The case of PJS is a matter of public, not prurient, interest

Imagine dear reader, what would happen were someone to discover that I, a Catholic with a moderately high profile, someone who advocates the beauty and sanctity of the Christian meaning of marriage, was actually in a consensually open relationship? What if a third party with whom I’d had sex, while ostensibly in a committed relationship, wanted to sell their story to the tabloid press?

Like the vast majority of the British public, I wouldn’t have the funds to pursue any sort of legal action or injuction to protect my family’s privacy and would have to suck up the embarassment, but just say I did manage to get to court. Would a sympathetic judge rule that the privacy of my five children is paramount and that despite it being accepted that I would have sexual encounters from time to time, the image which I portray to the public of my husband and myself of being in a committed relationship, is essentially correct?

Would they buffalo? There would be none of this “commitment does not entail monogamy” guff, they would rightly rule that there is a public interest, given that I have participated in public debate on the nature of marriage. If I were to be found to be in a clandestine open relationship, or to have had extra-marital affairs, then my hypocrisy ought to be exposed. If I am worried about the effect on my children, then perhaps I ought not to have engaged in sexual activities outside of a relationship while at the same time as attempting to maintain a certain public image and accepting media invitations while promoting the good of marriage.

So why is the case of PJS any different? Because my friends, if this blogger is correct then he is a rich and famous celebrity, who just happens to be in a same-sex relationship. This is important because the conduct of these individuals, cuts straight to the core of the debate about marriage, and they were held up as an exemplary model of gay families. If these were private individuals thrust into the temporary spotlight, through no fault of their own, then arguably there would be a much better case for allowing their privacy.

But this is not the case with PJS and his partner. They have repeatedly put themselves into the media, including in 2014, inviting the whole world to their  wedding  via Instagram, posting intimate photos of the event, together with the hashtag ‘share the love’, with no disclaimer that their love was not monogamous. Prior to that they had been in a civil partnership since 2005.

I don’t give two hoots about the specifics of what PJS got up to, apart from noting that it all appears rather squalid. When the entire issue of same-sex marriage was debated in Parliament it was assumed that gay marriages would be conducted under the same auspices as heterosexual marriage and have the same level of commitment. As it turned out, the legislation was so tricky to enact, gay men and women actually enter into a different version of marriage to that of straight couples. Fidelity is not a legal requirement – gay men and women are unable to use adultery as grounds for divorce. 

Perhaps this is why the High Court has ruled that their infidelity is of little consequence to the overall image of commitment and loyalty which they attempt to cultivate amongst the public? This is a relationship which has acquired two children using the means of surrogacy. We don’t know whether or not their two sons are still maintaining contact with their mother, but what if the couple do split up as has been suggested by some outlets? The case of poor Rocco Ritchie demonstrates how difficult life is for children of divorced celebrity couples? What stability will they have, split between two warring male households, one of which is headed by a man soon to hit his seventies?

It’s not clear whether or not PJS and his celebrity partner were in an open relationship when they acquired their first son via surrogacy in 2010, but the alleged infidelity took place in 2011, with the next son coming along in 2013. Neither of the boys are listed as having a mother on their birth certificate. There is most definitely a public interest in debating whether or not a couple in an open relationship should be able to acquire children through surrogacy, and obliterate the name of the mother, who is deemed an irrelevance. In the case of two gay males in an open relationship, is two people who love them the basis of all child welfare, as is so often claimed? Is ‘love’ really all that matters? Are open relationships, whether gay or straight, the best environment in which to bring up children?

This is a couple who are often cited as being a wonderful example of surrogacy and gay parenting, and yet the public are not permitted to know that their relationship is not what one might reasonably expect. There is an implicit acknowledgement and understanding that married couples will be faithful to each other, a sacrifice commonly accepted by the public, as being in the best interests of the children. Open marriages no matter, who they are carried out by, contradict this principle.

What it means to be married, is of crucial importance to society as is the welfare of children. And yet in their wisdom, the High Court judges have decided, that we, the plebiscite are not allowed to know, that the relationship is not all that we might reasonably assume – that this couple have not, in fact, chosen to forsake all others. The judgement says “to publish will not advance the public debate or provide support for any of the competing opinions which are in circulation.” In other words, lets silence this debate before it’s even started, or identified what it’s all about because we don’t like what other people may have to say and furthermore, we don’t think opinions contrary to ours have any validity.

This couple chose to use their relationship and their profile to attempt to alter public policy. As a gay male friend of mine noted, this injunction feels like a gag to protect appalling social policy and dreadful decisions from public scrutiny.

We all have a right to a private life. But if you make your private life part of the public debate on marriage, hold up your relationship and family as being one which should be emulated and affect public policy, then if your relationship turns out to be founded on a questionable premise, the the rest of us do have a right to know, especially when the new definition of marriage affects not only our own marriages, but impacts upon religious freedom, education policies and is lauded as being a British value, with anyone who disagrees being branded a potential extremist threat.

