While the Bishops said they do not want to make it difficult for other family units, they believe the best way to cater for their needs is through legislation rather than changing the Constitution.
The Irish Bishops Committee on the Family made these submissions on the third day of public hearings on family rights being held by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution.
The Bishop’s spokesman Fr Paul Bartlett said it would be difficult to get an agreed definition of other family units for the Constitution. “How would you do it without undermining the position of the marriage and its links with the common good,” Fr Bartlett added.
On the question of putting expressed rights for children into the Constitution, Fr Paul Tighe said: “If it is judged that there is need for expressed rights for children then we will take that route.”
Asked by Labour Deputy Jan O’Sullivan if they thought gay unions would undermine marriage, Fr Tighe said: “The question should not be should there be gay marriages or not but can there be? If you open marriage to gay people you will radically redefine the definition of marriage.” Meanwhile, the Gay and Lesbian Union Éire (GLUE) said they did not want the rights for full marriage for gay people. But GLUE wants the State to legalise civil partnerships for gays that will protect their tax, property and inheritance rights. GLUE spokesman Mark Lacey said they also want unions between Irish gays and non-nationals protected.
Among the groups who made submissions were: Foróige; Women in the Home; Immigrant Council of Ireland; the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Christian Solidarity Party.