I’m planning to spend my day in court tomorrow (May 13). No, I’m not challenging a speeding ticket!
Early in March I was asked to provide an affidavit on behalf of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, specifically their “Centre for Faith and Public Life,” regarding the Marriage Commissioner Reference at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The EFC has obtained intervenor status on this case. As the weekly EFC newsletter explained it:
Faye Sonier, legal counsel for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), will be in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal May 13-14 with litigator Scott Kennedy to present arguments in the marriage commissioner reference case. In July, the Justice Minister of Saskatchewan asked the Court of Appeal for an opinion on potential legislation which would permit marriage commissioners to decline performing same-sex marriages if contrary to their religious beliefs. The decision in this case has the potential to impact all public service employees in Canada.
My task was to provide a written affidavit in which I outlined how a theology of marriage (including that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others) was a legitimate part of the “religious belief” of an evangelical Christian. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms expressly protects “freedom of conscience and religion” (Art. 2), so the question is whether a Marriage Commissioner should be free to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony of a same-sex couple on the grounds of religious conviction. As Don Hutchinson (EFC Vice-President and General Legal Counsel) has put it, “There is an important distinction between the right to be married and the right to be married by a particular person. The first is an actual right and the latter is not.”
Fortunately, I do not have to appear personally since my Affidavit is simply submitted to the Court as part of the EFC materials. However, I do plan to be in attendance while the case is being heard. This should be interesting!
Obviously, it wouldn’t be appropriate to make the Affidavit available here in advance of the hearing, but you can read the publicly available “factum” which the EFC legal counsel is presenting. An “FAQ” is also available on the case over at “Activate CFPL.”