Sunday, 20 August 2006

more about Getting Equal

In June, I linked here to the article for the Church Times that I wrote about the latest DTI consultation Getting Equal on outlawing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation throughout the UK in the provision of goods and services.

Since then, the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales also published their response to the DTI consultation. You can read it here (PDF ) and also the covering letter (another PDF). It is far more restrained in its language than the response from Anglican Mainstream or the even more extreme response of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship.

One specific RC concern is to do with child adoption services. This week, The Tablet has an interesting article which discusses how this issue has been handled by Roman Catholics in the USA: Dilemma of gay adoption by Terry Philpot. (Access to this PDF article is free, but requires registration.)

There is a related news report (only available on the web by subscription) concerning opposition to the anticipated regulations from the Scottish RC bishops on this score. But there is no mention there of the English RC objections which are contained in the document linked above. A Scottish RC press release is here.

The DTI response to the consultation is expected 12 weeks after the closure date of 5 June. That could be next week. This response will then be followed by the publication of draft regulations for parliamentary approval in October.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 August 2006 at 7:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: News | equality legislation

The traditionalists have my sympathies to the extent that they are indeed strained between a rock and a hard place. Already, we have moved far enough from the most negative legacies of our past religious traditions that we can no longer feel comfortable with outright violence against people who are different.

So we now balance on two fine lines.

One is just how negatively we can continue to condemn people - not for being different in sexual orientation as such, but instead seek to condemn them for daring to express those loving parts of their personalities, lovingly, body to body. We keep seeing this fine distinction being made in conservative print, on occasion at least; but it simply may not be as helpful to ground condemnation as it promises to be on first look.

It is sort of like always saying, Yes the Queer Folks are awfully disgusting, but remember we are way too good as Catholic believers to ever get afraid, disgusted, and angry enough at them to beat the living daylights out of them, now aren't we?

The second fine line is even more fraught with problems of balance imperiled. That is the line about enforcement, about police powers. If the boundaries between church and the rest of community life were as clean and simple and clear as the condemnatory distinctions traditionalist believers so often wish to sustain, we should have little difficulty just letting the world be as fair and equal as it wants to be, while the church continues to deny food, clothes, housing, adoption assistance, medical treatment, and any number of other services that is might happen to provide in a given neighborhood.

But turning people away because you do not like their most beloved, who just happens to be another woman or another man, is getting pretty dicey. It seems to me that either the churches will learn to draw these lines differently - perhaps allowing far more openness in their general services to the community, while keeping as closed and tight-lipped as they might wish to remain inside liturgical-sacramental closed circles of belonging and participation; or the churches are vulnerable to having some outside solution urged upon them by various communities which increasingly see little or no harm done by most of the common decencies indulged in daily life by all of us, gay or straight or in-between.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 21 August 2006 at 6:37am BST
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