Wednesday, February 02, 2005

With friends like these, who needs homophobes

Babble on.

I'm pretty sure this isn't what the framers of our Human Rights laws intended (kudos to The Last Amazon):

The Knights [of Columbus], adhering to church teaching, which is against homosexual marriage, cancelled a rental contract that had been signed, returned the couple's deposit and paid for both the rental of a new hall and the reprinting of wedding invitations after Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith complained that invitations listing the hall's address for their reception had been mailed. (Babbler's italics)
Their case points to what many legal scholars and religious leaders say is a murky area between protection of freedom of religion and protection against discrimination. They say it could lead to religious organizations and individuals by the phalanx heading to courts and rights tribunals once the same-sex marriage legislation becomes law.

"It's going to be endless," said University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman, a specialist in freedom of expression and legal regulation of adult relationships.

The B.C. Knights of Columbus case focuses on whether a church-related organization is the same as a church and whether freedom of religion extends beyond refusing to perform a same-sex marriage to refusing to celebrate one.

Provincial governments, which license civil commissioners to perform marriages, are wrestling with allowing them to follow their conscience and religious belief when it comes to same-sex marriages or, as Manitoba has done, ordering them to surrender their licences and find another line of work.

When I have a problem with a retailer, or restaurant, or any other commercial entity with which I do business, I expect them to indemnify me for any pecuniary loss due their mistake. Once they've done that, I shut up. Oh, I might not ever buy anything from them again, but the specific matter in question becomes closed.

What these two activists are doing is directly attacking the Knights' freedom of religion, here. It's petty. It's counterproductive. It makes a mockery of true human rights violations. And it does nothing - NOTHING - to win the hearts and minds of moderate Canadians on this issue.

Babble off.

Update: As usual, Kate - a self-described "ambivalent athiest" gets to the real heart of this story much better than I do.

When push comes to shove, the "truth" of state-defined equality rights will always trump the "false" God-defined morality. The problem stems from something deeper than simple disbelief in God. Permitting freedom of religion to supercede equality rights is to acknowledge the possible existence of God - an authority higher than that of the state.

That's just a taste - read the rest here.


At 3:08 p.m., Blogger angry_in_t_o said...

There will be serious consequences to these attacks:

At 3:10 p.m., Blogger Matt said...

The other fascinating thing about Valpy's Globe piece you linked is their lawyer, who doesn't spell her name with capital letters. To each their own, but if you're trying to project common sense...

At 3:56 p.m., Blogger Greg said...

I guess it depends on whether you consider the Knights of Columbus Hall a commercial enterprise or a religious institution. I need more info.

At 4:47 p.m., Blogger deaner said...

A couple of small corrections:

First:- the Knights of Columbus didn't actually pay for the new invitations, rental of alternate venue, etc. They offerred to do so, in exchange for a full release from the ladies in question. The complainants refused to provide the release, so the offer lapsed (I don't think it was "withdrawn" - I think it was just left hanging until it became moot).

Second:- the hall is not owned by the KofC - it is owned by the Archdiocese of Vancouver, who allows the KofC to manage and operate it in behalf of the Archdiocese. Any profit from running the hall is returned to the parish church or to the Catholic school that sit adjacent to the hall.

By policy, any parish activities or requirements of the school have first claim on the facilities - after those are satisfied it is available for rent to the public, although it is only rented (again, by policy) to organizations or for functions that will not conflict with the essential functions of the Catholic church. As an example, at the moment the only long-term rentals are to two Alcoholics Anonymous groups and a Mom-and-Tot playcare. Both of these are secular, but they in general "advance good works" in the community. I think these factors may be relevant in coming to a conclusion on the question of whther the hall is a commercial operation or a religious institution.

And a comment:- the complainants allege that they incurred costs of printing and mailing invitations (among other things). As I recall the respondent's brief, the contract was entered into on September 25th, and the rental was cancelled on September 26th, when the KofCs became aware that the rental was to be for a same-sex wedding reception. I have a great deal of trouble believing that any printer can offer less than 24 hour turnaround on wedding invitations, or that any couple, irrespective of sexual orientation, can get them in the mail that quickly.

I have no doubt that this was a set up, and was intended as a provocation to the KofCs and to both the local parish and the Catholic church as a whole. There is no legislation on personality, but these two have shown themselves to be thoroughly unlikeable people.




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