Turns out Riverview, New Brunswick (population just over 17,000) is home to a homophobic wedding florist.
After having confirmed an order for wedding flowers, Kim Evans of Petals and Promises Wedding Flowers cancelled the agreement when she discovered it was a same-sex wedding.
Although Evans wasn’t interviewed in the articles I read, the couple’s wedding planner shared her email, which stated: “”I am choosing to decline your business. As a born-again Christian, I must respect my conscience before God and have no part in this matter.”
The thing is, while Canadians have a right to hold their own religious beliefs, the right doesn’t extend to allow people to use their religion to discriminate against others when operating a business or providing a public service. Saying your florist won’t provide flowers for gay weddings is the same as saying your coffee shop or restaurant or funeral home or bed and breakfast won’t serve members of a certain minority group.
Eldon Hay, a United Church minister and gay rights advocate interviewed by the CBC, put it well: “The shopkeeper has every right to her own convictions as long as she is a private citizen in her own house, but if she opens her doors to sell flowers, then she must be prepared to meet and deal with the public.
And more in the realm of Canadian homophobia this week, Missisauga Catholic students have started a Facebook group to rally support for their drive to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary.
One of the main students organizing the St. Joe’s GSA told Xtra.ca that a teacher told her she and the other students were probably just confused. The teacher then offered them pamphlets for Courage International, which uses a 12-step program to try to “cure” gayness.
This ban on GSAs comes not long after another Ontario board, the Halton Catholic School Board, came under fire for comparing a ban on GSAs to banning “Nazi groups” in school. Outcry forced the board to lift the ban but they still don’t allow clubs with “gay” in their name.
At this point the Ontario NDP is the only party talking about this. They’re calling on the Liberals to address the issues with inequality in the Catholic school system, but they stop short of suggesting funding should be cut off.
If no politicians are going to even consider changing the funding subsidies to these schools, it’ll be interesting to see how the government intends to ensure public money isn’t enabling discrimination.