Churches Want Involvement In Marriage Commissioner Case
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal will consider and rule on whether or not civil marriage commissioners can deny their otherwise public services to gay couples. The case is in response to a request from the provincial government, which is seeking information on the constitutionality of a proposed legislation to allow just that sort of thing.
In addition to the usual suspects—unions, rights groups, and some individuals—several church organizations have sought intervener status so that they can speak on the case. Most will argue that presiding over a gay marriage violates the religious freedoms of the individuals doing the presiding.
Churches are already exempt from Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore do not need to serve everyone equally regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. That does not, however, apply to individuals. At least not yet—and that includes civil marriage commissioners, who are, after all, just people who perform the legal duties at non-religious wedding ceremonies for people who do not wish to get married by a priest in a church. They’re not, nor are they supposed to be, representatives of their personal religion.
Nevertheless, the Canadian Fellowship of Churches and Ministers, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the Christian Legal Fellowship are all seeking to influence this public ruling. (I shall assume that they all pay taxes, then…)
Here’s my thoughts. Much in the same way that a vegetarian mustn’t deny a carnivore a boating license (lest the carnivore go fishing in violation of the vegetarian’s personal beliefs), a marriage commissioner cannot deny a marriage license to a gay couple; and that’s the way it should stay.
I mean, where did this idea come from that you can just avoid the duties that you’re expected to do? (cough, cough)