Freedom of religion is imperiled
A Manitoba marriage commissioner who lost his licence last year when he refused to perform homosexual “marriages,” has taken his fight for religious freedom to the Court of Queen’s Bench. The province ordered Kevin Kisilowsky, 36, to conduct “marriage” ceremonies for same-sex couples or hand in his licence, under a 2004 policy adopted by the province following the legalization of homosexual “marriage.” An evangelical Christian, Kisilowsky said his right to freedom of religion under the Charter was violated by the policy.
“I’m just one of these Canadians who’s finally had enough,” Kisilowsky said in an interview with the Winnipeg Sun’s Tom Brodbeck, published Oct. 18. “Enough’s enough.”
While the government permits churches and religious clergy to opt out of performing same-sex “marriages,” it doesn’t allow individuals the same freedom. That is a clear violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Brodbeck says, which guarantees “freedom of conscience and religion” to every individual.
Kisilowsky filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission in 2004, arguing that the province was discriminating against his religious beliefs by forcing him to conduct marriage ceremonies that went against his faith.
The commission rejected his argument. Kisilowsky is now appealing in court and has said he will take his case to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Brodbeck points out that anyone over the age of 18 can get a marriage commissioner licence, including temporary weekend licences, which allow them to perform a marriage. Having the licence doesn’t obligate them to use it, unless they’re asked to perform a same-sex ceremony — in that case, the province says they must agree to participate.
“I think of what (former federal justice minister) Irwin Cotler said a couple of years ago,” Kisilowsky said. “He said you can’t allow equality rights to trump religious rights and yet that’s exactly what’s happened.”
The outcome of the case is likely to have a significant impact on the religious freedom of marriage commissioners across the country. At least 12 Manitoba commissioners resigned after the province introduced the policy in 2004. In Saskatchewan, at least eight resigned and resignations followed similar policies in Newfoundland and British Columbia.
This article originally appeared Oct. 19 at LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted with permission.