By Gudrun Schultz
ST. JOHN, New Brunswick, March 5, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A private member’s bill that would allow provincial marriage commissioners to decline presiding at homosexual “marriages” has reignited the same-sex “marriage” debate in the province, the Telegraph-Journal reported March 3.
Conservative MLA David Alward said his proposed amendment to the Marriage Act would grant rights to commissioners who are opposed to same-sex “marriage” on religious grounds.
Homosexual activist groups have responded to the proposal with outrage, saying the legislation would grant rights to individuals who “discriminate” and would be an affront to the “equal marriage” movement.
“It’s insulting to the gay and lesbian population,” said Allison Brewer, a same-sex “marriage” advocate and former NDP leader in New Brunswick. “I think it’s frivolous. This would not stand up to a Charter challenge. All it represents is a slap in the face.”
A court challenge to settle the issue is likely, with no objections from the Liberals to the bill.
“I believe this legislation most certainly will stand up to a legal challenge,” said Alward.
“In no way does the bill, in any way, infringe on the rights of the gay and lesbian couples to be married.”
Alward said the amendment to the Marriage Act is necessary to prevent the prosecution of marriage commissioners who exercise conscientious objection to same-sex marriage by refusing to perform homosexual “marriages”—in Saskatchewan earlier this year a Regina marriage clerk was accused of discrimination by a same-sex couple after he refused to perform a “marriage” for them. His case is now before a Human Rights Tribunal.
“My personal views on same-sex marriage have nothing to do with this bill,” Alward said. “[The Saskatchewan case] certainly raised the issue.”
New Brunswick Attorney General T.J. Burke spoke out in support of the amendment, saying he saw no conflicts with the Charter of Rights an Freedoms regarding same-sex equality issues.
“We’re not going to oppose the bill. The bill provides preference in choice for individuals who wish to perform same-sex marriages and who wish to decline. There’s nothing really that’s going to change with respect to the amendment,” Burke said.
“I don’t fear any repercussions because… we’re looking at all of the legislation to make sure it complies with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure same-sex equality.”
“As far as I’m concerned, until the Supreme Court of Canada says employment trumps an individuals’ religious rights, then the religious rights of the employee trump the position of employment.”
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
New Brunswick Latest Casualty in Canadian Judicial Crusade against Marriage
Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioner under Investigation for Unwillingness to Perform Gay ‘Marriages’
Saskatchewan Commissioners Resigning or Refusing to “Marry” Homosexuals
Marriage Commissioner: “I Couldn’t Live With Myself if I Were to Perform Same Sex Marriages”