.- Alberta Justice Minister Ron Stevens said the province may invoke the notwithstanding clause under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect religious and lay officials in Alberta from being forced to marry same-sex couples if it goes against their conscience or religious beliefs. On Tuesday, the provincial government stated in a news release it had introduced such legislation. The law would be retroactive to July 20, the date same-sex marriage became the law of the land.
The provincial government said it also plans to protect religions from being forced to make their places of worship available for same-sex marriages.
“We will do what we feel is necessary in that regard to protect the marriage commissioners and their religious beliefs," Stevens told the Edmonton Sun newspaper.
Alberta is the Canadian province that has been the most vocal in its opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country. During the two-year debate, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein had even stated that perhaps the provincial government should bow out the marriage business altogether and leave it solely up to the religions.