CBC news reported yesterday that the highest court of the Canadian province of
Saskatchewan, has ruled that marriage commissioners who are public servants cannot refuse to marry same-sex couples.
“The decision by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejects two proposals from the provincial government that would allow some or all marriage commissioners to refuse to perform a service involving gay or lesbian partners if it offended their religious beliefs.
The government proposed that marriage commissioners who were employed before the law changed in 2004 could refuse to perform the services. It also proposed a second option where all marriage commissioners could refuse.
But the court noted that marriage commissioners are appointed by the government to perform non-religious ceremonies and are the only option for some same-sex couples seeking to tie the knot.
Lawyers appointed to argue that the proposals were constitutional said that if anyone was refused a marriage service, it would be easy to find another commissioner who would perform the same service. The court of appeal wasn’t persuaded by that argument, saying that both government proposals were “contrary to fundamental principles of equality in a democratic society” and must be rejected.
“Both of the possible amendments offend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Either of them, if enacted, would violate the equality rights of gay and lesbian individuals,” Justice Robert Richards said in the ruling, supported by justices John Klebuc, Ralph Ottenbreit, Gene Ann Smith and William Vancise.”
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