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Turned away gay B&B couple: we'll decide on court within week
THE gay couple who were turned away from a Cookham Bed and Breakfast say they will decide whether to take the owners to court within a week.
Michael Black, 62, and John Morgan, 56, have also called for Tory leader David Cameron to sack his shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling.
He was secretly taped by the Observer newspaper suggesting he backed the stance of Christians who run B&Bs to turning away guests.
He is quoted as saying: “I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home."
However, he said hotels should not have the right to exclude gay couples.
The Observer report has reignited the debate about gay equality laws.
Christian couple Mike and Susanne Wilkinson, who run the Swiss B & B in Terry's Lane first found themselves at the centre of the media storm in March.
They said allowing Mr Morgan, a Lib Dem councillor, and Mr Black, to share a bed went against their beliefs, stating they obey 'God's laws'.
Cambridgeshire resident Mr Black, a Lib Dem supporter, said: “It's bizarre, Mr Grayling appears to be proposing is that people should be free to break the law in accordance with their convictions on religious grounds but he says it's not necessary to change the law which is contradictory in itself.
“That's very worrying in a potential home secretary who would be responsible for law in this country.
“I'm surprised that as far as I know there hasn't been any response from David Cameron.
“It should be a case of David Cameron standing up and saying by sacking him that sort of attitude is not acceptable in the Conservative party.
“You can brush it under the carpet but that doesn't make the point that David Cameron and the Conservatives would be projecting the view that religious beliefs put anybody above the law.”
He added they were close to deciding on civil court action against the Wilkinsons: “We are seeing a mate tomorrow who is a barrister who is going to give us advice and we'll make a decision fairly soon hopefully in the next week.”
But Mr Wilkinson, 55, said he and his wife are happy to stand up for their beliefs in court.
“We believe we have a robust argument and hope the judge will agree,” he said.
He said Mr Grayling's taped comments have sparked further interest in their stance – and even more messages.
He said: “We were very pleased with what he (Mr Grayling) has to say, we believe that this is a very sensible position to take.
“He feels that within a private guest house we should have the option of who we take as guests.
“Personally I would like this to become a matter of debate leading up to the election.
“We continue to get supportive emails from all and sundry including people of faith, not of faith and gay people.
“Also we have had a ton more abuse but on balance we are pleased with the support we have been receiving.”
The couple received threats of violence from strangers, including to burn their house down after the initial story broke.
Mr Black and Mr Morgan have fiercely condemned the threats.
Mr Wilkinson said the calls for Mr Grayling to be sacked were “pretty irrational” considering he had voted in favour of gay equality legislation.
He said the idea that one gay rights outweighed religious convictions was a “democratic imbalance” caused by a “powerful” minority which “thinks it can trample over groups with equally strong views – which is sadly wrong.”
Mr Grayling has since released a statement denying he opposed gay rights and saying he would not be pressing for a change in the law, but felt it was important to respect the sensitivities of faith groups.
Conservative head office would not comment beyond the statement as to Mr Grayling's future.
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