September 27, 2020

BY SARA HANAFI

The days of segregating are long gone. Everybody takes the same bus, eats at the same restaurant and goes to the same mall.

Would it be fair for one person to help customers at a fast-food restaurant but pass on the duties to someone else if he didn’t like a certain customer? Or for a garbage collector to only pick up garbage from certain houses?
The answer is a resounding no, because, by definition, that is discrimination.

That being said, the City of Cambridge has been allowing a form of prejudice to continue at city hall for the past seven years. Heterosexual couples have been wed by one minister and same-sex couples wed by another.

Rev. Jay Brown of Guelph had been performing the heterosexual ceremonies at city hall until recently; council voted 8-1 to have only one minister perform both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings.

Brown, who says she has people who are dear to her who are gay, said its her religion that will not allow her to  marry same-sex couples.

She is at risk of losing her job because segregation is not tolerated in Canada. We are a nation that promotes open-mindedness, diversity and tolerance. The days of separate washrooms and reserved seats at the back of the bus for different groups of people are far behind us.

Quite frankly, having the two ministers was insulting and unfair to same-sex couples who are already struggling to be seen as equals in today’s society.

Is this thinking not hurting our society? Do we not want to accept everyone and be rid of blatant intolerance?

Brown is entitled to her own religious beliefs. Freedom of speech and freedom to practise religion are constitutional rights. The government does not require, and cannot force, any church or other religious institution to perform these wedding ceremonies.

But, when such ceremonies are held at city hall, they must adhere to the rules of the state, and the rules do not allow for discrimination based on sexual orientation due to another’s religious beliefs.

Kudos to Cambridge council members for finally seeing the light and taking a stand.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.