Catholic Church | Discrimination | Gay Adoption | Great Britain | News | Religion | Tony Blair

Blair: Catholic Adoption Agencies Can't Discriminate Against Gays

In a decision that ends weeks of debate over the issue, Tony Blair has announced that there will be no exemptions for Catholic Adoption Agencies from anti-discrimination laws which the church has said would force them to act against their members' conscience and religious teachings. In what he calls a "sensible compromise", Blair has offered the church a 21-month window (until the end of 2008) during which time they must comply with the law or lose public funding. Until that time, the Catholic agencies have a "statutory duty" to refer same-sex couples to other agencies.

CatholicSaid Blair: "I believe we have now found a way through that achieves this and which all reasonable people will be able to support. I start from a very firm foundation: there is no place in our society for discrimination. That is why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple. ...There can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering publicly-funded services from regulations which prevent discrimination. [There will be] a transition period before these regulations come fully into force at the end of 2008 for existing adoption agencies. This will be coupled, during this period, with a statutory duty for any adoption agency which does not process applications from same sex couples to refer them to another agency."

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who leads the church in Wales and England, responded to Blair's directive: "We are, of course, deeply disappointed that no exemption will be granted to our agencies on the grounds of widely held religious conviction and conscience. We look to the forthcoming parliamentary debate to address some of the fundamental issues centred on the wellbeing of the child, whose needs must always be put first. We note and welcome, however, the government's expressed desire that the experience and excellent work of our agencies is not lost, especially for the benefit of needy children."

Ben Summerskill, head of gay activist group Stonewall, lauded the decision: "We are delighted that so many ministers have listened to the representations we made and acknowledge that there should be an as wide as possible pool of adopted parents. This is a triumph for 21st century tolerance over 19th century prejudice."

No exemption from gay rights law [bbc]
Catholic agencies given deadline to comply on same-sex adoptions [guardian]

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Comments

  1. How awesome... good for the brits! It's nice to see that someone is moving forward on GLBT issues, particularly those that are associated with families.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 30, 2007 9:48:39 AM


  2. The Catholic church, as usual, is putting the interests of the child last, refusing to consdier qualified families because of the church's narrow agenda.

    Posted by: sam | Jan 30, 2007 10:38:50 AM


  3. They are not saying the church must adopt to gay couples. Just that if they want to keep their public funding, they can't descriminate. Seems pretty clear to me the church doesn't care about the children so much as the money.

    Posted by: TroyTooner | Jan 30, 2007 11:21:09 AM


  4. This is probably the most press the catholic church will get these days anyway..Welcome to the 21st century, Vatican nation!

    Posted by: Da | Jan 30, 2007 12:20:45 PM


  5. Thanks Troytooner, I wondered about that. At first I thought it was an infringement on Religious rights (though I know the laws in England are probably different) but I think if groups are taking public money they should serve the entire public.

    Posted by: Daniel | Jan 30, 2007 12:28:55 PM


  6. Oh yeah, at the very least, gay couples won't be shown the door. But they'd see about as much equal opportunity as I would at a corporate job interview.

    Posted by: 000000 | Jan 30, 2007 2:00:37 PM


  7. Hmm.... Blair is sounding all warm and gay-friendly now but let's not forget he did try, and appeared to want to, obtain an exemption from this legislation for the Catholics. He ultimately backed down only after protest from his party and specifically cabinet minister Alan Johnson and Angela Eagle MP (who is a lesbian btw).

    Fewer than 4% of the total number of adoptions are arranged by Catholic agencies so the practical effect of this legislation will be slight (the chances of a gay couple applying to a Catholic adoption agency were pretty slim in the first place I'd wager). The symbolic effect, however, is much more significant; no more free rides for the Catholic Church (nor, hopefully the C of E)?

    Posted by: Atheist | Jan 30, 2007 3:12:13 PM


  8. Public money isn't the problem here folks. The Church has said it would forgo the public money for an exemption. This is the result of an EU law that Britain and other EU members must follow. But, the EU granted an exemption to religious groups based on religious conscienceness.
    Britain decided that there would be no exemptions. The Church agencies have already for several years now been referring Gay couples to non Church agencies. So all this fuss over something that has been going on already for 2 or 3 years.
    Gay groups need to understand that when we do this kind of thing, we anger the people we need to help us get our full rights. There was no reason for the Gay groups to go after these agencies like this.....it's blantent anti-religious bigotry. Even the Church of England came out for the exemption, and they don't normally support anything Catholic.
    While these agencies only place 6% of all adopted children in the UK....they place over 33% of the **hard to place** children(disabled and such)....thats an outstanding record.

