Canada Court Rules Marriage Commissioners Must "Marry" Homosexuals

REGINA, SK, July 17, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The appeal of a Saskatchewan marriage commissioner against a human rights tribunal decision was denied by the Court of Queen’s Bench last Friday. Orville Nichols, 71, was fined by the tribunal last year for refusing to “marry” two men based on his Christian religious beliefs.

Nichols, who served as a marriage commissioner from 1983 after retiring from a 25-year career in the police force, was approached by the complainant, only identified as M.J., in April 2005 to conduct the ceremony. Nichols informed M.J. that he was available, but when he realized that M.J.'s partner, B.R., was a man, he told them that he could not “marry” them based on his religious beliefs.

Nichols had himself complained to the human rights tribunal in February 2005 after he had been informed in November 2004 by the Saskatchewan Department of Justice that commissioners would be required to conduct same-sex ceremonies after the law changed to allow them. That case was later dismissed, in March 2006.

He was fined $2,500 by the tribunal in June 2008, which decided that as an official of the government, Nichols was not entitled to have his religious beliefs accommodated.

Nichols appealed that decision to the Court of Queen’s Bench, contending that his right to religious freedom should have been protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But Justice Janet McMurtry upheld the tribunal’s decision.

Nichols’ religious views are not relevant in how he conducts his job, according to the judge in her 36-page decision. “In that capacity [as marriage commissioner], his personal religious beliefs do not matter,” she wrote.

As a public official, she said, Nichols is obliged to perform civil marriages according to the statutes in the Marriage Act, which allows same-sex “marriages.” “I am sympathetic to the argument that a public official acting as government is at the same time an individual whose religious views demand respect,” she wrote. “However, a public official has a far greater duty to ensure that s/he respects the law and the rule of law. A marriage commissioner is, to the public, a representative of the state. She or he is expected by the public to enforce, observe and honour the laws binding his or her actions. If a marriage commissioner cannot do that, she or he cannot hold that position.”

The judge did not tell marriage commissioners who object to performing same-sex “marriages” that they must resign, however. According to McMurtry, based on The Marriage Act, commissioners are able to choose to take a more limited purview by offering their services only to those of a particular nationality or creed. For instance, if Nichols were only to offer his services to fellow Baptists, he would likely avoid the circumstance of having to refuse to perform a same-sex “marriage.” But the ability to choose a more limited commission does not apply to the choice only to marry heterosexuals, according to McMurty.

However, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan announced recently that the provincial government intends to bring in legislation that would allow marriage commissioners to refuse same-sex “marriages” for religious reasons. Two other commissioners besides Nichols have brought cases against the government for not protecting their religious freedom.

Nichols will have 30 days to appeal the decision, but according to CJME News Talk Radio 980 he has said in the past that he has difficulty covering legal costs, living merely on his pension.

A message left for Nichols was not returned by press time.

My fear is how long will it be in Canada before the Canadian Charter Of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of Canada starts nailing the Catholic Clergy for not marrying gays. Sure this may sound ludicrous and extreme but can anyone say with absolute assurance that this one day in Canada may become law ? Will there be a day when secular forces in the land haul priests to the courts on this account of not marring gays ?

Sadly; Canada is much more lax in it’s laws than our U.S. neighbor when it comes to homosexuality. No doubt the Catholic Church will have a big say and rightly so.

I think this is a solid decision. As a public official he is obliged to carry out all laws in the land. I am not familiar with Canada laws on this subject per se, but it does seem that this man was acting in the wrong by not marrying the couple based on this article.

I do not see this leading to the government forcing the Catholic Church to perform such marriages. I would, obviously, be against this. There is a large difference between a public official and a Catholic Priest.

So it’s also OK with you if they force a nurse to assist at abortions and doctors to perform them since they are both public employees. Same difference.

Not necessarily. I think the crucial question is whether other persons are available to do the job. Unfortunately, the LifeSite article which is quoted in the first post doesn’t make clear whether or not Mr. Nichols was the only marriage commissioner in his locality.

Here is a link to the LifeSite article:
lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09072403.html

In the case of a nurse assisting with an abortion, a hospital or clinic has other nurses who can fill-in, which would allow accommodation for religious objections. But if Mr. Nichols was the only marriage commissioner, his refusal to perform the marriage would mean government services could not be performed.

Edit:
It appears another marriage commissioner was available and performed the marriage.
cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2009/07/23/marriage-ruling.html

I dunno about the court’s ruling… especially since the judge stated that Mr. Nichols could restrict his marrying to just one faith or nationality.

