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Christian B&B Was Right Not to Give a Gay Couple a Double Bed

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An 11-year-old atheist hit the headlines last week because he wanted to join the scouts but didn't want to pledge to do his duty to God. I'm a Christian, so I don't share this boy's lack of belief in God. But I do believe people should, if you'll pardon the expression, practice what they preach. The boy is trying to be consistent.

For the same reason, I support the Scouts for not giving way. The Scout Association has had a religious ethos for 105 years and faith remains a core tenet of the movement. If you believe something is important, stick up for it. Good on 'em.

That's why I also back Susanne Wilkinson, the Christian who runs a B&B from her family home in Berkshire. She believes in the importance of marriage and so she doesn't want to give double beds to unmarried couples. She's trying to be true to her beliefs.

But last week a judge ruled that her policy was unlawful. The judge said it had discriminated against a gay couple, Michael Black and John Morgan. The judge accepted that Mrs Wilkinson's beliefs were genuine (i.e. not just a convenient excuse) and that she had also applied the policy to unmarried straight couples.

The judge, however, ruled against Mrs Wilkinson because the law has been written so rigidly in favour of gay rights. She was ordered to pay £3,600 in damages to Mr Black and Mr Morgan for injury to their feelings.

Mrs Wilkinson was just trying to be true to her deeply held beliefs. She was trying to be consistent. As she herself says, Christianity isn't just for church on a Sunday, it's for every area of life everyday.

Yes, Mrs Wilkinson opened her home to the public as a B&B. Yes, she wasn't forced to do it. But that doesn't mean she must park her beliefs, and it doesn't mean the house ceases to be her family home. This isn't some faceless mega-chain of hotels. She lives there with her husband and children. Surely, there should be a bit more flexibility so that people can live according to their own values under their own roof?

The fact is, we live in a society where different people have different beliefs about all sorts of things, including sexual ethics. All of us have an opinion about what's right and wrong when it comes to sexual behaviour. We all draw the line somewhere.

But the law is increasingly taking sides in this debate, and those who hold to a traditional belief about marriage are on the receiving end of the law's inflexibility. And there is a real danger that liberal dogma is being imposed on people who hold to more traditional values.

Just consider the ridiculous case of Adrian Smith, the housing manager who was demoted by his bosses at Trafford Housing Trust losing 40 per cent of his salary just because he said on his private Facebook page that gay weddings in churches were "an equality too far".

Mr Smith is trying to recover his lost earnings and his case was heard by the High Court in Manchester last week (it was due to be heard in the County Court, but it got an upgrade on the day of the hearing). The judge's ruling is expected in the next few weeks.

Clearly, it is time for an honest debate - a debate about civil liberty for people who go against the new liberal orthodoxy. Equality has begun to intrude on other people's human rights, and it is high time there was a bit more balance.