Marriage commissioners in British Columbia have been ordered to perform and register so-called “marriages” between persons of the same sex, or resign. MP Vic Toews has complained that the demand is inconsistent with an employer’s obligation to accommodate the religious and moral beliefs of employees. He reminds us of the general rule that an employee must not be forced to do something contrary to his conscientious convictions.

However, Toews has overlooked an exception to the general rule. Employers do not have to accommodate unlawful conduct.

Taking its cue from our ruling elites – especially, it seems, our judges – Vital Statistics has decided that it is unlawful to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony for persons of the same sex. Religious and moral convictions to the contrary are, to put it politely, mistaken. Less politely, they are trash. And employers are entitled to put out the trash. Hence the ultimatum: conform or quit.

The ultimatum may alert more people to the fact that this project is not about tolerance. It never has been. The real goal, all along, has been nothing less than the compulsory public affirmation of the purported goodness of homosexual activity and inclinations. The judges who invented the legal fiction that persons of the same sex can marry demand not tolerance, but “society’s approbation”of homosexual relationships. If that requires the public degradation and punishment of those who refuse to bend the knee, so be it.

Nothing less than this will do, because guilty consciences will settle for nothing less, even if, as Jay Budziszewski observes, it is at the cost of “marriage, family, innocence, purity, childhood – even if it means pulling down the world around their ears.”

Budziszewski ascribes this frantic effort to silence all opposition to “the revenge of conscience.” The law written on the human heart cannot be obliterated. It can be denied, but the reproach of conscience at the deepest levels never, ever stops. That is why tolerance is, finally, intolerable; it is less than acceptance, less than approval. “If you cannot convert your critics by argument,” writes historian John Thomas Noonan, “at least by law you can make them recognize that your course is the course of the country.”

Thus, to B.C. marriage commissioners: conform or quit.

Or, coming soon: go to jail.

Courtesy of Svend Robinson and a majority of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties, Bill C-250 will make it a “hate crime” to publicly challenge the morality of homosexual conduct, if it is likely that such challenges will “lead to a breach of the peace.”

A “breach of the peace” is conduct like threats, assault or disturbance that involves some danger to a person or property. Bill C-250 does not specify that the speaker must intend this result, nor that the breach must follow directly from what is said. Moreover, this part of the bill makes no allowance for statements about religious or public issues, even if they are made in good faith, even if they are true.

So when can it be said that a statement is “likely” to lead to a breach of the peace?

Just about any time, as it turns out. In 2000, the attorney general of B.C., through counsel, argued that if people are allowed to speak publicly against homosexual conduct and lifestyles, it will validate “anti-gay and lesbian attitudes” and increase the risk that people involved in homosexual conduct will be assaulted or harassed.

In other words, if a minister, priest, bishop, imam or rabbi says something that homosexual activists find “hateful” – that people can and ought to resist or overcome certain sexual urges, for example – their words might “validate” the notion that homosexual conduct is immoral. In turn, that notion might lead to a breach of the peace some time next week, or next month, or next summer. And that mere possibility, grounded in prejudiced speculation, will open the door for an indictment for “hate crime.”

Keep your mouths shut – even in synagogue, church or mosque – or get ready for a visit from the police.

If this seems far-fetched, ask the Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Forster, Anglican bishop of Chester, England. Last fall, he stated that some people can overcome homosexual inclinations and “reorientate” themselves. He encouraged them to consider that option, qualifying his remarks with the comment that the subject was properly within the field of psychiatric health.

What the bishop said was true, but for this very reason, it is doubly galling to a guilty conscience, and conscience must have its revenge. Infuriated homosexual activists condemned Bishop Forster’s assertion as “scandalous,” “irresponsible” and “evil,” and he was denounced to the police for violating England’s Public Order Act. The investigation concluded with a reprimand from the local chief constable, who warned that such statements are “translated” in ways “totally unacceptable” in a civilized society.

This precisely reflects the reasoning of the B.C. attorney-general, the minister whose officers will be responsible for prosecuting people like Bishop Forster if Bill C-250 becomes law.

The ultimatum from Vital Statistics demonstrates that the need for coy words like “tolerance” is passing. B.C.’s marriage commissioners are only the latest to feel the bite of the morality being imposed by judicial decree. They will not be the last.

If Bill C-250 becomes law, get ready for the knock on the door.

Sean Murphy is a director of the Catholic Civil Rights League, Western region. Footnotes for this article and other information about this issue can be obtained at the league’s website: