A Regina man told a human rights hearing Wednesday he was devastated when a marriage commissioner refused to marry him and his male partner.
The man, who alleges Orville Nichols discriminated against them because they are a same-sex couple, was testifying at the hearing in Regina.
"I couldn't believe, as a human being, that I wasn't treated as a real person," said the man, whose name cannot be published under order of a human rights tribunal.
He told the hearing he's a very private individual and not what one would call a gay activist.
He testified that when he and his partner made their marriage plans in 2005, they chose Nichols from a list of marriage commissioners on a website.
Nichols, 70, offered his congratulations when the man first told him he was getting married, he said. However, when he told Nichols his partner is a man, Nichols told him he wouldn't do the ceremony because gay marriage is against his beliefs.
Nichols directed the man to another marriage commissioner who performed the ceremony in May 2005.
Taking the witness stand, Nichols discussed his beliefs and said, "God hates homosexuality." He told the tribunal that he doesn't object to gays and lesbians getting married, as long as he isn't asked to perform the ceremony.
Same-sex marriages became more common in Saskatchewan after November 2004, when Saskatchewan Justice Minister Frank Quennell sent a letter notifying all marriage commissioners they must perform same-sex marriages.
The hearing was ordered when the Regina man complained to the Human Rights Commission that he and his partner had been refused the civil service.
The province's human rights code bans discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation.
Nichols had complained to the human rights commission, too, arguing that for the province to require him to perform same-sex ceremonies contrary to his religious beliefs was discriminatory. The commission did not allow that complaint to proceed, however.
Lawyer Anil Pandila has been appointed by the commission to hear the case over two days. The panel has the power to order remedies and penalties.
The office of the attorney general of Saskatchewan has been granted leave to intervene in the hearing.
This is profoundly disturbing news. It's not enough that the couple was able to marry. They wanted to be married by a man whose religious beliefs would not allow him to perform the ceremony.
How many people recall socially liberal elites telling us that this would never happen? Religious beliefs would be respected.
Now, the human rights commission has allowed the complaint of the supposedly wronged gay couple to go through. They have not allowed the complaint of the Christian marriage commissioner to be heard.
According to the article at Canada.com the requested "damages" are to the tune of $5,000. If the gay couple wins their case, Nichols will also be ordered not to refuse his services again, regardless of his beliefs.