Manitoba

Marriage commissioners file human-rights complaints

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission is investigating complaints from marriage commissioners who say they are being discriminated against if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission is investigating complaints from marriage commissioners who say they are being discriminated against if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

In September, a Court of Queen's Bench judge in Manitoba ruled it was unconstitutional to limit the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

A letter from the Vital Statistics office was sent to the province's 600 marriage commissioners, ordering them to return their Certificates of Registration if they have a problem performing same-sex marriages. At least 11 marriage commissioners in Manitoba have resigned, saying same-sex marriage contravenes their religious beliefs.

Marriage commissioner Kevin Kisilowsky has refused to resign. Instead, he filed a complaint with Manitoba's Human Rights Commission. "The way it was worded in the letter is that I basically must comply or resign. That's a subtle form of intimidation," he says.

Commission officials say they have received more than one complaint on the matter.

"The complaints will be treated as any other complaint," says commission chairwoman Janet Baldwin. "They will go to the investigation."

The commission expects to make its recommendations public by the end of the year.

A provincial spokesperson says Manitoba's marriage commissioners are, by extension, agents of the government, and are therefore expected to uphold provincial laws.

Manitoba is one of seven Canadian provinces and territories that have legalized same-sex marriage.

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