Gay marriage is legal in Saskatchewan. YAY!
A marriage commissioner who refused to marry a gay couple was fined $2500 for discrimination. Makes sense.
The marriage commissioner in question has launched an appeal with the Government of Saskatchewan, in essence saying that *he* is being discriminated against in terms of his religious beliefs. Okay.
Now, the Saskatchewan government is re-examining (see that link above, there) making an exception to the ruling of the previous court, that as a public official, he doesn’t get to pick and choose which parts of the law he wishes to uphold. Right.
First of all, as everyone knows, many Christians pick and choose which parts of the bible they want to uphold, so why is anyone surprised that this marriage commissioner wants to pick and choose what parts of civil law he wants to obey?
Secondly, what’s the big deal? So some marriage commissioners want to be ‘specialists’. We don’t get all up in arms when our GP refuses to do a colonoscopy, choosing instead to refer you to an arse doctor. We don’t get all up in arms when our history professors refuse to teach particle physics.
We all get our knickers in a knot as soon as someone says the word ‘discrimination’. We’ve turned that word into a kind of curse; a swear word. It’s not quite as bad as the eff word or the cee word, to be sure, but if someone accuses you of ‘discrimination’, it’s essentially a social (and sometimes legal) sentence. Discrimination doesn’t have to be a bad thing, people.
I do discriminatory things *every day*. In addition to meaning “to treat differently” (which isn’t always a bad thing…more on that later), Discriminate also means the ability to recognise differences, and distinguishing one thing from another. What’s so wrong with treating people differently? This is something that has always blown my mind. I treat my family differently from the way I treat strangers (I don’t *often* yell “GET YOUR GODDAMNED ELBOWS OFF THE GODDAMNED TABLE!” at people I don’t know. Sometimes, but not often.
I’m going off the rails here.
My point is that professionals discriminate *all the time* in what they do. When you become an engineer, in, what, your second or third year, you have to discriminate “against” all the other disciplines. So what’s wrong with allowing a civil servant to discriminate, to specialise?
Well, I guess you could argue that police officers don’t get to choose which criminals to arrest. But they do. Every day. Sometimes, you don’t get stopped and fined for jaywalking, f’rinstance. Granted, police officers who choose to arrest you or not to arrest you based on how unpink you are is kind of douchey (should that be douchy?).
I guess there’s the argument that elected officials and their staff don’t get to choose which parts of society they serve. But they do. Every day. My elected officials don’t, for the most part, represent me *at all well* in their work. In fact, they kind of totally suck at it. They refuse to represent me, not because of my gender or my religious beliefs or whether I prefer innies or outies, but because we have differing opinions on what “they” should do with “my” money.
So, I mean, yes, it’s terrible that someone refuses to perform gay marriages. Particularly a civil servant. To be honest, I think it’s shameful that anyone still thinks “that way” (that backwards way). I am also of the opinion that until the church changes its position on what marriage is for, gay marriage should not be a religious ceremony. But THAT’S NOT THE ARGUMENT HERE. The argument is whether or not someone can refuse to perform a civil service because they have moral (or social, or religious, or whatever) objections to it.
In Canada, we uphold freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. No matter how shameful and backwards someone’s action is, as long as no harm is done, you should be able to uphold your own religious beliefs wherever and whenever you want. But let’s think about this – the marriage commissioner who refused to perform gay marriages on religious grounds…what’s he been doing all these years? Sneaking religion into civil services? Isn’t that illegal? If I wanted a civil union and the Justice of the Peace started talking about prayer and God, I think I’d hit him/her with my matron of honour and take the jerk to court. Some people just don’t want to invite God to their weddings and THAT’S FINE. You can’t sneak Him in. People notice that kind of thing, you know.
In fact, if I had been married by this guy, after having read some of the stuff he’s said about his other civil marriages, I might file a discrimination lawsuit against him too. If he’s been offering prayers on my behalf when I don’t want them offered (I am not an atheist, but let’s just pretend for a moment that I am), he’s being incredibly offensive.
Again, sorry. I’m derailed. My point is this as long as no one is harmed, there oughtn’t be a problem. Actually, no, that’s not my point. My point is the question. Which was:
What’s wrong with allowing JPs or Marriage Commissioners to ‘specialise’? Is it just a gay thing? Would it be worse/better if it was a race thing?
Ultimately, I don’t even know what *I* think about the whole thing – I mean, I think it was shameful for the Commissioner to turn away a gay couple from his services. I think it was good that he stood up for his religious beliefs. I think that maybe being a marriage commissioner was not the right vocation for this guy, and that maybe he ought to have gone into the clergy. I think that the question of whether or not gay folks should be able to marry each other is ludicrous. I think the marriage commissioner gets to feel that his religious freedom has been tramped upon. I think that his religious freedom oughtn’t have come in to the equation at all, because he was supposed to have been performing a God-free service. But, you know, conscience and all. I think it’s unfortunate that the couple wanting to get married were affronted (after all, just because something’s legal doesn’t mean folks have to like it – it’s legal to own handguns in this country, but you’ll never force me to like them). I think a lot of things, and could probably argue myself in to and out of either point of view.