Every so often, a decision is made in another country with marriage equality, which the Religious Right in the United States then adds to its whining arsenal, which they use to frighten their followers about What Will Happen when marriage equality comes to this country. I predict that this will be one of those court cases. It’s actually a completely sensible ruling:
Saskatchewan’s top court has said marriage commissioners cannot use religion to say “no” to nuptials for same-sex couples.
The Appeal Court had been asked by the government to rule on a proposed provincial law that would have allowed commissioners to cite religious grounds in refusing to marry gays or lesbians.
The appeal panel’s unanimous decision released Monday said the law would be unconstitutional and would amount to discrimination.
[President of the Gay and Lesbian Community Cory] Oxelgren said marriage commissioners perform a civil service and are not supposed to discriminate.
“If the government allows that to go ahead, what’s there to stop another person in another department or another agency from saying, ‘Well, I don’t agree with this so I would like to opt out.’ The answer is you can’t. You are an agent of the government and you follow the laws.”
It really is that simple. Just as in the United States, religious congregations are pretty much able to do what they want within their churches, but don’t get to make up new rules when they act as part of secular society [see: Catholic charities, that pavilion in New Jersey, etc.], this court case isn’t infringing on what churches are able to do and believe. It’s simply saying to commissioners who work for the government, “You have a job you were hired to do, and these are the laws. Don’t like it? Get a new job.”
One of the judges made a really interesting point in her opinion:
Justice Gene Ann Smith said the religious objection was secondary.
“These marriage commissioners are not themselves compelled to engage in the sexual activity they consider objectionable. Their objection is that it is sinful for others to engage in such activity,” wrote Smith.
“It is therefore arguable that the interference with the right of marriage commissioners to act in accordance with their religious belief … is trivial or insubstantial, in that it is interference that does not threaten actual religious beliefs or conduct.”
Imagine that! The religious lives and practices of the Religious Right don’t automatically include the lives and practices of other people who don’t share their beliefs? It’s so sane…Tony Perkins will never accept it.