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British Columbia Humanist Association Working for Marriage Equality for Humanists


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2017/09/27

The British Columbia Humanist Association (BCHA) created a petition for marriage equality for humanists. It is an ongoing concern for humanists in the province of British Columbia, Canada, in the continual march for equality. The BCHA surpassed their goal of 500 signatures. You can help them out through donationmembership, or being a signatory to the petition.

The British Columbia Humanist Association (BCHA) is fighting for equality in marriage. The BCHA started a petition with a goal of 500 signatures. The 500 signature mark was passed, recently, which indicates the desire for the marriage equality.

The petition from the BCHA is directed towards the Minister of Health. This was preceded by a publication entitled “The Case for Humanist Marriage in BC” (2017).

They target, for consideration, the changes in the religious demographics of the province, the Criminal Code, marriage in the province of British Columbia (BC), marriage in Canada as a whole, and marriage in other countries.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BCHA, said:

There’s a double standard at play in BC when atheist Buddhists can perform a wedding but atheist Humanists cannot. We’re simply calling on the Minister to end this arbitrary discrimination.

Couples are increasingly turning to Humanist groups to recognize their bond and it’s time for British Columbia to open that door.

Bushfield, on behalf of the BCHA, is simply asking for equality in marriage for a worldview apart from the religious but on the same plane of acceptance in law as the religions of the province, e.g. Scientology, Catholics, Sikhs, Muslims, and so on.

As Bushfield noted, “What we’re trying to do is offer a ceremony that’s based on our world view and our values, just in the same way that the Catholic Church can do that, the Muslim community can do, that the Scientologists apparently can do.”

In 2013, the BCHA applied to be considered a religious body by the Vital Statistics Agency, which is the body responsible for provincial solemnization of marriages. They were denied, so no solemnity for humanist marriages through the Vital Statistics Agency.

The next attempt now is in 2017 with calls for the change to the definition of marriage. The call is being made to Health Minister Adrian Dix and involves a change to the Marriage Act.

Dix said the government will consider it, but will not do it at this time. In short, the petition at least had an impact via consideration, simply more work to be done.

“As legislative change inevitably takes a long while … we certainly don’t have a plan to do that right now…If there’s an intention to reform the Marriage Act, we’re going to obviously consult with lots of groups from faith communities, from secular communities, from everywhere else,” Dix said.

The Health Minister did state that the BCHA can make applications to be marriage commissioners. There are concerns based on limitations for marriage commissioners: must live in the community, cannot give any wedding consultation/planning, and no vacancies exist for marriage commissioners in the province.

This is going to be a hard road, but inroads are being made.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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