Canada Wins and Religious Bigot Loses Over Gay Marriage Case July 24, 2009

Canada Wins and Religious Bigot Loses Over Gay Marriage Case

Saskatchewan can teach religious Americans a lesson: Your religious beliefs are not an excuse for you to avoid doing your job.

Marriage commissioner Orville Nichols was asked to perform a marriage for “M.J.” When he discovered that M.J.’s partner was the same sex, Nichols backed away, because he believes that “God hates homosexuality.”

M.J. filed a human rights complaint, won the case, and was awarded $2,500.

Nichols appealed, and last week, the ruling was issued: Nichols was wrong; religion is not a legitimate excuse to deny someone their rights.

The Court of Queen’s Bench decision was praised Thursday by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

“To allow a public official to insert their personal beliefs into decisions about who should and who should not receive a public service would undermine the protection of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code,” said Human Rights Commission manager Rebecca McLellan.

Well put. Nichols is a government official, not a priest. His salary is paid using taxpayers’ money. He is in no position to discriminate. His bigotry must remain within his church.

Can you imagine if Nichols refused to marry a Muslim couple? An atheist couple? A black couple? An interracial couple?

The point is simple: if you’re a federally-funded marriage commissioner, you can’t refuse to marry a couple because you think God forbids their love or their beliefs go against your theology.

Somewhere, a Christian pharmacist is shaking in his boots.

(Thanks to Jude for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Yay! We did something right!

  • Erp

    Except I understand some are trying to pass a law in Saskatchewan to allow these same people to legally refuse and the legality of that hasn’t been tested.

  • Shane

    This is my neck of the woods. If you want to help me out, you could crash this poll for my local talk radio station:

    Right now it is only 33% in agreement.

  • Shane

    Except I understand some are trying to pass a law in Saskatchewan to allow these same people to legally refuse and the legality of that hasn’t been tested.

    Yes, exactly. Under current law they cannot refuse so some people want to pass legislation specifically allowing them to refuse. THEN it will get interesting. Passing a law specifically to allow you to discriminate against a minority.

    I was listening to the local talk radio a bit. Apparently, when an individual’s right to religious expression overrides your right to same-sex marriage, it is called “accomodation”. But the other way around is the out-moded, “American”-style system where different human rights “clash”. You don’t want to have rights clashing, do you? That would be loud and frightening.

  • Pretty sure given the current composition of the SCC that any law would be eventually found unconstitutional.

    Poll crashed, Shane.

  • El Zilcho

    I’m glad that my home province can get something right. Now, if only we would stop funding Catholic schools with public money.

  • Eliza

    The poll question is a bit tricky to parse. The yes/agree votes are up a bit, to 35%.

  • It’s these types of stories that give me hope for humanity. Now if this could happen more often in America, I’ll feel even more hopeful.

  • David

    America is the most backward large nation in the world. we are plagued by an acceptance of the Cristian right that has allowed them to hijack our political system, and like all pestilence they must be irradiated, before they cause irreparable damage

  • ayer

    The distinction in the case of the Christian pharmacist is that he is not a government employee performing a licensing function of the government, but is instead a private citizen operating a private business and is free to choose those products he wishes to sell or not sell (e.g., abortafacients, etc.) (since we believe in freedom of conscience and choice–correct?)

  • I agree with “ayer” and have taken this post to task here, FYI.

  • I love these lines:

    Nichols testified that although he doesn’t object to gays and lesbians getting married, he did not want to perform the ceremony.

    He told the tribunal that the Bible directs him to believe that “God hates homosexuality.”

    It’s become extremely popular to say, oh, I don’t object to gay marriage. I just think God hates it.

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