Once upon a time the Archdruid Rowan lived in his house in the woods in England. He had thirty-seven children, and they had all left home and were spread across the world, but they all came home at Christmastime.
One Christmas, one of the children spoke up at the dinner table, her name was Cassandra. She had always been a girl who knew her own mind and didn’t follow convention, but her announcement was to shock some of her brothers. ‘Daddy, I’m a lesbian’, she said. The dinner table immediately went quiet, and you could hear a pin drop. All the children knew that Miles and Lucas hated gays, and called for the death penalty for homosexuals in their own countries. Marcus spoke up, ‘Maybe this is the moment to mention that I am bisexual’. All hell broke loose, cruel and vindictive language was used, and some of the children stormed off. It was a mess.
All year, Archdruid Rowan pleaded with his children to come together for the following Christmas, but Miles and Lucas refused to attend if Marcus and Cassandra were there. With great reluctance, Archdruid Rowan started to draw up a contract. He said there would be two or more dinner tables in his house and asked all of his children not to do or say anything that might be controversial. If they did then they would have to sit on alternative dinner tables, he had some friends who would arbitrate.
Miles and Lucas felt cautiously optimistic about the contract. They felt it should read, ‘You can be part of this family, so long as you aren’t gay and don’t do anything else to upset anyone’. Christmas the next year was tense. Lucas attended, but Miles didn’t. Archdruid Rowan hadn’t finished the contract but it was very, very long and essentially said, ‘You can be part of the enhanced family if you think and do the right things, if you do anything controversial there will be ‘relational consequences’ and you will sit on other tables.
Cassandra had some more news. ‘Daddy, be happy for me, I have entered a civil partnership with my lover’. Lucas snorted his ale all over his spiced grouse. Archdruid Rowan was furious. ‘I told you not to do anything like that until we all decided it was acceptable’, he shouted. Everyone sat in silence, but as they looked at the disgust on Lucas’s face and the empty chair where Miles used to sit, you could almost hear them saying, ‘Like that is ever going to happen’. After a few minutes the children all started to make their excuses and left.
A few weeks later, the contract arrived in the post. One of the children, Anastasia, rang up her father. ‘Dad, please don’t make us sign this, surely we don’t have to sign a contract to be part of the family?’ Her father replied tersely, ‘No, you don’t have to sign it – but if you don’t then you won’t sit on the first table’. ‘But Dad’, Anastasia argued, ‘our tradition is that all are equal and all are welcome, even sinners and tax-collectors’. ‘That is my final offer’, replied Archdruid Rowan, ‘it is up to you what you decide to do’. And with that he put the phone down and Anastasia broke down in tears.