|Martyn Hall and Steve Preddy|
Q. When is a civil partnership the same as marriage?
A. When a judge says so. That's according to a verdict at Bristol County Court.
Q. When is a civil partnership not the same as a marriage?
A. When the Government says so.
My thoughts on this in purple, bold.
Courtesy of Daily Mail
'Two Christian hotel owners punished for refusing a bed to a gay couple claimed yesterday that their religion is being suppressed. Peter and Hazelmary Bull said Christianity had been pushed to the margins of society, and added: ‘Some people are more equal than others.’
They spoke out after a landmark court decision awarded £1,800 each to civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were denied a double room under the Bulls’ policy of allowing only married couples to share a bed in the hotel that is also their home.
The ruling by a judge in Bristol sealed the supremacy of gay rights over Christian belief under the Sexual Orientation Regulations pushed through by Tony Blair four years ago. The laws prevent discrimination against homosexuals by businesses and state organisations, but have had the knock-on effect of requiring Christians who run small concerns to set their principles and beliefs aside if they wish to stay in business [which is ironic, because that's exactly what Tony Blair did...].
Now we get to the important bold and underlined bit...
And Judge Andrew Rutherford also broke new ground by insisting that in the eyes of the law there is no difference between a civil partnership and a marriage. Although civil partnership conveys precisely the same rights and privileges on a gay couple as marriage does on heterosexuals, the Labour ministers who introduced civil partnerships always said they were merely contracts and did not amount to marriage [What does it matter what Labour MPs said? It's what is on the Statute book that counts and how that law is interpreted in court. Oh, you mean everyone was misled apart from the interested party of the legislation - Stonewall. How very Tony Blair. Meanwhile, I see there has been another suicide bombing in Iraq today...].
But the judge said: ‘There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership.’
His ruling may lead to a long legal battle if the Bulls appeal, with a possibility that the case will go as far as the country’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Court.
The Bulls were sued over their married-only policy on double beds. They were ordered to pay each of the victims £1,800 in compensation for the ‘hurt and embarrassment they suffered’. Outside court, Mrs Bull said the verdict had serious implications for the religious liberty of Christians who would be forced to act against ‘deeply and genuinely held beliefs’.
The 66-year-old and her husband, 70, live at the seven-bedroom Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, Cornwall, and have only ever allowed married couples to share a double room since they opened for business 25 years ago. They had accepted a booking for a double room from Mr Preddy, 38, believing he would be staying with his wife. It was only when he arrived at the £80-a-night hotel with his 46-year-old civil partner that they were turned away.
IT workers Mr Preddy and Mr Hall described themselves as feeling ‘angry and humiliated’ and contacted police, who helped them find alternative accommodation. The two men deny suggestions that their booking was a set-up on behalf of gay rights group Stonewall, which had previously written to the hotel owners about their rules.
|Christian hotel owners, Mr and Mrs Bull|
Mrs Bull said: ‘Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody. It was applied equally and consistently to unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples, as the judge accepted.’
She left Bristol County Court to visit her husband in hospital where he was due to have triple heart bypass surgery yesterday. Their legal battle was aided by the Christian Institute think tank, while Mr Preddy and Mr Hall were supported by the taxpayer-funded state equality body the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Mr and Mrs Bull, who have previously admitted they are struggling to pay debts, are facing financial ruin after being ordered to pay most of the costs of the commission [activist gays get financial/legal support from EHR Commission, Christians have to pay costs of EHR Commission. All sounds fair and 'equal'...]
Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, from Bristol, had asked for £5,000 damages, claiming sexual orientation discrimination. In his 12-page ruling, Judge Rutherford said that in the past 50 years social attitudes had changed. He added that the Bulls ‘have the right to manifest their religion or beliefs’ and said both sides in the case ‘hold perfectly honourable and respectable, albeit wholly contrary, views’.
However, he concluded that the Bulls ‘discriminate on the basis of marital status’. ‘There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership. If that is right, then upon what basis do the defendants draw a distinction if it is not on sexual orientation? [Could it be because the State has no moral right to decide that two men can be married? Could it also be because even the State does not recognise this situation as a marriage - hence the term, 'civil partnership'?] The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow [the claimants] to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation and that this is direct discrimination.’
Mr Preddy said: ‘The judge has confirmed what we already know – that in these circumstances our civil partnership has the same status in law as a marriage between a man and a woman, and that, regardless of each person’s religious beliefs, no one is above the law.’ Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: ‘The court has resisted the pernicious claim that exercising conscience, be it Christian or any other kind, is a carte blanche to defy the law.’ But Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘This ruling is further evidence that equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield. Christians are being sidelined.’
So, you got that? When Christians complain that civil partnerships are immoral because they create something that looks rather like gay marriage, they are told, "No, they're civil partnerships. They're not the same as marriage!" When Christians are taken to court they are told, "There is no difference between civil partnerships and marriage." Now it all makes sense!