Saturday, February 10, 2007

I have a working pc once again at home so I should be back in circuit. It has not only been that inconvenience which has kept me away but a slight lack of motivation for writing. Not having a pc always to hand does not really help with a case of writer's block (for want of anything better to call it).

But I shall get myself back in gear by beginning my musings once more, starting with a controversial subject (as is my nature!).

What dominated the news when I returned from my disaster of a trip was the issue surrounding Catholic adoption agencies and gay adoption. It may be a bit old now but the issue has had me thinking.

To be blunt I have been wondering what the big fuss is really all about. To begin with it strikes me as unlikely that a gay couple would use a Catholic adoption agency to anyway. If it is the issue of public money being spent then a clause could have easily been added that obliged the respective organisations to refer the hypothetical couples elsewhere in the unlikely scenario in which they were approached. Who would be hurt by this, really? But as always this has brought out the usual chorus of Catholic bashers in the form of militant secularists and intolerant liberals.

Now it may be argued that an exemption on religious grounds could set a dangerous precedent. It could be speculated, for instance, that a Muslim restaurant could refuse to serve Hindus, or vice versa. Or that religious hoteliers of any persuasion could refuse to admit gay couples. However, accessing a public service such as a hotel or restaurant is not the same thing as adopting a child. It raises a different set of issues.

However, setting an exemption clause for religious organisations alone on this matter raises other problems. For instance, an organisation could conceivably object to gay adoption on non religious grounds - merely on a traditionalist belief that a child needs both a father and a mother. Why should such a secular group have to comply while religious groups have an opt out clause?

Surely a simple solution would have been to allow it to be a matter of conscience.
A simple clause that obliged organisations which objected to refer potential adopters to other organisatons which would be able to help them would have seemed a fair enough compromise. There would of course have been some people on either side of the spectrum who this would not have sufficed for but you cannot please everyone. Most reasonable people understand that in life there will come situations where one must compromise.

Despite the commonly held liberal orthodoxy I do not feel that objecting to gay adoption on the belief that children need both a father and a mother amounts to homophobia or even discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Ask me honestly if I think a child would be better off in a traditional family set up and I will give the honest answer that I simply do not know. Who can say in all seriousness that they do? There have not been enough case studies to find out and it may be unlikely that there ever will be.

The closest parallel I can think of is the opt out clause doctors and other medical staff have been given in regards to performing abortions. 'Pro choice' extremists have sometimes opposed this, voicing the ludicrous idea that it amounts to a form of discrimination. This idea is ludicrous simply because refusing to perform an operation because it is against your ethical code is not the same thing as refusing to treat somebody on the grounds of their colour.

Enforcing by law adoption agencies to serve gay couples may indeed set a dangerous precedent. It may well encourage people like those described above to be bolder in demanding that abortion be recognised as a legal right. If this was to be the case then the right to opt out could become a thing of the past. Doctors who refused to participate could find themselves struck off on the grounds that they would be refusing patients what is their legal right. Or people with ethics not unlike my own would cease to enter the profession in the first place. Catholics and Muslims would in effect be barred from the practice.

Such a framework is not what amounts to tolerance. Paradoxically it is an authoritarian form of liberalism that is unable to accept that not everyone shares it's value system. It is willing to use the force of the State to ensure that everybody does share it at least in practice. Whether or not they really do in their hearts is secondary - why use a carrot when the stick suffices to do the job?

Using the might of the State does nothing to shift people's basic value systems. All this will result in will be Catholic adoption agencies shutting up shop, organisations which by all other means have provided a good service over the years. What it will not do is change the view of the church towards homosexuality. A view that for the record I will say that I would like to see change. But I certainly do not believe that this is the way to change it. If anything it has merely created more pain and tension with the gay and Catholic communities (leaving aside gay Catholics for the moment, who I would suspect don't like being once more in the middle of this). I for one would not like being pitted against my own organisation by an agressive and intolerant 'liberal' State.


Political Umpire said...

Welcome back. And congrats on a very sensible post on a tricky subject. I had a few goes on this, and it caused some severe ructions between two of my regular and valued contributors. Which only goes to show what a tricky subject it is, but I think you've been as level headed as anyone on the subject.

PS any chance of some pictures from the trip? (Insensitive request I know, it's probably the last thing you want to blog about at the moment, and I don't know about you but I'm rubbish at uploading pictures onto the web anyway. I'm just being selfish as I miss the scenery)

Liz said...

Hi PU - indeed it is a tricky subject.

Your question - I understand why you might make such a request. But I am sorry to say I'll have to reply in the negative. For one thing we did not take our own camera, we used my boyfriend's parents one and the material is on their pc. I could ask him to request them to send it but I don't really want to. And secondly I don't want to put pictures of that trip on my blog due to the way it turned out. The results of it have been worse than you know about, believe me. I hope you understand.

Political Umpire said...

Hi Liz,

Of course I understand, it was wrong (selfish) of me to ask. Apologies. No doubt given your experiences the subject is best left for a while.

I myself am in a bit of a muddle about being here as opposed to be there. I don't want to go back, and won't, but I also dwell on the subject from time to time. That doesn't make sense, and it isn't really meant to. It annoys Mrs Umpire (who is English) who does not want to go for a variety of understandable reasons. It is one of those ideas one has that works as an idea but not otherwise.

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