Sure, there is little chance this will pass. But that is not the point. The point is what I call "creeping incrementalism".
If this doesn’t have a chance of passing and becoming law now, it will have the effect of bringing some people on board with the vision behind the proposal. Over time, after several attempts, the likelihood of it passing is greatly increased.
Single-minded ideologues endowed with very few gifts of mental flexibility but ample determination are often the people who get things done.
From The Telegraph…
Catholic ban on women priests ‘illegal under Harriet Harman equality bill’
The Roman Catholic ban on women entering the priesthood will become illegal under Harriet Harman’s controversial Equality Bill, according to Christian charity, CARE.
By Patrick Hennessy, Political editor
Published: 8:00AM GMT 10 Jan 2010
A new report by the leading charity – backed by a legal opinion from a leading QC – says the Bill will make it impossible for all churches and faith-based charities to insist that their senior staff lead private lives in accordance with their religious beliefs.
CARE said that, under the Bill, which will be considered by the House of Lords on Monday, it would be illegal for a Christian charity to sack a senior manager for adultery or living an openly gay lifestyle.
The same rules would, it added, apply to Muslim and Jewish churches and charities. [And if this actually gets passed, which group will actually be prosecuted?]
However, the biggest potential showdown is likely to be between the government and Britain’s 4.3 million Catholics over the church’s tradition of an all-male, celibate priesthood.
Previous legislation in 2007, also backed by Ms Harman, [Sounds like an obsession.] the Commons Leader and equality minister, forced the closure of two Catholic adoption agencies for refusing to comply with new laws requiring them to place children with gay couples. [And everyone won that one, right? That really helped children, didn't it!]
CARE’s report – A Little Bit Against Discrimination? – warns that the proposals contained in the Bill are a serious threat to religious liberty in Britain.
John Bowers QC said in a legal opinion for CARE that the Bill could make it unlawful for a church to require a priest or minister to be male, celibate and unmarried, or not in a civil partnership. [A 21st c. gloss on a 16th c. approach to the problem of living, breathing, believing Catholics.]
When the Bill, which aims to wrap up all existing equality legislation in one piece of law, was debated in the Commons, ministers MPs tabled more than 100 amendments to it – but ministers imposed a "guillotine" on the Bill and prevented most of them being discussed. [Interesting image to introduce in this context.]
The report’s author, Dr Daniel Boucher, said: ”The Equality Bill is a direct assault on the freedom of all faith-based organisations, from churches to charities. This Bill will make it unlawful for those organisations to employ people who are committed to a particular set of religious beliefs.
"This Bill in its current form is a further blow to the faith-based voluntary sector and will leave many people unable to access services they always have. [Is this an attempt to "nationalize" what volunteers do?]
"This legislation must be revised to recognise our plural society. It must recognise that there are many people in our country who have deeply held religious views and convictions, rather than trying to impose some modern day Stalinistic version of society where there is only ever one view that is right, the Government’s."
Overall, the Bill is designed to deliver greater equality between people of different gender, race, religion and class.
However, it has attracted criticism, particularly from businesses. It paves the way for ‘gender pay audits‘ in large companies, obliging employers to disclose the average hourly pay they award male and female workers.
The planned legislation would also allow employers to give preference to female or non-white job applicants over equally qualified white men. [Reverse discrimination?]
Public bodies would have a legal duty to narrow the gap between the rich and poor in the provision of services. For example, local authorities would be expected to do more to help children from poorer backgrounds. [So... nothing is based in any way on merit, work, performance.]
If passed, the Bill could also oblige public sector bodies to consider the "gender balance" among employees of companies bidding for all government contracts.