Sunday, January 28, 2007

What is Tolerance

A constituent sought my opinion last week on a matter of extreme importance to him. Did I support the proposal to force Roman Catholic adoption agencies to accept that they had to accept same sex civil partnerships as prospective foster parents. I couldn't answer. I have thought a lot about this question. It is a very difficult question to answer.

I think of myself as a 'libertarian' - but even resort to first principles does not give me the answer. If two gay people want to form a civil partnership - why not? If a 'married' gay couple want to adopt - why not? But then, if a Catholic adoption agency cannot accept that it must place a child in its care with a gay couple because of deeply held religious beliefs - why not again? Are we facing State intolerance or religious intolerance? Does the State have the power to pass laws that take no account of conscience. Would the British State make the same demands of a Muslim-run adoption agency? So many questions to be answered before I can answer one constituent's query.

In my youth I was not tolerant of homosexuality. But I have changed my opinion and today, I consider same sex relationships to be wholly acceptable - and generally, should not be discriminated against. I use the word 'generally' because, after much soul searching, I come down on the side of the Catholic Church. I had been leaning towards this answer before reading William Rees-Mogg in today's Mail on Sunday. I wonder whether I will still hold the same opinion in 5 years time?

24 hours later - And now I read reports that my leader, David Cameron has come out against the Catholic Church, while David Davis is reported to be taking the same line as I am. I hope this does not become a 'whipped' issue.


Anonymous said...

What is conscience? Is it a state of unconscious mind that has been only influenced by a certain set of exposure, or way of thinking? By stating that your views on gay people has changed, has time or ideals influenced your conscience?

Since gay people are in a minority, most people who seem to express an opinion on this have no direct experience of single sex parenting, thus I question the influences in respect of 'conscience'.

When it comes to adoption, the child's welfare is paramount and always remains at the heart of the issue. Is it preferable for a Catholic agency (and argument has stated they handle the most difficult adoptions), to leave a child in institution care over and above a loving home?

Incidentally, I was brought up C in W, live in Montgomeryshire. I cannot agree with the church's stance on this. Its nothing more than veiled homophobia.

Glyn Davies AM said...

I have changed my opinion on several issues since I was a young man - as a result of greater understanding, greater knowledge or the force of other's argument.

I just do not believe that the secular State should force the Catholic Church to sacrifice deeply held beliefs on this issue - and of course it won't. What will happen is that the adoption agencies will close down (after a legal fight in Scotland it seems) - and the State will have to step in. Even if one accepts that "the welfare of the children is paramount", I cannot see that this is going to do other than end the excellent public servica provided by the Catholic Church

Roland said...

Mr. Davies,

I believe your observations about this issue are right on the mark. Though I myself do not approve the morality of the gay community, who am I to tell them how to act? Regardless, the community should be treated with the same respect as any other minority. In a similar way, I believe the State has no right to tell the Catholic Church to violate its own principles. Please continue to pen your rational opinions.