them on anyone else.

    So, if a Catholic marriage commissioner is not allowed under Catholic rules to fulfill his duties as a civil servant, he does not belong in the job of marriage commissioners. By law, as a civil servant, he may not impose his religious views on others.

  5. Anonymous13 May, 2010

    Hi Tim,

    This is a good question. The SCOC has ruled in other cases that religion should be accomodated up to the point of "undue hardship". In these cases, however, religion was not in conflict with other rights. The standard of "undue hardship" was formulated in the context of religious accomodation within secular environments (e.g. in the workplace).

    I think the SCOC formulation of the standard of "undue hardship" within a secular context is consistent with our understanding of the safeguarding of freedom of religion and conscience. I can accept this standard in a secular context.

    When religion is in conflict with another human right, however, it must necessarily be subordinate to that human right.

    The reason for this is as simple as it is unpalatable: any horrible idea can be enshrined in a religion.

    This is further complicated by the fact that there are no rationale reasons to prefer one religion over another. There are no objective mechanisms to say that the theology of The Chruch of the Creator is any truer than the theology of the Roman Catholic Church.

    I do not say this to offend, and I do not mean to imply that religion is not also capable of sublime truth, beauty and goodness. I simply observe that religion is, has been, and likely always will, reflect the noblest and the basest of our human natures.

    Hope that answers your question Tim.



Followers of this blog:

Blog Archive

Google Analytics