That would have no bearing on it whatsoever. I cite David Packer, who in 1987 refused to guard Morgentaler’s illegal abortion clinic (this was before the Supreme Court struck down the law in 1988) and he got booted from the Toronto Police Force. There was certainly no shortage of police officers there.

That might not be a good comparison. We shouldn’t allow police officers decide who they going to protect and who they won’t protect. They are employed to protect everyone.

Get ready Americans, because this is coming here. I give it another 10 years before we start to see lawsuits complaining of ‘discrimination’ against homosexuals for the Catholic Church refusing to marry them.

All kinds of frivolous lawsuits are filed, so such things could happen. But any lawsuit such as you suggest would fail on constitutional grounds - they would violate the separation of Church and State. Marriage is a religious practice of a Church and the US government can not dictate religious practices.

Except that the Charter of rights gives Canadians the freedom to practice their conscience, and religion. Would you be comfortable by forcing undercover police to have sex with drug lords in an effort to stop them?

:ehh:

Are any police ever required to have sex?

Wow. This is incredibly sad. And to think, this may very well come to the United States as well. :frowning:

Presently all nurses in Canada qualified in government or private hospital labor and delivery departments, and despite their religious convictions are required by federal Canadian laws to assist with doctors in procuring of abortions. No excuses tolerated. I personally know of nurses who have been fired and even Catholic nurses who are friends who have personally left their profession because of such laws. Some (very few) provincial hospitals are somewhat lenient and make amends. But very rarely is the case.

They might.

Quote:
My fear is how long will it be in Canada before the Canadian Charter Of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of Canada starts nailing the Catholic Clergy for not marrying gays. Sure this may sound ludicrous and extreme but can anyone say with absolute assurance that this one day in Canada may become law ? Will there be a day when secular forces in the land haul priests to the courts on this account of not marring gays ?

As with Court judges or retired judges all Catholic priest in Canada must apply for and have in possession a provincial license by law to solemnize all marriages in the Church.
Makes me wonder when self-righteous lobbying gays will attempt to persuade the Canadian Charter Of Human Rights and the Supreme Courts that such licences won’t be granted to anyone on grounds of bias. What then ? Will they haul our priests to court ?
Sure this is sensationalistic. Presently the clergy are protected by federal laws in this jurisdiction, so long as priest solemnize marriages in the Church. What a bloody mixed up world.

What ? :confused::confused::confused:
Extreme wouldn’t you say ?

ker
It depends on the cop. It’s not unheard of in undercover operations where you must convince someone that you ARE who you say you are. I often wondered how my SIL coped with that knowledge.

It breaks my heart to say that my country Canada was (((“once”))) a richly blessed country.
Look back through history starting in 1960. The Modernist begin their reign. Look at the province of Quebec with particular history with Catholics. Once hailed by the Vatican as the greatest population of Catholics per-capita than any place in North America.
And today ? :(:blush::sad_yes: It’s an awful shame. Nothing against Morality surprises me today. The fact is shouldn’t we all be shocked ?

Yep, I’m with you, Pius. It’s happening. Even if there aren’t lawsuits, there will be a cutting off of federal funding for Catholic school and such. It’s absolutely sickening.

Since when does man’s law trump Divine Law? We are called to follow God’s laws first.

It is clear that police are not employed to protect Christians or those with the “wrong” opinion. Just ask the pro-lifers arrested for peacefully protesting at abortion clinics, for example.

But any lawsuit such as you suggest would fail on constitutional grounds - they would violate the separation of Church and State. Marriage is a religious practice of a Church and the US government can not dictate religious practices.

SOCAS has routinely been interpreted that the Church cannot tell the state what to do but the state can tell the Church what to do. It is a one way street.

Ask the Boy scouts who were evicted in Philadelphia for having the wrong opinion. Ask the Christians who got arrested for peacefully protesting a gay pride march. Ask the people forced by the state to violate their deeply held religious beliefs. Ask the mormons who were forced to abandon polygamy. The state can and does tell the church what to do - SOCAS be damned.

I think the idea that the government can declare someone married under its own power is a violation of SOCAS. There are no government done baptisms. There are no government done bar-mitzvash. There are no government done hajj’s. There are no government done religious ceremonies. However, government done marriages? Sure, why not. It is one of two religious ceremonies that the state can do (funerals are the other) - and the homosexuals will use that to shove gay marriage down the nation’s throat.

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