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This was a free vote and whilst I think David Cameron is wrong about this issue the failure of any members of the Shadow Cabinet to vote against says more about them than him. I am very suprised at the behaviour of some of them. I think the Conservative party will in time come to regret that they did not all vote for freedom of conscience.

Tonight David Cameron is addressing the Conservative Christian Fellowship... just 24 hours after he betrayed the groups that the CCF champions.

Sorry but why are the regulations "illiberal" but the Catholic church's discrimination perfectly acceptable?

the 85 Tory MPs who voted against the illiberal regulations that would compel Catholic adoption agencies to place children with gay couples

Interesting to see Ken Clarkes name on that list, despite the fact he supported gay adoption. I wonder if any Labour MPs opposed it-there are a few socially conservative left wingers, even though it sounds a contradiction in terms.

Tbh this has always been something I've never been entirely comfortable with, even though I *totally* support the whole of the rest of the gay rights agenda, including civil partnerships.

The question is asked and answered in Isaby's own piece, linked to above: no, there was no whipping, secret or otherwise.

"I wouldn't say it was as strong as that," I am informed by a reliable source . "I think colleagues decided themselves not to cause difficulties for David Cameron, so opted not to vote at all rather than oppose his position".

Had I been able to vote I should have opposed his position; it was a free vote, and I think that is evidenced by the fact that 85 Tory MPs voted against and only 29 for.

(why is)the Catholic church's discrimination perfectly acceptable?

I'm not a christian, indeed I am what George Monibot recently described as an 'evangelical Atheist'

However I don't think this is a case of simple discrimination in the same way as if a pub or shop keeper refused to serve two gay men just because they are gay. We are going beyond the prinicple of 'two consenting adults' to include a third person-a baby or child. The adoption agency has to decide in the best interests of that third person as they are too young to do so themselves.

"Sorry but why are the regulations "illiberal" but the Catholic church's discrimination perfectly acceptable?"

Because it is a private organisation that doesn't tell other organisations how they can and cannot choose their customers. Furthermore it voluntarily puts homosexuals who approach it in contact with secular agencies.

What has been lost (or more likely ignored for political expedience) is that the Catholic church's stance is not anti-gay per se. The church's teachings prohibit cohabitation by either heterosexual or homosexual couples and the Catholic Adoption Agency would equally refuse to place a child with a cohabiting heterosexual couple, while they would (and indeed have on numerous occasions) place children with appropriate, single, gay parents

This is a question of the church's moral standpoint and has been hijacked by those wishing to erode people's right to live their lives and make decisions by their own moral or religious compass in favour of state-imposed thought dictation and it is to the Shadow Cabinet's shame that they have ALL refused to oppose it (despite Davis's publicly stated opposition)

The Churches can't have it both ways - either they are organisations completely removed from the state, and don't seek to influence Government policy where it doesn't directly concern them, or they do and they have to accept that they cannot complain when the state seeks to influence what they do.

I think the Catholic church didn't help their cause by agreeing that a single gay adoption was acceptable. Once a child is adopted and that person enters a civil partnership does the agency step in, no of course not.

I can see the case for not interfering with an organisation and how it works but if such arguments are based on faith then consistency is required.

Kingbono, a single gay adopting is perfectly acceptable to the Catholic Church IF the person in question abides by the requirement for a non-married Catholic (i.e. celibacy). The interviewing and vetting process will have established that they are extremely unlikely to enter into such a relationship in future

The Catholic Church, contrary to popular opinion, is NOT anti-gays, but it IS opposed to sodomy - a fine line I agree, but there we are


The question is simply one of chastity, and that means adoption by married couples or single people. The Church would place with single gay people, but they would make a judgement as to the likelihood of a union outside of marriage being formed when deciding if to place.

When you believe, as Catholics and millions of Christians of other denominations also do, that sex outside of marriage is sinful, then obviously you are not going to do harm to a child by placing them in a situation where the child will be harmed by daily exposure to that.

Unmarried heterosexual couples also have the right to adopt under this legislation, and the Church would refuse to place with them for the same reason.

