It is a troublesome problem.
The government is bringing forth new legislation to stop discrimination against gay couples. As an affect of this legislation Catholic Adoption Agencies would no longer be able to turn down a couple purely because they are gay.
The Catholic Church has said it would like an exemption to this law or it will have to close its 10 adoption agencies. These handle around 4% of adoptions in the UK, but about 30% of the very difficult adoptions involving older children or children with problems.
It would be very problematic if these agencies were to close.
I am puzzled by some of this row. The Catholic Church has used potential closure of the agencies as almost a blackmail tool. In one breath they say there concern is the fate of these children, and yet they seem to be prepared to abandon them, to let them fall, over a debatable piece of doctrine.
On the other hand, the political press has transformed this issue into one about cabinet splits, Blair's loss of authority, etc, etc. The BBC has even said "this has turned into a debate about the Prime Minister’s authority ..." while conveniently forgetting that it is them and Nick Robinson (their political editor) that has done the turning.
They seem to not be able to understand that this is a very difficult issue whichever way you look at it, and I would be worried about a cabinet that DIDN'T go through all the options and discuss this issue both politically and ethically at length and with passion.
The media have been reporting that Blair and Ruth Kelly are pro an exemption. However, there has been absolutely no substantiation for these claims. They are just reported as if we ought to automatically believe them. Again.
Now Blair has come out and said he is personally in favour of Gay Couples adopting. So how does that fit? Is he lying, or have the Beeb been caught making it up as they go along.
I do not agree with many of Blair’s decisions, but I do believe that he is almost radically into the whole idea of fairness and equality. And I think Ruth Kelly holds a similar stance. Therefore, whatever their religious beliefs, it is hard to see that they would turn away from those core principles quite so easily.
To add to the confusion, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury has come out in support of the Catholics by saying that you should not legislate over a matter of concience. Does that mean that some one can discriminate against Jews if ther concience or teachings tell them they are devils? In which case we should allow radical muslims to be antisemitic and to ban Jews from their shops and streets and businesses ... does this sound familiar? Does the problematic archbishop realise what he has just said? (As an aside, if ever there was someone who should keep thier mouth shut, it is he!)
From my point of view, as I have no religion, I err on the side of sorting out the discrimination. But for somebody with deeply held religious beliefs I can see tha this is a mind bending puzzle.