Tuesday, February 01, 2011


The example that keeps cropping up, and which proves that gay now runs the country and everyone else is an oppressed minority is the case of an hotel, run by a Christian family, who allegedly refused to let a homosexual couple rent a room.

The story strikes me as rather more nuanced than either side is admitting. As I read the story, no-one was turned away for being gay: and neither have the Secret Elders of Frankfurt launched an attack on the hotel owners for being Christians.

What seems to have happened is that the hotel had a policy of only renting double rooms to married couples (and had, in fact, frequently required unmarried straight couples to sleep in separate rooms). Now, this might very well be silly and priggish. We might very well ask why the hotel wasn't equally strict about kicking out guests who didn't go to church on Sunday or honour their parents; or people who take the Lord's name in vain and go around coveting other people's oxes. Or, why God was okay with people committing fornication in single beds. Or what they did to stop unmarried straight couples signing in as "Mr and Mrs Smith" in the time honoured fashion.

But the rule that said "We only rent double rooms to married couples" wasn't illegal per se. Daft, maybe, but there's no law against being daft.

The problem arose because the representatives of the Secret Gay Conspiracy were Civil Partners. They regarded themselves as married under the law. Mr and Mrs God did not. And therein lies the problem. Mr and Mrs God were perfectly free to turn away unmarried couples. What they were not free to do was to pick and choose which forms of marriage they regarded as valid. They would not have been free to say that Mr and Mrs Smith were not married because they got married in front of a registrar, as opposed to a priest; or to say that Catholic weddings didn't count.

So everything turned on whether "civil partnership" is legally the same thing as marriage.

Common sense suggests to me that it is not: the clue would seem to be that one is called "civil partnership" and the other is called "marriage"; that registry offices hold "civil partnership ceremonies", not weddings, and that The Gay Lobby is still lobbying for the right to marry. However, after due consideration, M'Learned Friends decided that civil partnerships and marriages were the same thing.

This strikes me as a rather subtle point of both morality and legality. It's not illegal for someone to say that it's immoral for people who are not legally married to have sex; but it is, apparently, illegal for someone to say that an institution which is not legally the same as marriage is not morally the same as marriage.

It makes my head spin, rather.

The question about whether gay people should be allowed to get married in the eyes of the law is a good one. Getting individual judges to decide whether civil partnerships are or are not marriage on a case by case basis may not be the best way of answering it. But it's a rather subtle question and it has been argued about right up the legal system to the highest court in the land: and a judge (himself an Anglican) has given a considered judgement, which Mr and Mrs God have the right to appeal against. (They may even have the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.)

It is hard to see how that equates to dragging too poor innocent Christians before an Un Gay Activities Panel.