A discriminatory bill that would allow civil marriage commissioners to refuse their public services to gay couples went before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal yesterday. The bill was, strangely enough, brought to court by the government that’s ultimately trying to introduce it in an attempt to predetermine its constitutionality.
I’m certainly no lawyer, but the fact that the provincial government even has to consult the courts shows what a constitutionally shaky bit of nonsense this is. I mean, I can’t imagine how allowing people to refuse public services based on personally held beliefs can mesh with Canada’s Charter of Rights. Civil marriage commissioners provide non-religious ceremonies for couples that do not wish to be married by a priest in a church. If these commissioners interpret their personal religious texts in a way that forbids them from serving a segment of the public in a professional capacity—and that’s a pretty big stretch, if you ask me—then they’ve chosen a career forbidden by their faith and had better choose another.
Personally, I have a feeling that we have nothing to worry about, but if my intuition is wrong and the court rules in favour of the bill, then I have a ton of questions. In addition to gays, could civil marriage commissioners refuse to marry an inter-faith couple? How about a couple who has a child out of wedlock? Does this incredible trump card apply to other careers? Could a vegetarian working at a provincial registry refuse to file paperwork for hunting licenses? What about a pharmacist who’s a Scientologist refusing to fill prescriptions for anti-depressants? Can a doctor who’s a Jehovah’s witness refuse to perform blood transfusions?
And if those questions are too hypothetical at this point, how about a thick-headed premier who’s an Annelidaterian forcing all Saskatonians to open a massive can of writhing, slimy earthworms?
I guess we’ll find out soon!