Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy had booked the room in September of 2008, but were prevented from using it by the B&B’s owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull.
A Christian couple, the Bulls defence was that their
double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage.
However Judge Rutherford said that, in the past fifty years, social attitudes in Britain had changed and it was inevitable that laws would "cut across" some people's beliefs.
Social attitudes notwithstanding, civil partnership is supposed to be legally equivalent to marriage, which makes the Bull’s actions clearly discriminatory. Although they did not believe "unmarried couples" should share a room the Bulls were in fact failing to recognise the status of Hall and Preddy’s civil partnership.
Interestingly we have no evidence that the Bulls were in the habit of rejecting unmarried heterosexual couples, which is a shame because if they weren’t it would be very telling.
The Judge has given leave for appeal so this story may run for a bit yet, but predictably there are some Christians who are missing the point of this very sound judgement. This from Mike Judge of the Christian Institute
Peter and Hazelmary were sued with the full backing of the government-funded Equality Commission. Christians are being sidelined.Sidelined? Really? If he means they are being prevented from ignoring anti-discrimination law just because it contradicts their homophobic beliefs then yes, let’s have them sidelined. There are laws in this country which violate my principles too, that doesn’t mean I can escape justice if I am caught breaking them, and neither should it.