The witch-hunt against people who dare to disagree with gay marriage is well underway, even though the legislation has yet to clear parliament. Put aside for a moment whether you agree or disagree with gay marriage, surely no sensible person wants this sort of 'marriage McCarthyism' in an open democratic society. There is a new case which is deeply sinister. It just came to light this week in the House of Lords.
It starts off predictably enough. A teacher was asked to give a lesson telling children that disagreeing with gay marriage is de-facto homophobic. That sort of knee-jerk labelling is sadly common-place, and I can hardly bring myself to point out the obvious, but I will: labelling children who may come from traditional homes as 'homophobes' is itself prejudiced, intolerant and judgmental. But we haven't got to the really sinister part of this case yet.
The teacher said she would not deliver this hackneyed, one-sided, unfair presentation (my words, not hers) to children. Good for her. She had a quiet word with a more senior teacher, who appeared to understand the problem and sensibly allowed her to do something else. A colleague complained to the head teacher, but the head teacher said there was no case to answer.
But another colleague, who is also a union rep, wanted to make something of it and demanded a full investigation. Here's where things move rapidly into more sinister territory. The union rep has discovered (ah-haaaa!) that the teacher is a member of - wait for it - a church. I guess the church has weird and dangerous beliefs, like the idea that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. So the rep demanded that the school should investigate her links with the church, and what impact it may have on her duties as a teacher. Yes, Britain is now a country where teachers are being placed under suspicion because of their membership of... a church. The teacher is now under investigation, and the outcome is not yet known.
Her case is the most sinister so far, but it's not the only one. Two teachers wrote to a committee of MPs to tell of their separate cases. But they were so frightened about a backlash that they asked a lawyer keep them anonymous while setting out their cases. 'Mrs A' works in a school in a London borough. She began reading a book called And Tango Makes Three to her primary school class. When she realised the book was advocating gay marriage, she stopped reading it. She is a Christian and she told the class that there are different views about that issue in society. But the school's head teacher said Mrs A had broken the law, and she would not be allowed to have her own class in the new school year.
Another teacher, referred to as 'Mr X' in the evidence given to MPs, teaches in a secondary school in Scotland. He was prepared to teach about marriage and sexuality in a balanced and objective way, but could not in all conscience say gay marriage was the same as straight marriage. But the head of department was angered by Mr X's stance, and the head teacher said Mr X must toe the line and keep his views to himself. Mr X said this contributed to "a breakdown and being signed off work for several months with stress". No wonder a poll of teachers in February revealed that most (56%) believe a teacher would damage their career if they voice support for traditional marriage.
Adrian Smith was a housing manager at Trafford Housing Trust. He used his personal, private Facebook account to post a link to a BBC News article about gay weddings in churches, adding the comment "an equality too far". He did so outside of work time using his own computer. His Facebook page was not visible to the general public. Yet he was demoted and lost 40% of his pay. His employer, it turned out, was worried about losing a gay rights charter award. After a two-year legal fight costing £30,000 he won a case for breach of contract, but never got his job back.
Rev Brian Ross lost his un-paid position as a chaplain to Strathclyde Police because he wrote in defence of traditional marriage on his personal blog. Strathclyde defended their decision to kick him out by saying, in effect, they will remove anyone who publicly backs traditional marriage. Here's what they said in their own words:
Whilst the Force wholly respects the Rev Ross' and, indeed any employees' personally held political and religious beliefs, such views cannot be expressed publicly if representing the Force, as it is by law an a-political organisation with firmly embedded policies which embrace diversity and equality.
In other words, keep your beliefs inside your head and never ever speak of them. It's the 'firmly embedded; obsession with equality and diversity which is so chilling. Like all obsessions, it blinds them to reality and they honestly can't see the injustice they've meted out. It's this obsession that makes the marriage McCarthyism so likely, and it's why we are already at the stage where a teacher is being investigated for attending a church.