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Catholic church likely to lose appeal for church exemption from anti-discrimination law

Too damn bad, isn’t it?

A bid by the Catholic and Anglican Churches to exempt Catholic adoption agencies from being forced to place children with gay couples under a new British law looked set to fail on Thursday.

The Equality Act, which comes into force in April, is designed to stop discrimination against gay and lesbian couples wishing to adopt a child, but the Church leaders called for an exemption for Catholic adoption agencies on faith grounds.

The emotional battle between Church and state involved even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was said to have favored an exemption, risking a revolt by most of his ministers.

But on Thursday Education Minister Alan Johnson, who has responsibility for adoption, said the government, including Blair, saw no case for special treatment.

…”The case for no exemption has been made very eloquently. The strength of that argument suggests that we cannot introduce legislation to protect gays and lesbians against discrimination and at the same time allow that discrimination to continue.”

Heavy hitter bigots  — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu and Wales Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor — leaned on Blair to intercede on the matter, intimating moral blackmail — that without an exemption the anti-discrimination legislation would put 4,000 kids at risk who are awaiting adoptions because the Catholic church would rather shut down its services rather than let gays adopt.

Murphy-O’Connor’s letter to Blair argued that to force Catholic agencies to place children with gay or lesbian couples went against the Church’s teachings.

“We believe it would be unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the government to insist … Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the Church and their own consciences,” he wrote. 

It should be noted that Jewish and Anglican adoption agencies have not made any claims of desiring an exemption — or have threatened to stop allowing gays and lesbians from adopting.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding