By Hilary White

  SASKATOON, April 19, 2007 ( – A Canadian Christian civil marriage commissioner in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Orville Nichols, could face up to $5000 in fines for having referred a homosexual couple to a different commissioner.

  Human Rights Commission lawyer Janice Gingell asked the tribunal to find that Nichols contravened the code and order him to pay $5,000 in compensation to the complainant.

  The 70 year-old Mr. Nichols used a clearly religious-based conscience argument for his refusal, saying his faith guides his daily life, that he prays and reads the Bible every day. He told the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal that his faith “takes first place” in his life. He said, “I couldn’t sleep or live with myself if I were to perform same-sex marriages.”

  The other commissioner to whom the two men were referred performed the ceremony on the same date they requested of Mr. Nichols.

  Nichols has said that he will not be among those who resign their commissions over the issue and that he is willing to take the matter to court. In Canadian Human Rights Tribunal cases, the party defending against a complaint is under a large disadvantage.

  While the government pays the costs of the complainant, the defendant must cover his own expenses and if the ruling goes against him, is normally charged with all the costs. Further costs are incurred if he should try to bring the matter to a legal court.

  The Tribunal, which is not under standard rules of evidence or judicial procedures, has yet to render a decision, though thus far, in most decisions in cases of this kind, the outcome has favoured the homosexual activists over religious conscientious objectors.

  Read related coverage:
  Marriage Commissioner: “I Couldn’t Live With Myself if I Were to Perform Same Sex Marriages”

  Saskatchewan Commissioners Resigning or Refusing to “Marry” Homosexuals