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!)