The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has given a broad welcome to Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposal that adoption agencies currently operating under restrictions imposed by Roman Catholic bishops should be given 21 months to find a way of continuing to serve children without discriminating against lesbian and gay couples.
In a statement issued today, LGCM says that "the appointment of a panel to oversee this work is a welcome development" and stresses that the needs of chidren and families, especially the vulnerable, are paramount.
Catholic bishops wanted to be allowed to continue to refuse consideration to same-sex couples and sought an exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) being laid before Parliament in April 2007.
While this will not be allowed, "everyone is now focused on preserving the first class skills base these agencies have established through their highly trained staff", the campaigning group noted.
Commenting on the decisions, LGCM‚Äôs Director of Communications, the Rev Martin Reynolds, said: ‚ÄúThis has been a difficult matter for all concerned and the outcome must now be secured in the children‚Äôs best interests.‚Äù
He continued: ‚ÄúThe debate on how faith communities can provide state funded services for our community without discrimination remains a serious issue. The Christian think-tank Ekklesia raised this matter in a broader sense some time ago and their work deserves careful study.‚Äù
Declared Reynolds: ‚ÄúIt cannot be that the public service ethos of faith communities is principally or even significantly defined by those they exclude from the service they provide. An adoption society is there to serve its users and these are the children it places, all would be outraged if an agency declined to place a child on the grounds of its ethnicity or sexuality.‚Äù
He added: ‚ÄúWhile many in this debate have claimed the best interests of the children are in their mind, some have placed their own issues before the supreme rights of these children. It is clear to us that bishops both Anglican and Catholic must now posture and bluster less and focus on the future of the children and the debate we need within our society. While some have made a reasonably measured response ‚Äì others like the [Anglican] Bishop of Durham have not been so careful.‚Äù