Thursday, February 1, 2007

Welcome to Bizarro Canada, Population: 300,000,000

Read this from the Sacramento Bee:
Freddie Oakley, Yolo County's clerk-recorder, will distribute "certificates of inequality" to same-sex couples on Valentine's Day to protest the state's ban on gay marriage.

She said she designed the certificates herself as a way to "ease her soul" over having to deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

Oakley's "Certificate of Inequality" claims that California wrongly deprives gays and lesbians of the right to marry.

"I issue this Certificate of Inequality to you because your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important than principles of equality."

Contrast that with this from the Canadian Press via
The rights of a same-sex couple to marry faced off Wednesday against the rights of a Saskatchewan marriage commissioner who said he couldn't perform the service because of religious beliefs. But Nichols, a 70-year-old devout Baptist, testified that performing same-sex marriages goes directly against all he knows. "My religious upbringing, my religious beliefs don't allow me to do same-sex marriage," he said.
It's like looking at opposite land. The US has a heterosexual woman who wants to marry gay and lesbian couples but can't, Canada has a heterosexual man who doesn't want to marry gay and lesbian couples but can't not.

The difference is that the American woman still does her job but finds a creative way to protest. The Canadian man just doesn't do his job. This is a hurdle that we will have to overcome: our straight allies are honest people who generally play by the rules, the other side doesn't.

Nichols could just quit, which he should if he doesn't want to do his job. While I would be weirded out to get one of Oakley's Certificates of Inequality, it'd be good to know that at least one person there is on our side.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, the problem is that religious freedoms are protected in the Charter, both in s.15 on the grounds of discrimination and in s.2 as a fundamental freedom. The government may not require Nichols to violate his beliefs or prevent him from expressing those beliefs without violating his rights.

My argument is that s.15 is binding on the government (i.e. it must provide the legally required service) but the law does not grant any citizen the freedom to walk in to a government office, hand pick an employee, and demand that that employee provide the service. All the law requires is that the service be provided by the government. In so far as that service can be provided (as it was - the marriage was performed by a marriage commissioner) in a timely manner then no discrimination by the government occured.
Requiring a person to do something against their Charter protected religious freedoms is discrimination on the part of the government on religious grounds; this is prohibited by s.15. We must not forget that in Corbiere religion is identified as constructively immutable by the Supreme Court; it is not simply a choice.
The government can hire people of various faiths/abilities to cover all of the requirements of the law but it is not required to be sure that every person hired has to do everything.
Now, with respect to Saskatchewan firing commissioners who will not perform same-sex marriages on religious grounds, I would argue that this is constructive discrimination and in violation of s.15 if the person is being forced to violate their religious beliefs in order to keep their job.