All rights are supposed to be equal, says MP David Anderson
Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson is voicing his opposition to the Saskatchewan Government’s decision to accept Court of Appeal’s marriage commissioner ruling.
“ The court’s conclusion that forcing Commissioners to perform marriages was appropriate because it did not threaten their private religious beliefs, or their right to worship, guarantees that religious and faith rights will be treated as a second-tier human right in the future. This decision will ensure the ongoing denigration of a right that has played a major role in creating the country we have today,” Anderson said in a Jan. 18 press release.
“I was trying to address the issue of religious freedom and religious rights. In our charter these rights are all supposed to be equal.
“ There’s not supposed to be a hierarchy of rights.
“My focus on this is that it is not fair to expect that there are a group of people who cannot bring their opinions into the public realm, in this age and this country that we live in. A diversity of opinions and a divergence of opinions should and can be respected and we should be able to make the accommodation to handle that.
“People who have a faith commitment, whatever it is - and everybody has values - expect to be able to live in a way that is consistent with what they believe, so there’s an accommodation for both the religious rights of people who have an objection to this, as well as for the rights of people who choose to get married.
“ The province said they were looking for a way to accommodate. They were looking at bringing a couple of pieces of legislation forward, they asked the court to rule on them before they brought them forward, and the court said no, this does not fit. And it was interesting.
“ The judges in their decision basically said that because requiring these marriage commissioners to perform these marriages did not impact their private religious beliefs or their opportunity of meeting with people of similar beliefs, it did not impact their religious rights.
With the new ruling, a marriage commissioner might possibly feel an uncomfortable obligation that conflicts with his or her faith perspective, and will be forced by this ruling to weigh that conflict against the prospect of job loss if the obligation to perform a marriage is not met.
“My point was that the court’s attempt to privatize religious faith perspective must be opposed. The marriage commissioners themselves have said that. I think that there was an opportunity here to reach an accommodation,” Anderson said.