Wednesday, January 19, 2011
'Now some people are more equal than others': Despair of Christian hotel owners penalised for turning away homosexuals
Two Christian hotel owners punished for refusing a bed to a gay couple claimed yesterday that their religion is being suppressed. Peter and Hazelmary Bull said Christianity had been pushed to the margins of society, and added: ‘Some people are more equal than others.’
They spoke out after a landmark court decision awarded £1,800 each to civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were denied a double room under the Bulls’ policy of allowing only married couples to share a bed in the hotel that is also their home.
The ruling by a judge in Bristol sealed the supremacy of gay rights over Christian belief under the Sexual Orientation Regulations pushed through by Tony Blair four years ago.
The laws prevent discrimination against homosexuals by businesses and state organisations, but have had the knock-on effect of requiring Christians who run small concerns to set their principles and beliefs aside if they wish to stay in business.
And Judge Andrew Rutherford also broke new ground by insisting that in the eyes of the law there is no difference between a civil partnership and a marriage.
Although civil partnership conveys precisely the same rights and privileges on a gay couple as marriage does on heterosexuals, the Labour ministers who introduced civil partnerships always said they were merely contracts and did not amount to marriage. But the judge said: ‘There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership.’
His ruling may lead to a long legal battle if the Bulls appeal, with a possibility that the case will go as far as the country’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Court.
The Bulls were sued over their married-only policy on double beds. They were ordered to pay each of the victims £1,800 in compensation for the ‘hurt and embarrassment they suffered’.
Outside court, Mrs Bull said the verdict had serious implications for the religious liberty of Christians who would be forced to act against ‘deeply and genuinely held beliefs’. The 66-year-old and her husband, 70, live at the seven-bedroom Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, Cornwall, and have only ever allowed married couples to share a double room since they opened for business 25 years ago.
They had accepted a booking for a double room from Mr Preddy, 38, believing he would be staying with his wife. It was only when he arrived at the £80-a-night hotel with his 46-year-old civil partner that they were turned away.
IT workers Mr Preddy and Mr Hall described themselves as feeling ‘angry and humiliated’ and contacted police, who helped them find alternative accommodation. The two men deny suggestions that their booking was a set-up on behalf of gay rights group Stonewall, which had previously written to the hotel owners about their rules.
Mrs Bull said: ‘Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody. It was applied equally and consistently to unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples, as the judge accepted.’
Their legal battle was aided by the Christian Institute think tank, while Mr Preddy and Mr Hall were supported by the taxpayer-funded state equality body the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr and Mrs Bull, who have previously admitted they are struggling to pay debts, are facing financial ruin after being ordered to pay most of the costs of the commission. Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, from Bristol, had asked for £5,000 damages, claiming sexual orientation discrimination.
In his 12-page ruling, Judge Rutherford said that in the past 50 years social attitudes had changed. He added that the Bulls ‘have the right to manifest their religion or beliefs’ and said both sides in the case ‘hold perfectly honourable and respectable, albeit wholly contrary, views’. However, he concluded that the Bulls ‘discriminate on the basis of marital status’.
‘There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership. If that is right, then upon what basis do the defendants draw a distinction if it is not on sexual orientation? The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow [the claimants] to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation and that this is direct discrimination.’
But Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘This ruling is further evidence that equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield. Christians are being sidelined.’
It's marriage, not paternity leave, that gives British children the best start
Does marriage matter? Not to the Deputy Prime Minister, it would seem. Setting out his vision of family policy this week, Nick Clegg said that government ministers should not ‘preach’ to parents about marriage — what mattered, instead, was helping them make their relationships work.
And yet, how I wish somebody would preach about marriage. How I yearn for a politician (or even an archbishop) to start banging the drum for the greatest family institution of all.
They could enthuse about the deep companionship and trust marriage brings, its safety and refuge, its strength and support, its humour and grace.
How I long for Nick Clegg — presumably desperate to recover ground after the tuition fees debacle and make what political capital he can from pushing the equality agenda forward — to make a speech, instead, where he tells us how worthwhile marriage is, how it is the ideal framework in which to bring up children and therefore the one to which we should all aspire.
He won’t, of course. But he will say that he backs plans to allow fathers to take up to six months’ maternity leave (increasing to ten months by 2015).
This seems to me to exemplify his muddled thinking. It will benefit only a small proportion of the population — mothers who are married to men with freelance jobs who earn less than they do.
For the rest, I don’t see many men wanting to risk taking so much time out of their career. A man who wants to spend ten months at home with his baby is a very rare beast, in my experience (or, more likely, a liar).
Meanwhile, one of America’s foremost campaigners for increased maternity leave is warning women that taking too much time can be counterproductive: taking any longer than six months seems likely to fatally set back your prospects of pay and promotion.