    I'm all for Gay rights and non-discrimination, but sometimes we Gays, in our rush to be **normal folks** and march in the Macy's parade naked, trample over others rights and we don't seem to care.

    Posted by: Joshua | Jan 30, 2007 5:24:26 PM


  9. Joshua, you may be right about the public funding--I'll have to research it. However, your comment "but sometimes we Gays, in our rush to be **normal folks** and march in the Macy's parade naked," belies your claim that you support gay rights. I'm unaware of any gay groups wanting to march in the Macy's parade naked and it seems that if they wanted to be normal folks that is something they would not do.

    Posted by: Daniel | Jan 30, 2007 7:54:31 PM


  10. Good point, Daniel. And as far as I'm concerned, the issue of gay adoptions has no "other side" and there are no rights to trample. Bigotry by religious institutions is still bigotry. PERIOD. I make no apologies for putting human rights above the choice - CHOICE - of some to follow a particular faith. The rights of the children come first. The rights of the Church can take a f**kin' back seat.

    Posted by: mark m | Jan 30, 2007 9:40:55 PM


  11. "Gay groups need to understand that when we do this kind of thing, we anger the people we need to help us get our full rights. "
    Posted by: Joshua |

    Oh jeez, and we'll be damned if we anger anyone or ruffle any feathers in our course to get our rights!...See Joshua, if playing the sympathic card was all it took to obtain our rights, we would have them all by now. So please get real, and stop apologizing for existing.

    "There was no reason for the Gay groups to go after these agencies like this.....it's blantent anti-religious bigotry."

    There is reason for the Vatican to go after the gays either, it's homophobia.

    "I'm all for Gay rights and non-discrimination, but sometimes we Gays, in our rush to be **normal folks** and march in the Macy's parade naked, trample over others rights and we don't seem to care."

    I don't really see any contradictions between being a "normal" person, and showing some skin on the day of a gay parade, if that's what you mean? Plus straight people trample over my rights by fucking nonstop on all the TV shows, you don't see me call them abnormal for it.

    Posted by: Da | Jan 30, 2007 10:18:16 PM


  12. The English Labour Party has a long history of combative efforts on behalf of working people and others, even if the ‘New Labour’ misleadership of Tony Blair, whose politics are abjectly liberal, has caused the LP to misstep on issues like Iraq.

    While crafting a bill to insure the civil rights of gays and lesbians the Labour Party came under heavy pressure from both anglo and roman catholics and their fellow purveyors of superstition. They wanted to legitimize their bigottry, discrimination and hatemongering against us by being exempted from the new legislation.

    However, even though he's a backward semi liberal, a group of politicians noteworthy for their crocidile tears and stabs in the back, Tony Blair dared not interfere too much with the Labour Party’s legacy of struggle. On Monday, January 29th his government rejected the Dark Ages ideology of christianity and denied them an exemption.

    Contrast that with the actions of the Democratic Party in this country, led by card carrying liberals who lack any semblance of a militant legacy, courage, or backbone. Last week a leading Senate Democrat, Sen. Max Baucus, blocked an amendment to the minimum wage bill that would have provided tax deductions for employer paid health benefits for domestic partners because it would 'distress' Republicans.

    The lesson is that even the worst representative of a Labor Party is better by far than any representative of the Democratic Party. The Democrats will promise anything to get our votes but this is the latest example of what we’ll get in return. We should abandon the Democarts because they're our political enemies just as much as the Republicans, and give out time, money and support to the US Labor Party.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRed Organization | Jan 30, 2007 10:35:36 PM


  13. ^^ And get used to losing like the Green Party. yeah, that fosters change.

    Posted by: mark m | Jan 31, 2007 9:32:49 AM


  14. "Contrast that with the actions of the Democratic Party in this country, led by card carrying liberals who lack any semblance of a militant legacy, courage, or backbone."
    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRed Organization |

    I agree with some of this. The democratic party lacks strong leadership, but mostly ideas.

    It seems to me that they have abandonned a lot of the ideals that made liberalism such a strong and appealing political force in the past: feminism, gay rights, equality, social justice etc..when you contrast that with what the republicans have to offer to their voters in terms of ideas -as much as a lot of it lends to bigotry lately- you quickly understand why their discourse is still finding so much support in the population.

    Posted by: Da | Jan 31, 2007 11:12:33 PM


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    Posted by: BJ | Apr 10, 2007 7:53:10 AM


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