Let’s say you and your attractive same-sex partner (because why wouldn’t your partner be attractive) are touring around Great Britain. You find this quaint Bed & Breakfast to stay at, and you’re told that you are not allowed to rent a room their, because your relationship (and the fact you would share a bed) is an “affront” to the faith of the owners. What do you do?
Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy sued. And now they have won, and Peter and Hazelmary Bull had to pay them each £1,800 pounds.
This is an important victory, because we have similar issues at home, and I’m sure right-wing groups are seething over this decision.
But at the root of this “issue” is the question of whether a person’s religious beliefs are valid reasons to practice discrimination.
Some people will put forth ideas about privacy, that if you own your own business, you can decide who has access to it. This is true. I argued this point last year with my complaint that the Marriott hotel gave NARTH safe haven to spread their dangerous ideas. While it frustrates me that Marriott doesn’t exercise its right to not welcome groups like NARTH, I at least appreciate the equal opportunity aspect of it.
But there’s a difference between individuals who are members of NARTH and NARTH itself. If Marriott didn’t let members of NARTH stay in its rooms, that would bother me. It’s hosting the conference that I had a problem with, because the conference is a platform for a viewpoint contrary to the support for LGBT issues that Marriott has prided itself on publicly.
So as for the Bulls, I have no sympathy for them. They were openly discriminating.
If a bar didn’t serve a drink to a woman, or a restaurant didn’t let a black couple eat there, or Jewish people were refused service at a department store, we wouldn’t flinch at calling that discrimination. But not allowing a bed for a gay couple? That’s still up for grabs for a significant portion of society.
And that’s galling. It wouldn’t be true if so many of the false memes about LGB people (particularly that sexual orientation is a choice and can be changed) were not so persistent. None of the beliefs about gays, lesbians, and bisexuals reflect the reality of our existence, and yet we still live in a society guided by those constructs. We will not achieve equality until they are deconstructed.
So this discussion is coming. It’s only going to escalate more and more. At the end of the day, we’ll be arguing what gets priority: freedom from discrimination or privilege of religious belief.
I’d suggest you start figuring out where you stand.