Thursday, October 19, 2006

Enough is Enough

At the risk of flogging this poor horse to death one more time, I would like to point out an interesting article in Wednesday's Winnipeg Sun.

Tom Brodbeck covers the story of "Kevin Kisilowsky, a 36-year-old Stonewall (Manitoba) man who had his marriage commissioner licence pulled by the province last year because he refused to perform gay marriage ceremonies".

Mr. Kisilowsky feels that his religious rights have been violated and is taking legal action. Therefore, this ambiguity about commissioners vs. clergy could come to a head as soon as next year.

Arthur Weinreb, in his editorial Dora Meets the Met (Canada Free Press) makes some excellent points for forcing marriage commissioners to perform gay marriages:

"...a civil servant may hold a genuine belief that mixed marriages are wrong. If those who perform civil ceremonies are allowed to opt out of performing same sex marriages then they should equally be allowed to not have to officiate at a heterosexual marriage ceremony between one of their co-religionists and a member of a different religion. The principle is the same..."



O.K. I can buy that. Now, this is where things get interesting. Brodbeck states:

Marriage commissioners are not civil servants. In fact, anybody over the age of 18 can get a marriage commissioner licence, even a temporary one for the weekend.

The licence simply allows the person to solemnize a marriage.

They're not forced to do any marriages -- except same-sex ones, according to the province.


So to sum up, marriage commissioners are not civil servants, and they are allowed to perform marriages only when they wish to do so - except for same-sex marriages.



Now please explain to me how religious rights are not being trumped here?

22 comments:

Red Tory said...

Need it be pointed out that marriage commissioners are "agents of the government expected to uphold the law." Marriage commissioners are statutory officers, who must carry out their duties regardless of their personal opinions. Police officers, prosecutors, and ministers of justice can't decide what part of the law they like and just administer that part of the law.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

"agents of the government expected to uphold the law."

And that information came from where?

Brian said...

Afraid (very afraid actually) I agree with Red Tory on this one. It is completely different for a minister/priest/amam to have to perform such duties, and a marriage commisioner. Marriage commisioner performs marriage based on adherence to law. SSM is law of the land.

This is like that Muslim cop who wouldn't guard the Israeli embassy in London - sorry about you luck, but it's your job. Your on the governments payroll, not Gods.

liberal supporter said...

In BC they don't do temporary appointments because of the training programme required. They are appointed for 5 years to fill vacancies. There are probably some requirements to be active.

http://snipurl.com/zt9d

Even when they outsource the function, the same considerations for civil servants should apply.

If you want to do marriages but not same sex ones, get ordained. Either in an existing church, or start your own.

A bonus is that you can get the tax exemptions that churches enjoy.

Your church can fund Charter based challenges with its tax free income, and nowadays your opponent can no longer get funded. A win-win!

Brian said...

"agents of the government expected to uphold the law."

And that information came from where?


Is that not what a marriage commisioner is? A justice of the peace, I thought.

If not, I may have to revoke all previous statements made in this thread.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Brian, I see your point and Red's. But how is it right that in Manitoba they have freedom to perform whichever marriages they want, except for same-sex marriage?

I wonder if they could refuse to do an interfaith marriage if they wanted. My point is that this is not so black and white as it may seem. It gets further muddied by the way marriage is conferred in different ways according to province.

Brian said...

I wonder if they could refuse to do an interfaith marriage if they wanted.

I guess my point is, they should not be allowed to refuse to perform any legal marriage.

However, re-reading your post, I see where you state they are not civil servants, and it seems to be a loose form of licensing. That is different.

I think maybe more information on who these people are, and what they are obligated to do is needed.

liberal supporter said...

The article says:
"They're not forced to do any marriages -- except same-sex ones, according to the province."

I don't believe that is the case. I would want to see what the province actually sent out. Do you think the notice the province sent out says "you can refuse to do any heterosexual marriages, except you can't refuse to do same sex ones"?

It would be more believeable that the notice is an update to the part of the training manual that says who can marry. The long list of relatives you cannot marry would still be there. The limit to 2 people would still be there. The age rules would still be there.

"Enough is enough" with this "gays want special treatment different from everyone else" stuff...

Red Tory said...

Joanne -- That information came from the Manitoba government.

You are being obtuse by standing your argument on Brodbeck's unfortunate choice of words and the way in which he chose to frame this argument.

