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Outgoing Letters and Public Statements

January 19, 2011

Re: Saskatchewan government accepts Court of Appeal decision on same-sex marriages
Letter printed in the Regina Leader-Post, January 20, 2011

The position taken by Justice Minister Morgan is very disappointing. He stated that the ‘single-entry point’ system proposed in the decision may not, according to the court, “stand up to court scrutiny”. It is important, however, that the court’s statement be considered in context.

While the court found that a refusal to accommodate the rights of marriage commissioners would result in a violation of their religious freedoms, it determined that this was necessary to ensure the equality rights of gay and lesbian individuals. At the same time, however, in response to the questions posed by the government, the court did propose a single-entry alternative.  As the decision states, “none of the other participants in the hearing...expressed concern that such an approach would be impractical, overly costly, or administratively unworkable.” Egale, one of the Intervenors, even recognized that such a system was operating in Toronto.

The court went on to explain that the single-entry point system would need to be assessed for constitutionality elsewhere. It would not have been appropriate for the court to do a Charter analysis of this alternative within the Reference decision. But given what the Supreme Court of Canada has written in previous decisions about the need to reconcile and balance competing rights in order to avoid creating a hierarchy of rights, there is a great likelihood that this alternative would have survived a constitutional challenge. It is our hope that the Minister will, upon a thorough examination of relevant case law, reconsider his position and find a solution that will ensure respect for all rights.

Faye Sonier,
Legal Counsel, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Outgoing Letters

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EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger writes regular commentaries about public policy issues. The EFC magazine Faith Today often publishes articles and essays that examine such issues.

   
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