Waiting for the Real Test Case

Some brief thoughts on the B&B issue (copied and adapted from a comment I made earlier this morning).

In both cases so far (Bulls and Wilkinsons) one of the key criticisms made by the justices were the inconsistency of the implementation of the moral code of the establishment. That seems to suggest that if an establishment *clearly* markets itself as Christian and makes sure that every booking is referred to this and the “moral code”, there can be no complaint if those who book turn up and object to the moral code.

Of course, that wouldn’t get round the clear legal guidance that civil partnerships need to be treated the same as marriages, but it would permit an establishment to refuse a bed to a gay couple who were not in a civil partnership IF and ONLY IF they had made this issue apparent at the point of booking AND that they applied an equal policy to unmarried heterosexual couples.

None of this though gets round the clear ruling that any form of hotel / guest house CANNOT refuse a bed to a couple who are in a civil partnership if at the same time if offers a double bed to a married couple. To be fair though, that position has never actually been tested in court, because none of the cases so far have actually been consistent in their position, explicitly making sure every guest was aware of their position before booking. If such an establishment were to be taken to court (clearly indicating to every booking before payment that they only let rooms to marriage couples because of religious convictions) then I think that a fair and reasonable judge might have to reconsider the previous rulings and weigh up whether the B&B owner’s freedom to manifest and practice one’s faith was now being compromised.
However, I doubt we’ll ever find a B&B with such consistency to test the law and the issue around rights properly. Instead we’ll have more of these examples of poor communication of moral stances dressed up as discrimination going through the courts.

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