Monday, January 10, 2011

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Marriage officials can't refuse gays: Sask. court

I'll draw attention to this new story: CBC News - Saskatchewan - Marriage officials can't refuse gays: Sask. court

There is nothing shocking in this story, or at least no one should be shocked. If you are ... think again. To pat myself on the back, according to this story, the court used exactly the same reasoning I've used in this blog over the years. Public servants are public servants. One can have whatever view one wants but public servants must serve the public. If they don't want to, they should not be public servants. Their job is not to impose their views on the public but to help the public accomplish its goals.

The idea that public servants should somehow have the right to refuse services to the public on the basis of their own philosophies is absurd. A couple of examples will suffice. Imagine the reverse: a gay public servant decides that he will not help straight people. If this ever happened we'd hear howls of protest (and rightly, btw). Imagine another situation: you want to register your marriage license and show up to do so. The clerk happens to be a Nazi and starts asking if you have any "Jewish blood" and he won't serve you until you answer. Finally, imagine if this were private enterprise! Imagine what the Royal Bank (my account happens to be at the Royal, hence my example) would do if one of their tellers said to a prospective customer "before I can open your account I need to know if you are straight or gay."

Some people will claim that this is an attack on freedom of conscience. It is not. Freedom on conscience is about belief. This is about whether or not one has to do the job for which one is paid or one can opt out of their job on the basis of their personal beliefs. Some people will claim that this is the court making public policy. It is not. Canadians support equality. It is our legislature that are behind the curve. If they weren't, the court would not have had to catch up for us. What we have is a government trying to find some sneaky way out of equality. Shame on the government.

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