REGINA, February 3, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A second Saskatchewan marriage commissioner has filed a complaint with the provincial Human Rights Commission after being told he must perform same-sex “weddings” or resign.
Regina Marriage Commissioner Orville Nichols added his complaint today to that of Prince Albert commissioner Bruce Goertzen, who filed his complaint Friday.
Nichols argues that, although marriage commissioners are technically self-employed, the province actually prescribes the fees set, the location and hours of work, so commissioners are in reality employees of the province. As such, commissioners are entitled to protection from human rights violations, as are all employees in the province.
“It is my contention that Justice Minister Mr. Frank Quennell is in violation of both the spirit and the letter of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when he refused to make provisions for the freedom of religion for myself and other Marriage Commissioners,” Nichols’ complaint states.
“Same-sex couples would not face an unreasonable burden if they initially came across a marriage commissioner who was unwilling to perform a marriage ceremony for them,” Nichols argues. “A couple may phone a marriage commissioner and find they are not able to perform a ceremony for any number reasons.”
“My religious beliefs have not been hidden from anyone. As a person who performs a duty for the residents of Saskatchewan, I respectfully request that my religious beliefs be upheld, in the same manner as others would expect their views to be upheld.” Meanwhile Goertzen also contends that forcing commissioners to toe the line or resign is a violation of his human rights.
“I don’t deny other people have rights too, but when you give one person a right, you shouldn’t take a right away from another,” he said, according to an Edmonton Sun report.
“I contend that this order by the Justice Department discriminates against my freedom of religion and therefore is a violation of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, not to mention a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Goertzen’s complaint stated.
Saskatoon Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott said in January that the government should be willing to accommodate the religious convictions of its marriage commissioners, as prescribed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. “You’ve got specifically the conscience right and religion right that are very explicit (in the charter),” Vellacott said.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage: Saskatchewan Commissioners Resigning or Refusing to “Marry” Homosexuals