Civil Partnership: Catholics 1 Police 0
But a brave Roman Catholic couple who objected to their marriage being listed alongside ‘civil partnership’ have won the first round in an employment tribunal action against the Strathclyde Police Force.
Lucille and Frank McQuade (with whom, judging by their picture, you would not want to mess) have 26 years of faithful marriage behind them, and are claiming that Strathclyde Police Force is guilty of sex discrimination and religious discrimination after altering its civilian employee records to change their status from ‘married’ to ‘married/civil partnership’, as though there were some equivalence. They deem it to be an unacceptable change to their ‘true legal and religious status’ because, as Mrs McQuade states, ‘The concept of homosexuality is not compatible with our faith’.
Quite so, Mrs McQuade, quite so. You are simply obeying Scripture and the traditional teachings of the Church; an orthodoxy which His Holiness has even very recently reiterated.
Cranmer is not inclined to revisit the complexities of the concept of ‘concept’, so he is relieved that Mrs McQuade states rather more straightforwardly: ‘We find it offensive that people don't know if we are married or civil partners."
But Strathclyde Police are bound by sexual orientation ‘guidance’ (courtesy of ACAS), which stated that ‘outing’ an individual's sexual orientation against their wishes or without their clear permission was inappropriate and a breach of privacy. In order to avoid this undesired ‘outing’, the two categories are considered synonymous because ‘in most situations they were treated the same, so there was no need to identify them separately’.
Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Media Office, said: "When civil partnerships were introduced, politicians stressed they were not the same as marriage. It is absurd that a public body cannot list these separately." But Tony Grew, the editor of the Pink News, a campaigning newspaper for homosexuals, said: "Many people in the police, and the vast majority of people they serve, are proud of the fact that their gay and lesbian colleagues no longer have to hide in the shadows. It seems this couple are not among them. They are entitled to their view, but in 2008 it looks like the sad relic of a prejudice that has no place in modern Scotland."
The distinction between marriage and civil partnership is becoming semantic. Whilst Parliament advocated equality on matters including pension provision and inheritance, it was never intended that official forms would be amended to re-classify marriage as a status equivalent to civil partnership.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien observed at the time: "The Scottish people must be aware that we are indulging in an experiment which will always have huge social consequences. The Catholic Church teaches clearly that we, as individuals and a society, harm ourselves when we do not protect and promote the female-male lifelong relationship that we know as marriage."
The Christian Institute unequivocally terms ‘civil partnership’ a ‘counterfeit marriage’, the ultimate aim of which is to ‘completely equate homosexual relationships with marriage’. In the case of Strathclyde Police they appear to have been prophetic. The Institute further observes:
‘UK gay rights groups are fully aware of the significance of civil partnerships in achieving legal same-sex marriage. The Government commented on its consultation: “it was clear that many of those who supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme would prefer that marriage was made available to same-sex couples.”
Civil partnerships equate homosexual relationships with marriage in law, though not in name. The Government’s Women and Equality Unit wants all official documentation asking for a person’s ‘marital status’ to be altered to read ‘civil status’. This would include both marriage and civil partnerships.’
All that Strathclyde Police needs to do is to amend ‘Married/Civil Partnership’ to ‘Civil Status’, leaving the McQuades to be free to insert ‘Married’.
But that still leaves the problem of those in a ‘civil partnership’ who do not wish to be ‘outed’.
Doubtless this dilemma is occupying Sir Humphrey inordinately and disproportionately.