That’s what I get for sleeping in…
The Globe & Mail is running a story which explains why the Busharper government’s promise to re-open the Marriage Debate has been delayed as long as it has. They’re devising a back-up plan.
The minority government’s Plan B has the cynical, American-style title of the Defence of Religions Act (pretty close to the U.S. Congress’ Defence of Marriage Act, eh?) The bill would insert exemptions to the already Charter-upheld Canadian laws which have provided for the legal marriage of same-sex couples. Under the proposal publicly-licensed officials, such as Justices of the Peace, would be allowed to refuse to marry such couples. In addition, church groups (remember the Knights of Columbus case in the west?) would now be allowed to refuse to rent their facilities to lesbian or gay couples.
The idea has quickly drawn criticism, even from government MPs including Garth Turner and – yes – Art Hanger, who correctly says that religious freedoms are already Charter-protected. Turner deserves kudos for defending himself against attacks from “Doctor” Charles McVety, President of both Canada ‘Christian’ College and the, thankfully tax emption-ineligible, Canada ‘Family’ Action Coalition (emphases mine).
The bill wouldn’t stop with religious institutions, however, says the Globe. It would barge out from church kitchens and into the secular marketplace, too, and attempt to override court-quashed attempts to let businesses refuse to serve lesbigay-rights organizations and specifically protect religious or other groups that would distribute intolerant leaflets disguised as ‘infallible’ scripture.
This whole exercise is borrowing heavily from a defeated private member’s bill in the Alberta Legislature. Introduced by would-be King Ralph heir, Ted Morton, that bill died last May, thanks to a legislative filibuster mounted by members of the Alberta Opposition.
No doubt fitting into the ‘scary Conservative’ file, the NDP needs to get out in front of the Liberals on this matter who, after all, made changes to our marriage laws only after they were dragged kicking and screaming to court one time too many.