A Saskatchewan marriage commissioner says the government will have to fire him if it expects him to perform same-sex marriages.
Larry Bjerland of the east-central Saskatchewan community of Rose Valley said he was "very disappointed" by a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal opinion Monday dealing with proposed changes to the Marriage Act.
The province's highest court ruled that two proposals from the Saskatchewan government that would let marriage commissioners opt out of performing same-sex marriages on religious grounds would be unconstitutional.
The decision was hailed by gay rights advocates, but Bjerland said it may result in his losing his appointment.
"I do not intend to marry any gay couples and so, therefore, I’m not going to resign," said Bjerland, who has been a marriage commissioner for 10 years. "They’ll have to fire me."
Marriage commissioners are appointed by the provincial justice minister to perform civil, non-religious ceremonies. But several commissioners, including Bjerland, have said they shouldn't have to marry gay and lesbian couples because it's contrary to their religious beliefs.
The dispute over the marriage commissioners' responsibilities has resulted in complaints to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
The provincial government asked the court to look at whether commissioners could opt out of same-sex ceremonies. The five judges who heard the case unanimously said no, declaring it would violate the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Justice Robert Richards, who wrote the main ruling in the case, said the religious rights of some marriage commissioners could be infringed somewhat if they can't opt out, but that's justified in this case to avoid a more blatant discrimination against gays and lesbians.
"It’s hard to understand how one group can have rights that the other one isn’t entitled to," said Bjerland. "I have no objection to gays getting married. My only objection is forcing me into doing it."
Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said the government is looking at its options, but appealing the court decision isn't one of them.SOURCE
This makes me rage. As a marriage commissioner (NOT a member of the clergy), it`s your job to provide this service, according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which mandates same sex marriage as a right. Get out of the fucking game if you can`t play by the rules, bigoted douchebag.