Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioner Sues Over Requirement to Perform Same-Sex “Marriages”
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask., November 27, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Marriage Commissioner Orville Nichols is suing the Saskatchewan government after being fined $2,500 by a Saskatchewan human rights tribunal for refusing to perform a same-sex "marriage."
Mr. Nichols has been a marriage commissioner since 1983 and his belief in the importance of marriage has led him in the past to refuse some couples seeking even natural marriage who, he said, did not take it seriously enough. He has argued that those commissioners appointed before same-sex “marriage” became legal should be exempted from performing homosexual “wedding” ceremonies.
When two men asked him to "marry" them in 2005, Mr. Nichols told them that he could not perform a same-sex ceremony because it conflicted with his religious beliefs; he instead referred them to another commissioner who performed the ceremony on the same date the homosexuals requested of Mr. Nichols.
The tribunal said in its ruling in May that Mr. Nichols had contravened section 31.4(b) of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and that his refusal based on religious belief conflicted with his duties as a public officer. "The Commission stands by its position that to allow public officials to insert their personal morality when determining who should and who should not receive the benefit of law undermines human rights in Saskatchewan beyond the issue of same-sex marriages."
After filing a statement of claim against the province on Monday in Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench, Mr. Nichols’ lawyer, Philip Fourie, said in a press release that the lawsuit claims the government is violating the Charter rights of Saskatchewan marriage commissioners. The suit demands the province give marriage commissioners the legal right to not perform same-sex “marriages” if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
"This is clearly a horrible violation of Charter rights," Fourie said. "This problem can be easily fixed by simply allowing the commissioners a right to decline and pass on the ceremony request to another commissioner."
Fourie noted the lawsuit will not be seeking a large monetary award, but rather will focus on confirming the right to freedom of religion for public servants. "I’m very confident. The law is on our side," he said.
Fourie criticized Premier Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party for at first condemning the former NDP government’s position in favor of same-sex "marriage" and stating they would support marriage commissioners in refusing to perform homosexual “weddings,” and then doing nothing when they came to power in the last election.
"The government promised to be different but they are not acting any differently at all on this issue," Fourie said in a Canwest report. "The pendulum has swung too far in favour of same-sex people and against people of faith. What is next? Will the government be invading churches ... and forcing pastors and ministers and priests in churches to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies?"
The case is to be heard in Prince Albert on Dec. 23, 2008.
See previous LifeSiteNews,com coverage:
Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioner Fined For Refusing To "Marry" Homosexuals
$5000 Fine Sought For Christian Marriage Commissioner Who Declined Gay Couple
Marriage Commissioner: “I Couldn’t Live With Myself if I Were to Perform Same Sex Marriages”