No blanket exemption
Adoption was not discussed at this morning's Cabinet. The Domestic Affairs committee of the Cabinet has not even fixed a date for its final meeting on the issue. Nevertheless, it is now clear that there will be no blanket exemption from the new Equality Act for the Catholic Church. Tony Blair's ministers would not accept one.
This week they have lined up one by one to say so publicly. The charge was led by the Lord Chancellor - the man in charge of the law. Since then, three ministers have gone public. Peter Hain, Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman. Can you spot the connection between them? All are running for deputy leader. They are, as a result, more concerned with how they're seen publicly than how they're viewed by the current leader of their party.
No-one looks over their shoulder anymore in fear at what Downing Street might say or do.
Tony Blair insists that he has never wanted an exemption for the church. He was - his aides say - merely trying to find "a way through" the practical problems and to tread carefully around religious sensitivities. He, and communities secretary Ruth Kelly, are said to have only wanted a temporary exemption or a transition period to ensure that no adoption agencies shut up shop the day after the Equality Act comes into force.
That is not, however, the impression that they've given to Cabinet colleagues and gay rights campaigners. Hence, the - still unresolved - row.
Many ministers want to "face down" the Catholic church. They believe either that they are bluffing or that the cases they deal with - around 4% of the total - will quickly be taken up by other agencies. Ruth Kelly points out that the Catholic agencies deal with 33% of the difficult cases and still help the thousands of children they have placed in the past. There's been much talk of people on either side resigning. My guess is that it will not come to that and some form of transition arrangements will be agreed.
This is a serious debate about competing rights and strongly held convictions. I am struck by the level of vilification being meted out to those with strongly held religious views. It is stated, as if fact, that Tony Blair is acting under orders from his Catholic wife who's acting under orders from the Archbishop who's acting under orders, presumably, from the Pope.
No-one who has met Cherie Blair would believe that a quick call from a bishop would have her quaking. Ruth Kelly is accused of putting her religion before her principles. One Catholic MP who defended her publicly has since received hate mail.
Gay public figures have, of course, experienced vilification for many years and often from religious people. Allow me to delicately suggest, however, that the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination.