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Marriage Commissioners must wed same-sex couples
January 19, 2011 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Right before the 10th anniversary of the first same-sex marriage in Canada, Saskatchewan's highest court has ruled that a proposed law allowing provincial marriage commissioners to refuse to wed same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Thecourt.ca gives its thoughts on the decision and the social context surrounding it.
posted by Lemurrhea (40 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
So how does this human rights thing work?

-american citizen
posted by hal_c_on at 9:41 AM on January 19, 2011


Fucking socialists! Living in our very continent, too!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2011


Of course it's unconstitutional. Why should a government employee be allowed to refuse to do their job because of personal beliefs? That's like a police officer refusing to arrest a drug dealer because they believe drugs should be legalized.

When your personal beliefs conflict with your job description, you either get over it, or change jobs. You don't get to continue to draw a paycheck and shirk your duties.
posted by explosion at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Here's the juicy bit:
The Court emphasized that marriage commissioners act as government officials, not private individuals, when they perform marriage ceremonies. It also pointed out that the obligation to solemnize same-sex marriages does not affect or interfere with the core elements of a commissioner’s religious freedom: the freedom to hold beliefs and the freedom to worship.
Now let's see if we can get this done in Alberta. (Hahahahaha, yeah right.)
posted by Zozo at 9:50 AM on January 19, 2011


Zozo -- there's nothing to "get done" in Alberta, or anywhere else in Canada at the moment. This was a reference decision whereby the court was asked to look at legislative amendments that the Sask. legislature was considering adopting in relation to the narrow role of marriage commissioners. Alberta has no such comparable legislation either on the books or has proposed it, to the best of my knowledge. And unless the SCC reverses the decision of the Sask CA (highly unlikely), no such legislation is likely to ever be proposed.
posted by modernnomad at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it it wasn't for Celine Dion, Canada would be my favourite country.
posted by londonmark at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, Canada. What with your curling, and your gay marriage, and your health care, and even Rush...

And you're just right THERE. I mean, I'm not in the no-constitution zone, but I nearly am...

You're a beautiful seducer, you are.

But then I look around at winter at THIS latitude, and wonder whether it would really be worth it.
posted by hippybear at 9:58 AM on January 19, 2011


Canada gay-married us on January 2, 2005, about six months after California annulled the marriage we had had in February 2004. We found our marriage commissioner on the internets, and she met us at Little Sister's bookstore, which is run by friends of ours, and married us there.

We love you, Canada.
posted by rtha at 10:16 AM on January 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


But then I look around at winter at THIS latitude, and wonder whether it would really be worth it.

Just wait until more of the global warming kicks in, and then we'll all be tanning on the granite beaches of Hudson Bay...
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:22 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just wait until more of the global warming kicks in, and then we'll all be tanning on the granite beaches of Hudson Bay...

"The Detroit Riviera" has a nice ring to it.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Canada makes me wonder what the US would be like if we had a sense of humor, and a sense of decency. I don't know, maybe we'd be like Canada. That would be pretty cool.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:35 AM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


When your personal beliefs conflict with your job description, you either get over it, or change jobs. You don't get to continue to draw a paycheck and shirk your duties.

A number of US based pharmacists apparently didn't get your memo. Sadly.
posted by phearlez at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2011


I think the Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioners that refused to perform the unions really had a poor understanding of their jobs. As mentioned in the blog linked above, the position of Marriage Commissioner is "a secular position that was created to perform non-religious civil marriages as an alternative to religious solemnization."

Priests or religious officials, as I understand it, can't be forced to perform same-sex marriages. Perhaps the Marriage Commissioners in question should look into becoming religious officiants, performing religious ceremonies.
posted by Kabanos at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Before we get too many Canada rulz America droolz comments, in the states where same-sex marriage is legal, county officials who record marriages are not allowed to deny same-sex couples.
posted by thewittyname at 10:45 AM on January 19, 2011


One would hope that'd be true, thewittyname, but it is not.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:00 AM on January 19, 2011


Oh, damn, should've read my own link. It's not true in Britain, at least.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:01 AM on January 19, 2011


I heartily applaud the Court's decision.

Sigh. If only decency and justice were contagious.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2011


But then I look around at winter at THIS latitude, and wonder whether it would really be worth it.

FWIW, Canada extends to a latitude further south than the northern borders of California and Nevada. If it weren't for this fucking "lake effect"...
posted by Sys Rq at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course it's unconstitutional. Why should a government employee be allowed to refuse to do their job because of personal beliefs? That's like a police officer refusing to arrest a drug dealer because they believe drugs should be legalized.

Are they government employees, or private contractors in a heavily regulated industry?

I'm not certain about Saskatchewan, but the case could definitely be made for the latter in some other provinces.
posted by ripley_ at 11:12 AM on January 19, 2011


But then I look around at winter at THIS latitude, and wonder whether it would really be worth it.

Just move to the Turks and Caicos and wait.
posted by neal at 11:24 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My wife and I were the first gay marriage in our city (Kamloops, BC) when it was legalized there in 2003. We were 21 and 22, and when we saw the news we looked at each other and said "Do you want to get married?" "Sure!" "How about Thursday?" "Sounds great!" We found a marriage commissioner out of the phone book and met her at the park with about six friends of ours. Asked a homeless guy to move off the bench, got married, went for delicious sandwiches. It was lovely.

We don't live in Kamloops any more, but apparently every couple of years when the gay marriage thing comes up in the news, the local paper publishes our photo. How's that for posterity. :)

(We are celebrating 11 years together this year, although only 8 married)
posted by arcticwoman at 11:32 AM on January 19, 2011 [21 favorites]


modernnomad, marriage commissioners are allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples in Alberta. That's what I meant.
posted by Zozo at 11:41 AM on January 19, 2011


But then I look around at winter at THIS latitude, and wonder whether it would really be worth it.
posted by hippybear at 9:58 AM on January 19


I live on the "Wet" Coast of Canada and I'd wager we've had less snow this year than you (down there where your profile says you live). The south island is lovely this time of year.
posted by smartypantz at 11:54 AM on January 19, 2011


"Canada makes me wonder what the US would be like if we had a sense of humor, and a sense of decency. "

Don't wait too long to come here and find out, because Stephen Harper is against those things, the good work of the Sask. court notwithstanding.
posted by sneebler at 11:57 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, damn, should've read my own link. It's not true in Britain, at least.

Not any more it isn't. Court of Appeal overturned the Employment Tribunal. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2011


Wow arcticwoman, that is cool. Congrats on the (upcoming?) 8 year anniversary!
posted by MustardTent at 12:52 PM on January 19, 2011


Asked a homeless guy to move off the bench, got married, went for delicious sandwiches.

Gay gentrification!
posted by Kabanos at 12:59 PM on January 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Being a fag-I feel comfortable saying I am so damn tired of hearing about the queers plight to marry. Missouri was the first state in the Union to constitutionally ban gay marriage, and I voted for it. I felt then, and still do- that we have bigger problems. We, as more than Americans, as Humans, as Earthlings, are at a turning point were all that is great about this planet, with it's billions of little ape minds, and vast ray of life, diverse and once abundant could be destroyed the world over. Imagine a world as depicted in "The Road." Okay-maybe a bit extreme, but I am pretty damn sure I could list 100 things more important that gay-marriage that affect the American way of life. It's like being at a dinner party, having a drunken great time-and complaining that the soup spoons don't match the tea spoons, WHILE THE KITCHEN IS ABLAZE! But nobody notices the fire that's now spread to the dinning room curtains, they're still focused on the spoons. I also hate those breeders who spout out shit about "traditional" marriage. Let's talk about traditional marriage. (I wish more homo's would!) For thousands of years men owned their wifes, had multiple wifes, and traded daughters as wifes to favorable families for more power. Would you like to stay that kind of traditional? Or are you a decent person, and realize that is wrong? Even farther back, (before the Great Patriarch Age some 3500+ years ago) when societies were ruled by a matriarch, women had multiple husbands. Nothing about marriage has ever been truly "Traditional", other than it's perception of requirement. I have great faith that the battle for equal marriage will be won, I just worry we are fighting over the wrong things at the wrong time. Until our larger degenerate ways are mend, I care not for the plight of queers. (Have you seen American Culture? Gay is everywhere! Everywhere! It's not going away.)

I say again, to my fellow Americans...THE FUCKING HOUSE IS ON FIRE!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:58 PM on January 19, 2011


PS-Hooray for Canada!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:59 PM on January 19, 2011


Missouri was the first state in the Union to constitutionally ban gay marriage, and I voted for it.

Wait, you voted to ban it? Because we have bigger problems?

(We do indeed have bigger problems, and I am far from the only dyke who is gay-married AND YET has personal and political problems with Marriage. I'd be much happier with a "civil unions for all, religious marriage for whoever can do that" scenario. Also, the fight comes when it comes. The fight for marriage equality is here right now, and all the shouting in the world about how it isn't the most important issue - true! - isn't going to make it go away. Better to light a candle - i.e., put your energies into the struggles you feel are most important - than to curse the darkness.)
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW, Canada extends to a latitude further south than the northern borders of California and Nevada. If it weren't for this fucking "lake effect"...

Yeah, barely, if you count Pelee Island. Otherwise, the furthest south Canadian city is still Windsor, which is still bite-ass cold and north of the 42nd parallel (which delineates the Californian border).

And it's not like Michigan isn't too fucking bite-ass cold to move to as it is (though my last visit home this winter, the temperature was surprisingly mild).
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on January 19, 2011


The fact that there are bigger problems don't negate whatever importance the smaller ones have. Yes, we are facing catastrophic climate change, but advocating against greenhouse gas emissions (or whatever) doesn't preclude also advocating for my right to visit my wife in the hospital if she is sick. Macro-level, big-picture issues affect us all in big ways, but micro-level issues affect us too - in much more intimate ways.

I think that recognizing a whole group of people as people, with all the rights that people get, is a whole lot more important than mismatched cutlery.
posted by arcticwoman at 4:30 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, Canada!
posted by New England Cultist at 4:54 PM on January 19, 2011


Yeah, barely, if you count Pelee Island.

I do, on account of it's ours.

Otherwise, the furthest south Canadian city is still Windsor, which is still bite-ass cold and north of the 42nd parallel (which delineates the Californian border).

Yeah, sorry about that. You're absolutely right, of course; Windsor is indeed a whopping 0.2 degrees north of 42. That's still considerably south of the latitude in question, mind you, but still. And yes, it's cold, but then, I did mention that, didn't I?

/derail

Yay, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:32 PM on January 19, 2011


But then I look around at winter at THIS latitude, Nickelback and wonder whether it would really be worth it.
posted by juiceCake at 9:46 PM on January 19, 2011


That reason is entirely valid, yes.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:06 PM on January 19, 2011


"I do, on account of it's ours."

But nobody lives there! (Well, like, 300 wicker-man worshippers).

"And yes, it's cold, but then, I did mention that, didn't I?"

Lake effect is about the amount of precipitation; it's actually warmer than similar latitudes not on a body of water. That's why Michigan (and much of Ontario) isn't as cold as Wisconsin or Minnesota. Likewise, why Oregon and Washington are warmer than Montana and why BC's warmer than Alberta.

(On the other hand, for every Nickleback, you've got, like, four Black Mountain/Arcade Fire/Eric's Trip/Deadly Snakes. And health care. And Saskatchewan Court of Appeal…)

Sorry, I just had this conversation with a girl I met a week ago who is moving here from "Toronto" because there's nothing to do there. I said,"Well, c'mon, Toronto's pretty cool. It's not like you're in Hamilton or anything," and she said, "Actually, I am in Hamilton," and we had to have that awkward moment where no one else knew where these places were and why it was kinda frontin' to say Toronto when you're from Hamilton (like saying Detroit when you're from Ann Arbor, or LA when you're from Corona).
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


HOW DID IT GET BURNED, KLANGKLANGSTON? HOW DID IT GET BURNED?
posted by phearlez at 10:59 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Hamilton but live in Toronto. I don't go back there except for family emergencies and events. There is more to do here definitely but I wouldn't go to the States unless I was constantly breathing out dollar bills. That said, housing in Hamilton is bloody amazing in terms of prices and here, well, let's just say, not.
posted by juiceCake at 12:37 PM on January 20, 2011


Coincidentally, right as I read this my housemate commented on an old postcard he saw, which says: "She asked me to kiss her somewhere dirty, so I took her to Hamilton."
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:54 AM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


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