Thursday, May 13, 2010

No Sympathy

Being forced to treat all people equally if you represent the government? The horror... the horror.

REGINA — A Saskatchewan lawyer told the province's highest court Thursday that marriage commissioners who refuse to marry gay couples are the ones who are being "unfairly discriminated against."

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal is set to rule on whether commissioners can be forced to perform same-sex marriages against their religious beliefs.

The provincial government referred the question to the court after a marriage commissioner refused to marry a gay couple in 2008, igniting a storm of controversy.

Dale Blenner-Hassett, the lawyer representing the Canadian Fellowship of Churches and Ministers, said same-sex couples have the right to get married, but commissioners should also have rights.

"We're dealing with some marriage commissioners that we believe have been unfairly discriminated against," he told the five appeal court judges.

The Saskatchewan Party government is asking the court to consider two versions of the proposed legislation — one exempting all marriage commissioners, and another exempting only those who were commissioners when gay marriage was legalized in 2004.

"It's up to the court to decide," said Justice Minister Don Morgan.

But if the court finds there are constitutional issues with both draft bills, the province would force all marriage commissioners to perform same-sex marriages, Morgan said.

NDP justice critic Frank Quennell said the proposed legislation would allow marriage commissioners to discriminate against other couples.

"Clearly, if the legislation was approved by the Court of Appeal and passed by the Government of Saskatchewan, marriage commissioners could refuse to provide marriages to interracial couples or couples whose religions are different . . . as long as they claimed a religious motivation," he told reporters. "I don't believe it's constitutional."(Emphasis added.)

Mr Quennell's argument is unassailable. To those shaking their heads and saying 'Nope, nope nope, not the same thing...' screw you, it's exactly the same thing.

This is an attempt at legalized bigotry, it is doomed to fail in the courts, again, and so represents the government of Saskatchewan spending hundreds of thousands of their taxpayer's dollars on a legal battle they know will fail, in order to cater to the most reactionary and intolerant elements of their own base.

Bottom Line: Marriage Commissioners are licensed representatives of the state. If you don't want to treat all couples equally and perform legal marriages get a different goddamn job!

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