Ruth Kelly in Queer Street

It has now become apparent that the only thing which can unite Christian and Mohammedan is an animus to the Labour party.

Yesterday saw a protest of more than 1,000 outside the Palace of Westminster.

I will not patronise the member and readerships by restating the evils of what the government is doing. Nor will I tire them with a diatribe about freedom of conscience and worship. I believe my opinion on the matter it is best summed up in the club’s preamble.

What is now clear is that we are on a course for collision. The government is playing chicken with the Church, and right-minded folk generally, and banking that they will blink first.

If the government goes through with its proposals to make it illegal to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation, the Church has the “nuclear” option of closing all Catholic adoption agencies, schools, church halls and retreat centers. This would be calamitous and unprecedented, not to mention leaving the government with a significant mess to clear up.

I can scarcely conceive of this happening but on the other hand, I fail to see how the Church could get round a law obliging them to educate children on the goodness of chap-on-chap action, placing defenseless orphans in the arms of perverts and hosting Sapphic shin-digs in Vaughan House.

What is crucial in this case is that the minister in question is Ms. Kelly. Much has been made of her supposed Opus Dei connection and her own party seem to delight in imagining her as being just a few Ave’s shy of trying to assassinate the Queen.

Before a row erupted over her son’s schooling, Ms. Kelly was being assailed from all sides for her silence on the new laws and the backlash to them.

As the Labour party continues to demand a condemnation of the “homophobia” of the protesters, more and more people are calling for Ms. Kelly to resign in protest. Indeed no fewer than four people have suggested this to me in the past week.

She, quite rightly, has refused to be drawn, citing a “huge volume of feedback from the consultation” (see Mulier Fortis for the definition of consultation). It is my opinion that she is desperately looking for a compromise.

I think she is a woman of faith, or the Faith should I say, and wants to see needed changes made as much as anyone.

Should she publicly side with the protesters, as so many seem to be demanding, her cabinet position would be untenable and her de-selection by the party a forgone conclusion. While she might make a very glorious martyr for a news-cycle or two, the actual impact would be to strengthen Government resolve and remove the only person of conscience in a position of influence.

We need Catholics in politics. More to the point we need good Catholics in politics. Here, in one of the most crucial social debates of the last decade and more, we have a Catholic minister in the key position. Calling for her resignation is not only short sighted it is counter productive.

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