It blows my mind that the judges have arbitrarily ruled that fidelity or monogamy can no longer be safely assumed to be an essential part of any committed relationship and that no-one is allowed to discuss the implications of this couple and their effect on public policy and debate, on pain of jail. What does it say about free speech in our society when a rich and famous member of the Establishment is able to use the state to force a person to stay silent about their sexual encounter with you, on pain of imprisonment? What is happening when the Speaker of the House of Commons is able to arbitrarily restrict Parliamentary Privilege and when Joe Public risk being put into jail if they dare to link to and discuss the wider implications of information easily available in another part of the United Kingdom.

16 thoughts on “The case of PJS is a matter of public, not prurient, interest

  1. Typical mudslinging from a cow like yourself Caroline on behalf of an imaginary God.

    You’re like Helen Lovejoy but more of a cunt.

    1. This well is poisoned.He will not be redeemed until he knows he seeks redemption. he can do it without the God he probably despises. Perhaps he’s drunk., His profane comment is obviously of a tone that is regrettable. We can hope, and some will pray,that he finds redemption. If he thinks his comment is symbiotic of the correct road to inner peace and acceptance, he’s mistaken. He deplores “mud-slinging” and the proceeds immediately to the practise himself. It kind of detracts from any credibility he might have hope for by commenting, this flaw in logic, this lack of reason. Grow up, mate. Regards.

    2. Well, you are perhaps unwell? Certainly you are incredibly rude and insulting; possibly you have suffered a great deal in life, for that one might have sympathy, but you are making it rather hard for even the most generous of spirit

  2. It took me about 5 minutes to find out who these people are; I wish them luck trying to keep their identities secret given that their names are being blogged and shared on social media. The really disappointing thing is not judges making law when Parliament won’t (that’s just what common law judges do) but rather the moral dwarf occupying the Speaker’s chair surrendering Parliament’s rights without consulting the House. He ought to pay attention to his predecessor William Lenthall “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am”.

  3. It took me about 5 minutes to find out who these people are; I wish them luck trying to keep their identities secret given that their names are being blogged and shared on social media. The really disappointing thing is not judges making law when Parliament won’t (that’s just what common law judges do) but rather the moral dwarf occupying the Speaker’s chair surrendering Parliament’s rights without consulting the House. He ought to pay attention to his predecessor William Lenthall “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am”.

    1. He or she has a static IP address based in Ireland. Suspect it’s one of the gang of bottom-feeders who spend their entire lives stalking and hounding those people whose opinions they cannot bear, on Twitter.

  4. I think that you have missed one aspect of the public interest – has not the protagonist in this story (not the media bod) been engaging in unprotected sex with third parties while publicly posing as an advocate of safe sex?

    If it is as I suggest, then there is an overwhelming public interest.

    And yes, the Judge is an oaf for making a boneheaded decision fit for a banana republic.

    1. Yes, that’s an important aspect too, which Guido highlights but I didn’t want to focus too much on the ‘nitty gritty’ or write anything vindictive.

      I guess if he has been practicing unsafe sex, there is the possibility he is just plain stupid or forgetful rather than hypocritical?

      Or is there another issue about how feasible the notion of safe sex is, if people are likely to get too carried away in the heat of the moment? It still has public interest though, you are right, but as a public health issue perhaps?

  5. Very interesting post Caroline. I’m not convinced that expectations of marriage demanding monogamy or even an environment of stability for raising children really are as implicit within general culture as you say, and in my experience they weren’t traded upon so much by campaigners for the extension of civil marriage to same sex couples. I’d say that more and more people see ‘marital commitment’ as having a very wide range of valid interpretations,. So for me, your hypothetical parallel doesn’t work so well because the ‘traditional marriage’ side rely much more strongly on presenting a particular model of family life as optimal for society as a whole than do their opponents.

    1. Which is interesting because the case for gay marriage as being a different form or type of marriage was never made.

      Had anyone tried to say that gay relationships lack an element of fidelity or monogamy we wound have been shouted down as hateful bigots.

      1. Yes I agree with that part, but I put this down to a genuine lack of interest in discussing the meaning and function of marriage as a whole, rather than a concerted trojan horse attempt by gay men to undermine or distort the institution of marriage.

        I’d guess that gay men are more likely to have non-monogamous relationships (by prior arrangement or otherwise) than heterosexual couples, but lesbian women are the most likely to faithful (as well as STI-free) of them all.

      2. Agree again – although I think there was a small minority who were interested in subverting the whole institution of marriage. I also agree with what you say about lesbian women – that being my anecdotal experience.

        But it is vexing, how none of this was allowed to be discussed at the time.

      3. ” I put this down to a genuine lack of interest in discussing the meaning and function of marriage as a whole,”

        I would not have described it as “lack of interest”, Kathleen; it came across as antagonism, antipathy and a determination to distort the history of marriage. Did you never hear anything along the lines of “marriage has changed many times through the ages”?

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