We’ve been watching Britain’s gay adoption drama with a wary eye. As you may know, Catholic and other religious organizations opposed the government’s anti-discrimination laws that would require them to allow gays to adopt. Flexing their political muscle, more than a few leaders came out against the Tony Blair-led government.
For his part, Blair suggested allowing anti-gay religious groups an exception. Gay activists and secularly-minded (and, in fact, a few religious) politicians insisted the rule would violate the law. Devout Catholic and Home Secretary John Reid broke rank when he defended the law:
If you bring in a law which says all people will be treated equally, then all people will be treated equally.
I don’t believe you, in this country, have the right to overrule some of the fundamental values on which the country is based because you have a conscientious objection. That’s my view.
Pretty bad ass, huh?
Well, after weeks of debate and many a headache, Prime Minister Blair has said that religious organizations cannot discriminate against gays and lesbians, but with some stipulation:
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.
So, organizations opposed to gay adoption have a about two years to get it out of their system before they’re legally obligated to support gay adoptions.
While certainly this marks a huge political, social (and, yes, religious) step, it seems a bit irrational to give people an extra few months of discrimination. If a politician were really serious about equality (which, in this case, it seems Blair is not), they would implement the laws squarely across the board. But, of course, that’s just our opinion. Some gay UK groups, meanwhile, have celebrated the move. For example, Stonewall UK – which endorsed a shorter, six-month transition – released this statement:
We are delighted that the cabinet has listened carefully to what we have been saying and we know that there is huge support for unconditional equality and that is what these regulations, for which we have campaigned so hard, will afford.
We had suggested a preparatory period of 6 to 12 months but 18 months is more than enough time for agencies to retrain their staff appropriately.
Um, you think?
It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the end of 2008, when all homo-adoption hell breaks loose.