Marriage Commissioner, a Baptist, Sues for Right to Refuse

Man sues Saskatchewan after being fined for refusing to perform same sex marriage

Tue Nov 25, 9:04 PM

By The Canadian Press

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – A marriage commissioner is suing the Saskatchewan government after being fined $2,500 for refusing to marry a gay couple.

A Saskatchewan human rights tribunal cited Orville Nichols for discrimination in May for refusing to perform the same-sex marriage. Nichols told the tribunal last year that he refused to marry the couple in 2005 because it went against his Baptist faith.

Philip Fourie, Nichols’ lawyer, said the lawsuit demands the province give marriage commissioners the legal right to not perform same-sex marriages if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

“This is clearly a horrible violation of Charter rights,” he said in a release Tuesday

“This problem can be easily fixed by simply allowing the commissioners a right to decline and pass on the ceremony request to another commissioner.”

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said the tribunal’s ruling is binding on the province

He said commissioners unhappy about the law have the option of turning in their licences to perform civil marriages.

“We have sent a letter to all of the civil marriage commissioners indicating to them that it is an option to them to surrender their civil marriage certificate and to obtain a religious one if they wish to affiliate themselves with one of the churches,” Morgan said.

The case is to be heard in Prince Albert on Dec. 23.

During the tribunal hearing into the case, Nichols said he was contacted in 2005 by a gay man about performing a wedding.

The gay man, who can only be identified as M.J. because of a publication ban, found Nichols’ name on a list of marriage commissioners in Regina.

Same-sex marriage was made legal in Saskatchewan in November 2004. Marriage commissioners, who are appointed and licensed by the province to perform civil ceremonies, were told to provide the service.

Nichols, who has been a marriage commissioner since 1983, testified that he told the couple he would not marry them because it went against his religious beliefs.

He then referred the couple to a marriage commissioner who would perform the ceremony.

The tribunal said in its ruling in May that Nichols was acting as a public servant when he performed marriages and so was obligated to marry the gay couple because same-sex unions are permitted by law in Canada.

Fourie chided Premier Brad Wall and Morgan for being critical of the former NDP government on same-sex marriage and promising to stick up for the rights of marriage commissioners.

“The government promised to be different but they are not acting any differently at all on this issue,” he said.

“The pendulum has swung too far in favour of same-sex people and against people of faith.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS NEWS STORY

I would’nt attend my son’s marriage if he married another man. Why should I be forced to preside such a wedding?

Exactly , follow the law or get another job…If the same person refused to marry an interracial couple because of his religious beliefs NO ONE would question this decision but for some reason same sex people , in the eyes of many cannot choose who to love

POSTED BY: Vin on SUN, NOV 30, 2008 01:26 PM -0500

The Commissioner is a Conscientious Objector — his freedom of conscience, and opinion, should be protected as long as it isn’t hateful. I’d support a Gay Commissioner if he refused to marry a heterosexual couple because he felt that the straight divorce rate was a clear indication of their commitment issues. (It’d be hard to argue that…) Especially if he was willing to refer them to a more sympathetic Commissioner. This is Canada, we allow people freedom they can’t get anywhere else.

POSTED BY: Doug on SUN, NOV 30, 2008 07:25 AM -0500

Frantz,priests do not marry same sex couples.As some non denominational ministries do,they are considered “ministers.” The Anglican church,which is currently facing a “schism” in the North American branch,due to the appointment of an openly gay bishop,who lives with his same sex common law partner.I believe some anglican churches are performing same sex blessings. In closing,priests do not marry same sex couples!

POSTED BY: joe on SUN, NOV 30, 2008 05:46 AM -0500

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