REGINA, Saskatchewan, January 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall last week defended his government’s decision not to challenge a non-binding court ruling saying that marriage commissioners must “marry” same-sex couples regardless of their religious views.
The court’s judgment on the matter was clear, said Wall, according to the Regina Leader-Post.
“We appreciate and respect the rule of law and the role of courts in our society, especially in regards to the Charter, and so we’ve made our decision,” he said.
The court had said that allowing commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex “marriages” would send “a strong and sinister message” that “gays and lesbians are less worthy of protection as individuals in Canada’s society.”
Faye Sonier, Legal Counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, who has been fighting the case, expressed her disappointment with the government’s decision in a letter to Justice Minister Don Morgan.
“Our high court has consistently noted that the right to freedom of religion is broad and it includes the right to belief and the right to act on those beliefs … It is the role of governments in Canada to ensure all enjoy these cherished freedoms.”
”We are therefore very disappointed with the decision of the government to refuse to accommodate the religious beliefs of marriage commissioners,” Sonier wrote.
Wall said the Saskatchewan Party government had investigated possible ways for marriage commissioners to decline performing same-sex “marriages” without infringing on the rights of the same-sex couples, according to the Leader-Post. However, ultimately they decided to stand by the court’s ruling that such an exemption would be unconstitutional.
““We talked about all of those issues and we’ve come to our decision,” he said.
One possible way for marriage commissioners to opt-out of performing same-sex “marriages” would have been the establishment of a “single-entry point” system, such as that used in Ontario. In such a system gay couples would never know that a commissioner had refused to “marry” them, since they would automatically be referred to a commissioner who supports gay “marriage.” But the Court said last week that such a system may not “stand up to court scrutiny.”
Sonier pointed out, however, that the court’s decision also stated that no participants in the hearing rejected the single-entry point proposal or deemed it “impractical, overly costly, or administratively unworkable.”
“There is a great likelihood that this alternative system will survive constitutional scrutiny,“ she said. She expressed hope that the government would continue to examine the case and join six other provinces and territories that offer accommodations to marriage commissioners.
David Anderson, MP in Swift Current (Cypress Hills-Grasslands) also expressed his disappointment at the government’s decision in a press release.
“The court’s attempt to privatize all religious, faith perspectives must be opposed. I am very disappointed that the Province chose not to challenge it. We must demand better and insist on equality of rights,” he said.
“No person who has an active faith perspective keeps that as ‘private’ and separate from all other areas of their life. The idea is laughable – to live with one set of beliefs and to act in a way contrary to them has a name in our society – hypocrite,” he said.
Muriel Nielsen, president of the Saskatchewan Pro-life Association (SPLA), told LifeSiteNews.com, “Morgan is responding to the minority…we need to get out there and start demanding things.”
“I’m surprised that Morgan is supporting this,” echoed Marcy Millette, vice-president. “It’s a major disappointment in what we thought the Sask Party and our Justice Minister could do.”
When asked about how the government’s decision might affect party support, Wall acknowledged, “We’re in an election year and we’re going to work very hard to earn the support of Saskatchewan people and the great thing about a democracy is people get to decide whether or not we’re worthy of that support.
“Some will measure social issues and some will measure the economy and some will measure both, and we’re going to just continue to do our best to earn people’s support.”
The Honourable Brad Wall
Premier of Saskatchewan
226 Legislative Building
CANADA S4S 0B3
Telephone: (306) 787-9433