TORONTO, ON June 23, 2011 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today expressed its support for Damian Goddard, the sports anchor fired by Rogers Sportsnet last month shortly after he tweeted his support for the traditional definition of marriage, as he commences his filing with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The filing will cite discrimination based on religious belief. Mr. Goddard is Catholic.
“Mr. Goddard’s case typifies a theme we hear all too often in other, lower-profile cases of workplace discrimination against people who do not support same sex marriage on religious grounds,” said Joanne McGarry, League executive director. “We hope Damian’s case will establish that freedom of religion and conscience, protected by the Civil Marriage Act of 2005, were meant to be given a robust interpretation.”
Mr. Goddard, the former host of “Connected,” posted some comments on his Twitter account to express his support of Burlington hockey agent Todd Reynolds, who created some controversy when he criticized New York Rangers player Sean Avery for appearing in a TV ad in support of same sex marriage.
Rogers Sportsnet distanced itself from the comments on its own Twitter account, and then announced that Mr. Goddard had been fired without specifying the reasons. A later statement said he was “a freelance contractor and in recent weeks it had become clear that he is not the right fit for our organization.”
The pertinent section of the 2005 Civil Marriage Act is as follows:
Freedom of conscience and religion and expression of beliefs
3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.
The League has always believed it is possible to accommodate religious and conscientious freedom in such a way that those seeking legally available services can secure them without forcing the participation of those who have religious and conscientious objections. Even some of the pro-same sex marriage organizations that appeared at the parliamentary hearings on the subject stated that religious and conscientious objection could be accommodated in the implementation of new legislation. Many provinces have been able to provide such accommodation. (The accommodation of marriage commissioners, League press releases, January 10/11.)
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Goddard’s press release, Canada Newswire, June 23/11