Orville Nichols

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Orville Nichols

Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioner

Fined $2500 for declining to marry two men


January 12, 2011 UPDATE


THE STORY

On May 30, 2008 the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission fined marriage commissioner Orville Nichols $2,500 because he refused to perform a gay marriage 3 years ago based on his religious beliefs. The tribunal decided that if you work for the government you can't exercise your religion.

The head of the Sask Human Rights Commission said, "...to allow public officials to insert their personal morality when determining who should and who should not receive the benefit of law undermines human rights in Saskatchewan beyond the issue of same-sex marriages."

At the time, Nichols referred the couple to someone who would do the marriage. The commissioner Nichols recommended did in fact do the marriage at the time, place, and location convenient for the couple. Yet, Nichols was levied a $2,500 fine, partly due to the "pain and suffering" of the couple.

Nichols appealed the case on June 18, 2008, but the appeal was unsuccessful. Later, some Saskatchewan marriage commissioners launched legal action against the provincial government. Nichols says it had been years since he last discussed the possibility of a suit with the lawyer who has since launched it. He was surprised to hear in the media that he was one of the plaintiffs and immediately withdrew from the lawsuit. He did not want to be part of it unless other options had been exhausted.

The Saskatchewan Party government wants religious freedom of conscience for commissioners and has given a reference question to the courts to examine its legality. More on that in the update above.

Please add your voice and dollars to the cause.

Make your voice heard!

  1. Write a letter to the editor or article and submit it to your local newspapers.
  2. Contact your Member of Parliament. To find out who your MP is by postal code click here.
  3. Send a donation. Click here to find out how.
  4. Contact your MLA as well. To find out who your MLA is click here.
  5. Contact Justice Minister Don Morgan and ask him to protect religious rights for civil servants and clergy. His contact information is:
Minister's Office
Room 355, Legislative Building
2405 Legislative Drive,
Regina, SK S4S0B3

Phone: (306) 787-5353
morgan@donmorgan.ca
  • Click here to read Morgan's statement while in opposition regarding freedom of conscience for marriage commissioners and here for the October 3, 2008 letter from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
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