Adopting a compromise
The Europe minister Geoff Hoon represented the government tonight on BBC Question Time and outlined a possible "compromise" in their very public argument with the Catholic Church over gay adoption. Geoff Hoon said he thought the Catholic Church should not be granted an exemption to the new equality laws. But -- and this is the possible compromise -- he acknowledged that not everyone who works for a Catholic adoption agency is a Catholic. If there are non-Catholics working within a Catholic adoption agency, he said, and if these non-Catholics are prepared to handle cases involving gay couples, why can't the Catholic agency permit them to do so? This way Catholic workers would not be required to act against their conscience in assisting gay couples to adopt children, while the equality laws would still be upheld.
This is quite a clever proposal in its own way, since it mirrors the current situation in the Health Service in England whereby doctors and nurses with a conscience-based objection to abortion are permitted to stand aside from those procedures. Ironically, you will recall that the archibishops of York and Canterbury, in their letter to the government, appealed to this same NHS example to make a case for a Catholic opt-out.