It goes against the grain rather for the GOS to have to support anyone for upholding their religious beliefs. You might as well cling to your childhood faith in fairies, or join the followers of David Eyke who thinks most world leaders are reptilian aliens in disguise (whereas in fact only George Bush and Tony Bliar are).
But on this occasion, we are forced to applaud the stand being taken by Mrs.Lillian Ladele as reported by The Times ...
Marriage registrar faces dismissal for obeying Christian doctrine on homosexual unions
A civil registrar who refuses to officiate at partnerships between same-sex couples, claiming that it is "sinful" and against her religion, has brought a legal case that could have implications for ceremonies conducted throughout the country. Lillian Ladele, 47, a Christian, said yesterday that "as a matter of religious conscience" she could not perform civil partnerships for gay couples. She has accused Islington council, in North London, of religious discrimination and victimisation because it asked her to perform the ceremonies as part of her 31,000 pounds-a-year job.
Employment lawyers said that the case, which has angered gay rights groups, could affect councils throughout the country. It is expected to lead to a landmark ruling over whether employees can be required to act against their consciences. More than 18,000 same-sex ceremonies are performed each year under the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force in December 2005.
Clare Murray, of the employment specialists CM Murray LLP, told The Times that Ms Ladele's case could affect the way that councils throughout Britain organise their civil ceremonies. "They are all governed by the same legislation," she said. Even if Islington did lose, other councils might be able to argue that they were justified in requiring registrars to officiate for same-sex couples.
Ms Ladele said that Islington council was forcing her to choose between her beliefs and keeping her job by requiring her to undertake civil partnership duties. Giving evidence yesterday, she told the employment tribunal in Central London: "I hold the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that this is the God-ordained place for sexual relations. It creates a problem for any Christian if they are expected to do or condone something that they see as sinful. I feel unable to facilitate directly the formation of a union that I sincerely believe is contrary to God's law." More than 600 gay couples have had civil partnership ceremonies in Islington, making it Britain's third-most popular borough for the service.
Ms Ladele, who has worked for the council for 16 years, alleged that she was accused of being homophobic by gay colleagues at Islington town hall and was shunned by staff after refusing to carry out civil partnerships. She claimed that she was "ridiculed" by her boss, the superintendent registrar Helen Mendez-Childs, when she raised her concerns about the new ceremonies in August 2004. Ms Ladele said that her superior had told her that her stance was akin to a registrar refusing to marry a black person. For 15 months she swapped with colleagues to avoid the ceremonies. Formal complaints were made about her in 2006. Ms Ladele, who said that she was surprised that colleagues were offended, said that the council gave her an ultimatum to carry out the ceremonies or face being dismissed for gross misconduct.
She said that, to "punish" her for a principled stance, she was denied the chance to preside over lucrative weddings staged at special premises. "There was no respect whatsoever for my religious beliefs," she said. In 2006, Ms Ladele and another female registrar, who shared similar beliefs, were formally accused by two colleagues of "discriminating against the homosexual community". An internal disciplinary investigation as to whether she was guilty of misconduct began in May 2007. Ms Ladele said that staff started to act in a "different, hostile way towards me". "I continued to be civil towards everyone. People would just blank me. It hurt so badly," she said. She claimed that before the furore she had been conducting about fifty marriages a year but was then allocated as few eight per year. Britain's 1,700 registrars were effectively freelance and could opt out of ceremonies until last December, when they were brought under the control of town halls.
Ben Summerskill, of the gay rights group Stonewall, said that public servants were paid to "uphold the law of the land" and could not discriminate. "Doubtless there were those 40 years ago who claimed a moral objection to mixed marriages between those of different ethnic origin," he said. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, said that the matter was "an important case for religious liberty". He said: "Other occupations allow conscientious objections. No homosexual couple is being denied their right to marriage, because other registrars are performing them."
Islington council denies religious discrimination or victimisation, and claims that Ms Ladele's stance breaches both its dignity-for-all policy and its code of conduct for employees.
At the Nuremberg war trials Nazis weren't allowed to get away with the "I was just following orders" or "I was only doing my job" defence, and I don't see why we should swallow it now. If you think that some part of your job is unpalatable, don't do it! If you can't get your employers to see your point of view, resign.
The fact that the venerable estate of marriage has been polluted and distorted legally, that it's now perfectly legal for two people of the same sex to claim to be "married", doesn't make it right or sensible. And if people don't accept that it's right or sensible, they shouldn't allow themselves to be bullied by any minority and their supporters into thinking different.
We hope that Lillian sticks to her guns. If she believes that her orders are wrong, then it's logical for her to believe that it's wrong to obey them.
The GOS says: So far as I'm concerned if two gay people want to live together, hold their property in common, and come to any kind of legal agreement between them, that's fine by me, though I'd prefer not to have it rammed down my throat (oops, could have phrased that better …!).
But "marriage" it ain't, no matter what the law says. Essentially the legal, moral and societal concept of marriage has been with us unchanged for hundreds of years, and for one small group of people to have forced a change on the rest of us resembles the tail that wagged the dog.
However my real and abiding satisfaction from this story comes from observing two vociferous minorities (well, three really - gays, blacks and fundamentalist Christians) at each others' throats. This one could run and run. We hope.
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