Indeed, isn’t it about time that both men and women grew up a little? Four out of six mothers work today, compared with one in six in 1951. If your job matters to you, then don’t take more than six months’ maternity leave — and don’t expect your husband to, either.
It doesn’t mean you can’t still be a good mother. And the benefits of the workplace — an engaged brain and another dimension to your world — are more than financial.
Besides, since when did we get the notion that we’re all entitled to an easy life? Yes, it’s hard to be a working mother — but it’s not impossible.
It requires determination, a willingness to invest in the best childcare you can afford, and a recognition that you will need to abandon any meaningful social life when your children are small.
But most of all, it requires a supportive husband. And if Nick Clegg really wants to improve the nation’s parenting, he should forget about paternity leave and concentrate instead on a truly radical policy: promoting marriage.
By all means adopt some of the proposals put forward by Demos — the Left-wing think-tank whose latest report Clegg was endorsing.
Broadening the role of health visitors, using ante-natal classes to prepare new parents for the strain a new baby will place on their relationship, and offering a parenting ‘booster’ class to parents when their child starts primary school are all excellent ideas.
But the wisest idea of all is the oldest and the simplest: to take that leap of faith and make a public commitment to love and honour each other until death.
It’s not the product of any think-tank. But I’m quite sure that it’s one of the best things we can ever do — for ourselves, for our society and, most importantly of all, for our children.
Lots of schoolgirl pregnancies in Memphis, Tennessee
Mostly blacks, apparently. Traditional standards regarding pregnancy seem to have been stood on their head. With welfare payments easier than working, why not?
As Memphis City Schools leaders discuss the best way to deal with the crisis at Frayser High School, one young student is dealing with parenthood. The Action News 5 Investigators recently discovered 90 girls who attend Frayser High School are now pregnant or have already had a baby this school year.
Frayser is in Memphis City School Board member Stephanie Gatewood's district. She said a former principal of the school first sounded the alarm about the issue about a year ago.
Sources told Action News 5 there is a massive initiative in the works dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy in the Frayser community. The initiative will include after-school and in-school programs funded with grant money and run by a local nonprofit that already does some work for city schools.
Gatewood said there are programs right now to help students. "Noting that our young ladies absolutely did not get pregnant in the hallways of our schools," said Gatewood. "So while everything that happens in our communities, it just spills over into our schools. Now we as a community have to deal with them." Greenwood said the school board has implemented some plans to help children who are already parents or are about to become parents.
Roughly 20 percent of the female student population at Frayser High is already experiencing the trials of parenthood.
"It's a shame that all these girls at Frayser are pregnant, but it ain't nothing new," said Sutton. "Some girls just try to do it because they think it's cute. For some, it's an accident." Sutton said she believes some girls are making agreements with each other to get pregnant. "They probably plan it," she said. "Plan what they're going to do to get pregnant. No telling."
Sutton said educators need to do more to try to help prevent teen pregnancies. "They need a class where they can teach the girls before they get pregnant to use protection and stuff," said Sutton. "And don't try to get pregnant."
Australia: Sculptor defies 'bullies' and refuses to take down anti-burka mural
A SYDNEY artist whose anti-burka mural has infuriated left-wing and Islamic activists is vowing that the provocative artwork will stay in place despite death threats, abuse, a string of vandalism attacks, a violent weekend protest and a police request to remove it.
Newtown glass sculptor Sergio Redegalli has this week restored the mural painted outside his studio for more than the 40th time after dozens of graffiti and paint-bomb attacks by protesters who say it is racist and inflammatory.
In the latest incident last Sunday, a crowd of 50 activists hurled paint at the mural and then turned on police who had to call in reinforcements to restore order.
Seven men were arrested and charged with offences including resisting police, assaulting police and destroying or damaging property.
The charges will be heard in Newtown Local Court next month. Redegalli blames local left-wing groups, rather than Muslim activists, for the incident.
The sculptor, who is a well-known figure in inner-suburban Newtown, says he has since been visited by local police who asked him to take down the mural after learning of a threat to fire-bomb it.
He refuses to do so in the interests of free speech and public debate. "I'm not going to let the bullies win," Redegalli told The Australian yesterday. "I'm not doing it for pride (but because) I don't believe bullies have the right to stand over people and deny us our freedoms."
Redegalli painted the mural and slogan "Say no to burqas" on an exterior wall of his glassworks last September, after a local fashion designer received death threats over a plan to feature models wearing the traditional Islamic garment in a fashion parade.
The artist says his objective is to promote debate about the Islamic face veil, which he sees as a symbol of repression and violent extremism.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.