It's not a matter of 'gay or straight' therefore but 'married or unmarried'. Cohabiting straight/gay is equally unacceptable because of the moral harm done to the child.

The point is that the Catholic Church was finding good, kind homes with good parents (some single gay people) for about 1/3 of the most hard to place children.

There will not be tons of gay couples demanding to adopt these children, as they form a tiny percentage of all adoptive parents. Instead, these usually unwanted, disabled, "difficult" kids will spend their lives in orphanages because the Government has placed the demands of gay couples, who could have been served in many other places, above the welfare of these kids.

The Church is in the business of helping orphans. It is not in the business of hurting children, of exposing them day in day out to a situation it believes (as do many people of many other faiths) is inherently morally wrong.

Discrimination law should only by used where the balance of power would otherwise be too unequal. I don’t see a battle between Catholic Church and the gay movement as being particularly unequal so, frankly, it’s a squabble they should be able to sort out for themselves.

Given the choice we have today, I’d support the government. But we are wrestling with the wrong end of the bull. Rather than arguing for the dangerous precedent of exempting a church from a law, we should be seeking to refine the law.

Thanks for posting this, Tim.

This issue resulted in one of the more emotive threads when the matter first appeared a few months ago. If we are to go down well worn paths again in this thread, let us not lose sight of the significance of the voting we have observed.

Irrespective of whipping, Cameron has delivered a consensus of sorts (a leaning if not a direction) within the Shadow Cabinet which is notable for its contrast with their parliamentry colleagues.

Irrespective of religious beliefs (or absence of them) Cameron and a large part of the Shadow Cabinet has voted against the principle of freedom of conscience.

It would be mischievous to ask if they are linked... But seriously, neither of these are casual acts or the product of chance.

So what lies beneath?

I very much agree with comstock. I'm a strong proponent of the right to deny someone service (I'm arguing in support of the right to be racist with a friend right now).

But comstock is right. In the instance where the 'product' is the property of the proprietor, it is entirely that proprietors right to sell it to who he wishes on what grounds he wishes.

The fact is these children are not the property of the Catholic Church, and the Church is duty bound to find these children a home. Their prejudices should not be allowed to get in the way.

Come on Editor, this is what you're signing up for. Cameron is a liberal (more in the American than the European sense). Political correctness is what this man is ALL about. It's not one of the depressing acts of his leadership, it's the very core. Don't support his vote on this, and you don't support the man.

"I wonder if any Labour MPs opposed it"

10 Labour MPs and 4 Libdems voted agaisnt it

Don't go overboard on the Catholic adoption point but look at one overall point. Under regulation 11 you can be prosecuted if you so much as encourage anyone else to "discriminate" under the new rules. This would cover even writing a letter to a local paper. You won't even be able to advertise if your view is "discrimination". How totalitarian is that? This was the Soviet bloc in the 1980s - but here in Britain? The only hope is that the Lords oppose it.

Either the law applies equally to religious groups or not. If we start granting opt-outs the floodgates will open to every other religion that wishes to be above the law. I agree that this legislation will effect few homosexual couples looking to adopt, but there is a bigger picture here. We need to be very careful of the messages we are sending to religious groups, especially in light of the increasing conflict being waged in society between militant Islam and British laws and values.

I do think though that if Catholic adoption agencies prefer to leave a child in care than to place it with parents considered loving, stable, and suitable, that happen to be homosexual, then they are failing in their duty to do the best for the child. They are simply unfit to run an adoption facility, according to the law of the land, which has implied that a proportion of homosexual parents are as fit to raise children as some heterosexual ones. Surely prejudice is prejudice whether it is derived from religions teachings or a political ideology - it shouldn't be a used to deny a child a loving home.

Mark Fulford and to some extent Buckers are right. There should be no exemptions for religions. Instead the very basis of the law, which puts the emphasis on parents' rights instead of chidrens' rights, should be challenged; the law ought not to be amended but rejected.

The law is wrong. Some parents are not really fit parents for adoptive children, those who live together outside of marriage. The Church believes this, as do I, and many millions of others, including most voters - a poll was done on the subject and 63% of voters thought the Church ought to have had an exemption.

So outside the media classes, large majorities of people stick to the view that only singles or marrieds, not cohabiting couples either gay OR straight, should raise children.

I have children. Were a disaster to happen to me and my whole extended family, I would far rather they were raised in an orphanage than in a house where they were exposed day in, day out, as they grew up, to cohabitation. I respect the rights of adults to make that choice for themselves, not to force it on children as a morally acceptable way to live.

Many - most, according to the polls - of us actually believe in souls, and in standards of morality. We believe there is such a thing as moral harm as well as physical harm. Love and hugs are very important, but if a couple, even a married couple, were let's say habitually smoking pot and practising white witchcraft, to me that would outweight a "loving home" by a long way in the irreperable harm it would do to the child.

What the law says is that religious organisations MUST accept sex outside of marriage is OK and not harmful morally, and they must act accordingly. Or, to put it another way, they MUST place children in homes they believe will damage them irreperably for the rest of their lives.

Of course the Church would refuse to harm a child. Of course the Church would shut an adoption agency rather than harm a child. And of course there are not loads of gay couples wanting to take on disabled, older, hard to place kids with behavioural problems - so - again, of course - the result of this is a generation growing up in care that the Church could have placed with loving, stable married couples or loving single people, including gay single people.

Better be my last post on the topic as IMO people are most unlikely to be convinced. But I do want to emphasise that a very large majority of the public opposed the gay lobby's position on this particular bill, and the public (like me) are in favour of things like civil partnerships.

I will just add that this from Goldie is utterly false:

"Don't support his vote on this, and you don't support the man."

I believe my credentials as an ardent supporter of David Cameron are very well established. I firmly believe he was utterly wrong to support this bill, but I am grateful to him for making it a free vote (cf: Isaby's article, it was indeed a free vote). I remain a strong supporter of his. You don't have to march in lock step on an unwhipped issue to be a real supporter.

The Churches can't have it both ways - either they are organisations completely removed from the state,

This is attractive Greg- we could have Roman Catholic towns, Protestant towns, Muslim towns, and Towns without Faith for the rest.

Do you really want to create Muslim polities within England ? How interesting - float your idea to the MCB

So Cameron makes up the dirty baker's dozen of Polically Correct enemies of freedom who have hi-jacked our party.

No surprise there. It simply proves the point I have been making for weeks.

Cameron is a socialist who wants to tell us how to think. Only the accident of his aristocratic/OE background has led him to the Conservative Party rather than his natural home - the party that introduced this evil legislation.

The party is crammed with decent Tories who are seeting about Cameron's Political Correctness on the gay adoption issue. The only thing that keeps the lid on is Labour's continuing failure to regain a poll lead.

Payback time will come, and I still think it will come sooner than later.

I read all the way to the then of this depressing thread, waiting for you Alex, and there you are! There really is no show without punch, eh?

Let me tell you the good news Mr Compton.

Reading the endlessly repetitive tripe from the clique of Camerloon trolls, without the right to express my contempt in the terms I would choose (which would incur an instant ban) becomes more than a little tedious.

Lately I've been cutting down my contributions and spending more time playing the markets. Sadly, given recent slides, I can't relly say I've been using my time more profitably.

Now the bad news.

When you and your merry little band are feeling really sorry for yourselves (and believe me it will happen)I will be back with a vengeance.

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

I very much agree with comstock........ In the instance where the 'product' is the property of the proprietor, it is entirely that proprietors right to sell it to who he wishes on what grounds he wishes.

The fact is these children are not the property of the Catholic Church, and the Church is duty bound to find these children a home. Their prejudices should not be allowed to get in the way.

Which is pretty much the opposite of what I said at 21.57 last night..... I think.... Maybe....Oh I dunno.........:D

This is such a minefield, worse than the bloomin abortion threads :D

I think the vote reflects badly on the shadow cabinet, either they agree with DC but not the majority of the party (in which case they're unrepresentative and don't care about the grass roots) or they're too scared to oppose DC (in which case they're spineless).

