Skip to comments.The Knights and the lesbians: Exhibit A in same-sex uproar
Posted on 02/02/2005 12:17:07 PM PST by NYer
Deborah Chymyshyn and Tracey Smith found just the hall they wanted to rent for their wedding reception. It was located behind a church in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam and managed by the Knights of Columbus, an organization they thought was the same as the Elks.
That mistake -- confusing the Elks with the Knights -- has taken them into the epicentre of the national debate on same-sex marriage, with Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives citing the couple as Exhibit A in the Tories' declaration that government legislation unveiled yesterday permitting homosexuals to marry will result in severe assaults on Canadians' freedom of religion.
Prime Minister Paul Martin defended the bill, insisting that no religious organization will be forced to perform homosexual marriages if their teaching is opposed to them. But he also said that "Canada is a country where minorities are protected" -- a claim the Tories sought to turn against him by saying the debate on same-sex marriage will be all about protecting Canadians' religious freedoms.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has just finished hearing Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith's claim that the Knights, a Roman Catholic men's fraternal and philanthropic society, discriminated against the couple by refusing to rent the hall to them after learning it was for a same-sex wedding reception.
The Knights, adhering to church teaching, which is against homosexual marriage, cancelled a rental contract that had been signed, returned the couple's deposit and paid for both the rental of a new hall and the reprinting of wedding invitations after Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith complained that invitations listing the hall's address for their reception had been mailed.
That was in September, 2003. In October, the couple complained to the Human Rights Tribunal, which heard the case last week. A decision is not expected for months.
Their case points to what many legal scholars and religious leaders say is a murky area between protection of freedom of religion and protection against discrimination. They say it could lead to religious organizations and individuals by the phalanx heading to courts and rights tribunals once the same-sex marriage legislation becomes law.
"It's going to be endless," said University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman, a specialist in freedom of expression and legal regulation of adult relationships.
The B.C. Knights of Columbus case focuses on whether a church-related organization is the same as a church and whether freedom of religion extends beyond refusing to perform a same-sex marriage to refusing to celebrate one.
Provincial governments, which license civil commissioners to perform marriages, are wrestling with allowing them to follow their conscience and religious belief when it comes to same-sex marriages or, as Manitoba has done, ordering them to surrender their licences and find another line of work.
Yesterday, the Tories produced a list of seven cases to illustrate the freedom of religion and anti-discrimination protections. All the cases had previously received considerable publicity -- such as the gay student in a Catholic high school in Oshawa, Ont., who secured a Superior Court injunction against the school board's order that he not bring a male date to the school prom -- and none touched directly on same-sex marriage.
In contrast, the case of the Knights and Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith is destined to become a textbook model.
The hall has a sign outside saying simply that it was for rent and listing a telephone number.
B.C.'s Human Rights Code says "a person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification, discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public."
Both sides agreed that freedom of religion could be a "bona fide and reasonable justification to discriminate" but lawyer barbara findlay, representing Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith, says it wasn't operable in this case.
Ms. findlay, who does not use capital letters in the spelling of her name, said the religious freedom of the Roman Catholic Church to refuse to marry same-sex couples could not be equated to religious freedom for a lay organization of Catholics to refuse to rent premises for the celebration of a same-sex marriage -- not if the premises were generally offered to the public.
She also likened the Knights' refusal to rent their hall to Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith as being comparable to a hypothetical case in which, if the Knights ran a daycare, they refused to accept the children of a lesbian couple.
Knights' lawyer George Macintosh said the Catholic Church owns the hall, and membership in the Knights is limited to practising Catholics.
"If it's lawful to say no to [performing] a same-sex marriage, it's lawful to say no to celebrating the event. To celebrate an event against your religious belief is the same as conducting the event yourself."
Mr. Macintosh said the sign in front of the Knights' hall did not have to state that it would not be rented to people who acted against Catholic teachings because that was covered by the "bona fide and reasonable justification to discriminate" provision of the Human Rights Code.
Ms. findlay said the sign has since been taken down and the Knights now rent the hall only to members of the adjacent Catholic church.
Sounds like a revision to the Arthurian Legend.
Catholic Ping - please freepmail me if you want on/off this list
""Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involving a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.""
Pretentious twit alert.
my feelings exactly
i dont use punctuation either
sometimes my name is e e cummings
Oh, I get it. They weren't thinking!
Knights of Columbus ~ private organization ~ members only.
Knights of Columbus Hall ~ private property - no dykes.
Sorrry for the horrrible spelling..
And having a knight spank some lesbians.
Apparently the K of C weren't thinking either....they signed a rental agreement without knowing the particulars.
A simple "Who's is the lucky couple" might have saved some of this....
Shall we read the rules again?
Maybe this could be solved by just informing the lesbian couple that the children will be taught Judeo/Christian moral values. As for rental of the hall, they shouldn't lose but I bet they do. Part of the coalition to legalize gay marriage are people who see it as an opportunity to suppress religion and morality. Many liberals view religion as the greatest evil (people who otherwise believe there is no such thing as good and evil -- figure that one out).
I think they knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to make a big show and sue. They arent really stupid enough to not know what the Knights of Columbus was.
It's only a flesh wound!
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