Thursday, July 23, 2009

Saskatchewan marriage commissioner loses appeal

I was disappointed to learn late this afternoon that Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench Justice Janet McMurty has upheld the ruling of the human rights tribunal that marriage commissioner, Orville Nichols did not have the right to refuse to marry a same-sex couple in April 2004 on basis of his personal Christian beliefs. The tribunal had also ordered Nichols to pay the complainant (a man identified only as M.J.) $2,500 in compensation.

Nichols had appealed the May 23, 2009 ruling, arguing that his religious beliefs should be protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  McMurty dismissed his argument, however, in her 39-page ruling today, concluding that the human rights tribunal was "correct in its finding that the commission had established discrimination and that accommodation of Mr. Nichols' religious beliefs was not required."

Nichols has thirty days to appeal the decision. He has not indicated whether he will do so.

It is a sad day when the state can order that unpaid civil servants must leave their religious convictions at the door if they wish to perform their duties. Religion is not strictly a private matter; it is intrinsically public and must be allowed to be practiced publicly. It is highly hypocritical of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission manager Rebecca McLellan to say, "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."  Her very statement inserts her own personal beliefs into the decisions as to who can and cannot perform a public service and undermines the protection of the religious rights of Mr. Nichols and any other evangelical Christian who has biblically-based beliefs on homosexuality and marriage.

The message of today’s ruling - leave your religion at home! 

Strange how there was a time when one’s sexuality was private and one’s religion was allowed to be public. Now one’s sexuality is public and one’s religion is increasingly being forced to be private. Homosexuality is definitely out the closet and those with religious convictions are being pushed into it!

One of the earliest Christian documents is Hippolytus of Rome’s Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition dating back to about 215-217.  In this fascinating document that provides valuable insight into the practices and beliefs of early Christians, the bishop lists out some of the occupations that were forbidden to Christians due to the fact that to do so would inevitably cause them to compromise their faith.  If written today, I wonder if being a provincial marriage commissioner would appear on that list?

[The Voice of the Martyrs is making available Ezra Levant’s scathing analysis of the Canadian human rights system Shakedown for only $17.00. Order your copy today]


Bene said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, I thought Mr. Nichols withdrew from this complaint.

The site was set up to cover his fine, I believe the goal was met.

Glenn Penner said...

Thanks for this. I was unaware of that he had withdrawn his complaint. That was never made public. I have removed the blog that referred to this. This is not what I referring to in this blog however.

The site you refer to is obviously, though, also in place to help cover his legal costs incurred while fighting the appeal. Iam waiting to see if he appeals this decision. I would probably doubt it, if only because of the costs which can really pile up.

Anonymous said...

I love how you juxtaposed sexuality vs. religion. Very thought-provoking.

Anonymous said...

Justice Janet McMurty made the right decision. Case closed.

Glenn Penner said...

We'll see. The Saskatachewan Court of Appeal has been asked to rule on possible constitutionality of legislation that would allow exemptions on religious grounds. There are "not withstanding" allowances that can (and should) be made.