I would also venture the opinion that your protagonist is grandstanding a little given how relatively rare SSM is. Has he ever been forced into this position? Government figures indicate that SSM constitutes 0.2% of marriages. Talk about a needle in a haystack. I seriously doubt whether a same-sex couple would seek an anti-gay Lutheran “outreach minister” to perform their ceremony.

Again... nice company you keep there Joanne.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Again... nice company you keep there Joanne.

Yeah, we meet every Friday night for a few beers.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Brian, yeah. It is confusing. I think the "civil servants" that Arthur Weinreb was referring to in his piece are justices of the peace and judges, etc.

I agree that such people should have to marry whomever as long as they fill the requirements, but the situation in Manitoba seems a bit different. But maybe I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time!

It would be great if someone from Manitoba could chime in here.

C. LaRoche said...

Joanne, this is a good post -- but remember that the marriage licencing itself is a government product. This has little to nothing to do with religion, really, and has more to do with government rules on a licence it gives out.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Laroche, that's true. I think the confusion arises with the way marriage is conferred according to each province. But yes, the law of the land says gays can get married, and nobody may discriminate, so I would say that this particular court challenge is doomed to fail.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Laroche, wait a minute. If what you say is true, how can even the clergy be excluded from having to perform SSM's?

Swift said...

Question for Red Tory. If Joanne's protagonist is just grandstanding why are all those complaining about the the discrimination just grandstanding? Afterall there are lots of commisioners who will marry gays and there are lots of halls without religious affiliations who will rent halls for lesbian receptions. Apparently some tactics should be reserved for the left.

Canadi-anna said...

brian -- I guess my point is, they should not be allowed to refuse to perform any legal marriage.

What if a marriage commissioner had a scheduling conflict etc. Would they be obliged to prove that they were somehow unavailable and not refusing out of religious protest.

It will be interesting to see how far this gets.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

What if a marriage commissioner had a scheduling conflict etc. Would they be obliged to prove that they were somehow unavailable and not refusing out of religious protest.

I was thinking the same thing. If they have the freedom to pick and choose which weddings they do, but they have to do all gay weddings, then what happens if they're sick? Do they still have to perform? Do they need a doctor's certificate?

liberal supporter said...

If they always had a scheduling conflict whenever blacks asked to be married, a pattern could be demonstrated in a disciplinary setting.

"there are lots of halls without religious affiliations who will rent halls for lesbian receptions."

And those with religious affliliations can refuse the gays. They just have to check before signing a binding contract.

"If they have the freedom to pick and choose which weddings they do, but they have to do all gay wedding"
Has it been established, aside from the wording of the article, that this is the case?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Has it been established, aside from the wording of the article, that this is the case?

That is what we need clarified. I sent an email to the Sun columnist, but haven't heard anything yet. Who else could we ask?

Mac said...

Marriage commissioners in BC are asked as part of their application, "Are you prepared to perform marriage ceremonies without reservation for all couples as authorized by law?" Presumably, if they aren't willing to do so, they will not be considered as marriage commissioners.

Marriage commissioners are not Justices of the Peace as marriage commissioners have but one function and power; to marry couples. Justices of the Peace have much more extensive training and empowerment.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mac, thanks for that. It would be interesting to know if M.C.'s in Manitoba are asked a similar question.

Anonymous said...

When a man and a woman want to get married, they will always choose someone who blesses them to perform the marriage ceremony. Government forcing marriage ministers to carry on ceremonies not agreeable to their conscience is totally wrong and restrictive. It brings us back to the olden days when certain group of people's right are taken away. This kind of government is dangerous and is regressive.

Anyone wishing to marry outside of the man-woman union has the freedom to choose any marriage minister who is happy for them and who is willing to do it. Marriage is supposed to be a happy occasion. The solution is to have the government to appoint a set of ministers who are happy to carry such marriages while leaving the current ones alone as there are far more man-woman marriages happening every year anyway. It is so unfair to force unwilling people to do things against their conscience.

Canada is a fair country and should reflect that through and through, not just for certain groups. We can work together regardless. I hope the government will reinstate those who have been forced to resign as a marriage minister. Honestly, those ministers did not change and have never been wrong in their work all along; it is the government that has changed and should not forced this change on those whose conscience is stifled upon. Using the law to force this upon those ministers who are not supportive is absolutely meaningless when there are those others who are supportive and who can do the same work happily. Please, government, let's keep everyone's freedom intact. Remember these words in our national anthem "O Canada, our home and native land .....the true north, strong and free...."

Peace to all.