It all still begs the question - if this is right in principle why should there be an opt-out. And if it's not why aren't we opposing it out of principle?

If we can tolerate sodomist's beliefs surely we can tolerate the catholic creed too.

The churches actually have given tacit and overt support to the liberal tendencies and parties that drive this legislation.

In the same way that many priests tacitly support the Lib Dems and yet ignore the Lib Dems desire to end church schools.

So if they do not like where we are they only have themselves to blame.

Until church leaders are prepared to come out and back sensible things like marriage, then they have no right to expect support from us.

The next time a govt minister (like Alan Johnson) speaks out for single parent families I want to see ALL the church leaders condemn him for saying that is as good as a marriage for raising children.

This is a moral question that the churches maintain a deathly silence on.

I guess its one of those "when hell freezes over" waits.......

Which way would Christian Tory MP, William Wilberforce have voted? I suspect he may have put the interests of the children first and been happy to 'discriminate' in their favour.

I would have voted against the Government's plans. Cameron may wish to pander to one and all, but this is a serious issue and the children concerned must come first. If we push the Church away by saying that they must fall in line with discrimination legislation, then we are cutting away the chances of a child in care finding a good home.

If the Church is not exempt from these laws on the grounds that they must apply to all, why has Westminster exempted itself?

Everyone's talking about "the children must come first", but same-sex adoption is already legal. This isn't about that - this is about whether or not agencies can continue to discriminate.

And surely finding the best possible home for the children should come above all else?

I don’t understand why “children come first” is relevant to this argument. The Adoption Bill allowed gay adoption from November 2002. If you have an issue with that law then campaign on it specifically, but don’t confuse it with discrimination law.

The sole point of debate is whether religious groups should be allowed exemptions to the law. In this case the applicable law is discrimination law, but it could be any law.

As a side issue, Frank seems very hung-up on sodomy. Totally irrelevant and quite bizarre that you should worry about it so much! Heterosexual parents don’t hump in front of their children and, would you believe it, nor do gay parents.

Those who say that there should be no exemptions from the law in this case are essentially arguing that the law is free to impose criminal sanctions over matters of conscience. I think that is why Ken Clarke opposed these regulations even though, like me, he is not opposed to the concept of gay adoption.

Of course, given the number of Cultural Marxists in all three major parties, it is no surprise that the Establishment now feels it has a divine (or should I say secular?) right to use the criminal law to impose its moral views on everyone else. In a sense it is deja vu because this country for centuries imposed criminal and civil penalties on Catholics. I suspect that the metropolitan left would like to see those reintroduced and not a few Tories would agree.

I was disappointed at the outcome of the vote, but felt a free vote was essential on this issue.

I really don't see why you are allowing comments on this subject after two previous threads that contained some very powerful arguments for and against the Bill and, sadly, some deeply unpleasant posts. What's your agenda, Ed? I'm all for free speech but we've been there and got the t-shirts. I can't see how recycling old arguments is constructive or productive.

On another note, can you clarify whether it is acceptable for the 'word' "Camerloon" to be used on this site? Personally, I find it offensive and churlish. It also lowers the tone of the debate of the day.

I should have thought, by definition, a religious organisation is obliged to discriminate against those who don't share it's beliefs, on occasion, if it is to remain true to its beliefs.

As is a political party, or indeed, any organisation that works to an ideology.

The vote by Shadow Cabinet members is disappointing but unsurprising. Most of them view any social policiy that originated with the GLC in the early eighties as orthodoxy. The vote by the new intake, and by some socially liberal Conservatives, OTOH, is encouraging.

"...matters of conscience"

If matters of conscience were a reason to be exempted from laws of the land, I’d want an exemption on any tax raised for fighting a war in Iraq. I dare say we can all come up with matters of conscience...

Presumably those who want an exemption to discrimination law for the Catholic Church would also support an exemption to cannabis law for Rastafarians, etc.

Excellent post (as always!), Mark.

A bloody disgrace, how can they justify supporting such an illiberal piece of fascist legislation, designed to discriminate against a large body of people.
DC should be ashamed of himself.
Excommunicate the blighters.

