Monday, July 6, 2009

Wrong on so many levels: Saskatchewan tries to legislate anti-gay discrimination...

Some conservatives need to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept full equality and fairness for everyone. When it comes to picking and choosing which groups should receive special treatment (religious conservatives) and which should receive second-class status (LGBT people, the poor, artists, etc.), their records in various jurisdictions are clear. So consistent is their opposition to justice and equality, it reinforces the opinion that prejudice and willful ignorance are cornerstones of the conservative movement.

Saskatchewan’s conservative government is the latest to show its regressive colours, sending proposed legislation to allow publicly-licensed marriage commissioners the right to discriminate based on their “religious beliefs” to the courts for feedback.

I quite agree with this Star Phoenix editorial calling the move by Justice Minister Don Morgan cowardly.

Apparently the goons who run the Saskatchewan Party government see gains to be made by going to bat for dinosaurs who’d love to return to an era when the word ‘citizenship’ didn’t include LGBT people.

I hope the court quickly shoots down this misguided proposal as unconstitutional. If a Muslim public servant in Saskatchewan deemed it against his “religion” to serve Jewish residents, would that be acceptable? According to the spirit of this proposal, yes. Virtually any form of discrimination could be justified based on "religious beliefs." If we allow religious public servants to discriminate based on sexual orientation, how could we deny them the right to discriminate against other groups they find objectionable?

Centuries ago, we determined that there should be a clear division between church and state. We’ve also determined that public servants need to serve all people in their community, not just those they deem worthy. Apparently, those lessons of history have been lost on Saskatchewan Party officials.

If a publicly-licensed and publicly-paid official is not willing to carry out his or her duties, including providing marriage services to qualified same-sex couples, that public servant needs to resign. Allowing a public servant to discriminate based on vague, highly subjective “religious beliefs” would create a terrible precedent that must never be allowed.

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