Of course I’m happy with the ruling that hotel owners cannot discriminate against gay guests. Since the case got itself all over the newspapers, I’m sure you have caught up with it. A gay couple in a Civil Partnership could only stay in The Chymorvah if in a twin-bedded room.
Actually my youngest son and his girl-friend would have found themselves in twin beds too. The hotel owners only let married couples have a double bed. The hotel owners were guilty of discrimination because they failed to recognise that Civil Partnership confers the same legal status as marriage. Mistaken as I feel they were in that, I feel they were even more mistaken in not recognising the limits of proper responsibility
Bluntly, I do not think we are bound to police the morals of others. Within limits.
The first limit is this: I think we do have a responsibility to prevent the abuse of one human by another. I thin hotel owners do have a responsibility to prevent the sexual abuse, or the violent abuse, of a child or of what is known in care shorthand as ‘a vulnerable adult’, that is, somebody who from mental or physical infirmity is unable to give real and informed consent to what is going on. This abuse would also include taking advantage of a sleeping or absent fellow hotel guest by stealing from them.
I also think we have a right to be allowed to express in polite and non-confrontational terms what our own moral code is. I think, for instance, that I have a right to tell others that I never buy battery-farmed eggs because I think keeping chicken in small cages is cruel. I do not think that in the real world we can expect we will never hear criticism of our own conduct. I think it would be more politic in a hotel simply to say: ‘all the eggs I serve are free range’, but let us admit that even in doing this I am making a moral statement. If, let us say, Richard Dawkins turned up as a guest at this imaginary hotel, I would not myself think it good sense to tell him I was a Christian, but I think I should have the right to do it. I guess I therefore have (reluctantly) to concede that Mr and Mrs Bull, who own the hotel in question, had a right to inform guests that they thought gay sex was wrong.
There, it seems to me (and if you think otherwise, it might make a good discussion) there my responsibility stops. Christians have a right to follow their own moral codes (plural, mine in no way resembles the Bull’s) but none of us are enjoined to make sure other people follow it too.
Not only I am not obliged to enforce my moral code on others. Indeed, I am obliged not to enforce it. It appears that God, too, takes this approach. He offers advice (and how irritating is it that ‘Don’t worry’ appears high up the list) but he leaves it up to us. If we want to worry, the most he will do is set things up so as to point out, gently, the error of our ways. Even if he could, one cannot imagine him dragging himself through a law court to prove that he had a right to discriminate against people who worry.