Well Mark, the Muslims are now asking for an exemption to the smoking laws so they may continue enjoying their hookahs.
Chacun etc,.

Mark Fulford,

You seem to forget that we already have exemptions from laws on grounds of conscience. Sikhs do not have to wear hard hats on building sites, those doctors against abortion do not have to cooperate with it.

Do we want to be a country at ease with itself, or a country balkanised into competing pressure groups?

If matters of conscience were a reason to be exempted from laws of the land, I’d want an exemption on any tax raised for fighting a war in Iraq.

I want a Conscription Act passed and then to have Mark Fulford shot as a conscientious objector

As I said in previous threads, no one has established the need for any legisltion in these matters. If there is no substantial harm or suffering, then Parliament should not legislate.

How many gay adopters have suffered from the Catholic Agencies' current policies? Answer: probably none. Even if a gay couple had been turned down but referred to another agency, what great public harm would have been done? Answer very little, possibly no more than a bit of disappointment. This is not like the earlier need to ban racial discrimation in areas like housing, where thousands were suffering real harm.

This is gesture politics at its worst. It brings no real or substantial benfits, but brings great harm in the form of interference in matters of conscience and free speech.

What we are seeing now from this illiberal Government, supported by Cameron, is enforced atheism. What the Government are saying in effect is: "Our, the Government's, view that there is moral equivalence between traditional marriage and homosexual sex is the only one that shall henceforth govern your conduct in this country. You, religious organisations, will not now be allowed to act in accordance with your conscientious beliefs to the contrary and still receive taxpayers' money as before, even though it is fully acknowledged that you have been doing excellent adoption work, and even though large numbers of you religious believers are amongst those very taxpayers." (Please note that I am not speaking here of non-discrimination against gays as individuals - I SUPPORT that non-discrimination. What I am objecting to is the stifling of religious conscience as regards BELIEFS, and, more, a Government attitude that says in effect "The only reasonable view on this matter is our politically correct one, and if you, religious adherents, believe that there is a God and that that God has revealed His Will on this matter - tough, because our, the Government's, view on this matter is different, and that is the one that is now going to prevail." I think it is intellectual dishonesty that refuses to see the distinction between non-discrimination against individuals on the one hand and an attempt to change sincerely-held religious BELIEFS on the other.) And when I see the gerrymandering, the deliberate avoidance of any meaningful debate, that took place in the Commons last night ... well, I wonder if I am living in the old Eastern Europe.

Which way would Christian Tory MP, William Wilberforce have voted? I suspect he may have put the interests of the children first and been happy to 'discriminate' in their favour.

Wilberforce was one of the leading campaigners behind the establishment of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, so I think it’s pretty obvious which way he would have voted on this issue.

...and what he would think of Cameron.

Heterosexual parents don’t hump in front of their children and, would you believe it, nor do gay parents.

Are you a gay parent Mark? If not, how would you know?

I support non-discrimination against gays as individuals ("They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided" - Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358). I fully accept that and simply draw attention to the important word "unjust". The legitimate rights of gays do not include the right to make me change my religious belief. It is not unjust for a Catholic adoption agency to refuse a same-sex application on the ground that it sincerely considers that agreeing to it would not be in the best interests of the child. Indeed, it is unjust to me as a religious believer if, however respectfully, compassionately and sensitively I treat gays as individuals (which I try to do anyway; they are God's children no less than I) - if the State in addition puts pressure on me to change my religious belief as to the nature of homosexual sex and not to act in any practical way - and however gently - in accordance with that belief. I'm sorry, they can put me in prison but I will not deny my God.

"how would you know?"

You really are an idiot.

I'm sorry, they can put me in prison but I will not deny my God.

but you can deny the legitimacy of The State. In fact do we not condemn people who obeyed the laws in 1930s Germany ? Don't we say The State is not absolute and it can be a force for great evil.

There is little to choose between this piece of legislation and the Nuremberg Laws really; they both tell people that they must deny reality and accept ideological "truth" as being valid

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