One thing I actually agree with the federal Conservatives on...

I've voted conservative in provincial elections in the past, but I really dislike Stephen Harper and much of what the new Conservative party stands for.

The Conservative party's stance on the gay marriage issue particularly bugs me. I totally support same-sex marriage. People are people; marriage need not always be a religious union, or for procreation, and I believe that two consenting adults who want to get married should be legally allowed to (let's not start the incest & polygamy debates right now, shall we?).

It frustrates me to no end that the party hopes to re-open debate on the legality of same-sex marriage, and I wish they'd just let it go. But while I feel that way, I actually support one idea behind their proposed Defence of Religions Act.

I don't know the details of the Act yet, so I'll reserve judgment on the whole thing, but I at least agree with the main principle - I don't think that religious officials should be compelled to marry same-sex couples if it's against their religious beliefs (I'm unsure if I agree with allowing civil servants to opt out, so that's something I'll have to think about more).

But back to priests, ministers, etc. I don't think that they should be required to marry same-sex couples, just as I don't think that medical students should be required to learn how to perform abortion procedures in medical school. I know, they're very different issues, but they're both strong and widely-held values/beliefs issues. While it would be really disappointing for a couple wanting to have a religious ceremony to be told that their local minister won't perform the ceremony for them, a couple doesn't need the religious element to get married, and it's just a gut feeling for me that someone whose whole life and profession is based on his/her religious beliefs shouldn't be legally compelled to do something that violates those beliefs.

As for the legislation protecting religious leaders' rights to publicly voice criticism of homosexual behaviour without risking complaints of human rights violations, I don't agree with that! Sounds like preaching discrimination from the pulpit, to me.

Just a few thoughts.


  1. In general I agree strongly with your main message, including the right of ministers to refuse to perfoem marriages. I would suggest that your example of medical students and training in abortions is not a direct analogy.

    Med students might need to know how to do this for situations where the baby is dead or dying in the womb, which for the safety of the mother needs to be removed. It is a skill they need for emergency situations, whether they condone voluntary abortions or not; I do think they shouldn't be forced to do the procedure if they don't want to in the case of voluntary abortions.

    However, in both cases the practitioner needs to know the skill or procedure, and in both cases they have the right to make moral or ethical judgements.

    Maybe I misunderstood your example. Are medical students required to do abortions, or do they learn the procedures and watch what is going on?

    Anyway, a really good post.

  2. Good question. I was under the impression that they learn in theory, but aren't required to learn/i.e. practice abortion procedures. But I see your point about needing to have some of the same skills in case of emergency.

    Any med students out there who can clarify?

  3. Great post. Glad to see that there are bloggers out there with intelligent and articulate arguments. Keep it up.

  4. I'm not sure about this one, but I was under the impression that their intention with opening up this act was to prevent all same-sex marriage...seem to recall some newspaper bits the day after regarding the separation of church and state. It would seem the conservatives would rather hide behind a minister's frock than deal with the reprecussions of using the "notwithstanding" clause.

    Churches will be able to reject people, they are a private club. Hell, if golf clubs can keep women out than I'm sure the churches can keep gays out.