You’ve read our reports and editorials on tomorrow’s same-sex marriage referendum. Now it’s time for your voice to be heard
Why not constitutionally protect civil partnership?
If the ‘yes’ campaign is so perturbed by the notion of civil partnership as a second-class attachment, because it has no constitutional protection, then why hasn’t the Government put that much less contentious referendum before the people, instead of trying to undermine marriage?
Times when love best expressed in a gentle no
Tim Bracken says as a Christian he has no option but to vote yes in this referendum in order to comply with the commandment ‘to love thy neighbour’ (Letters, May 18).
May I assure him that he has no need to feel painted into a corner on this?
The good Lord himself had no hesitation in disagreeing with people in the strongest of terms on numerous occasions; indeed, based on his example, it would seem that there are times when love is best expressed in a gentle but firm no.
Rev Patrick G Burke
Men and women complement each other
By giving same-sex civil partnerships the legal status of marriage, we are doing much, much more than extending marriage rights to gay people: once we call civil partnerships between two men or two women marriages, we have no further grounds for denying them the right to have children, whether through surrogacy or through adoption. The constitutional enshrinement of same-sex marriage would be an unequivocal validation of adoption by same-sex couples. After all, if they are married, how can we deprive them of the right to have children?
The ‘yes’ campaign has rather unconvincingly denied the complementarity of male and female role models, in spite of the abundant sociological evidence for the essential, formative roles of mother and father in a child’s life.
The ‘yes’ campaign is also quite mistaken in equating two fathers or two mothers with a single parent. The two cases are not analagous. Having a single parent, one is deprived of the vital role of a father or mother.
With all due respect to people in gay relationships, are they aware of how much confusion and disorientation they are likely to cause a child by exposing him or her to a type of sexual relationship that he/she is, on statistical grounds, unlikely to be naturally drawn to?
To my mind, it’s not an equal match
Regarding the forthcoming referendum. In one corner we have Prof John A Murphy, Bruce Arnold, and James Downey. And in the other corner Daniel O’Donnell and Robbie Keane. Enough said.
Gay marriage a step too far by the Government
In the Child and Family Relationships Act, the Government took upon itself to decide who is and isn’t a parent. Their decision has no regard for the ties of flesh and blood. Now the Government is trying to tell us what is and what isn’t marriage. Through this referendum the Government is attempting to force us to accept a genderless vision of marriage (without distinction as to sex) that has “nothing to do with children”.
Our constitution reads, in Article 41 (which the Government proposes to amend): “The State recognises the Family as the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.” Furthermore, “the State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack”.
Positive law is man-made law. Natural law is the law written into our nature. Natural law recognises us as male and female and acknowledges the natural necessity of the union of a man and woman in the bearing and rearing of the next generation. As such, marriage and family predate our Government, our culture and the church. Our Government’s job, as stated in our constitution, is to recognise and protect the natural family, not to redefine and prescribe it.
To me this project reeks of Government overreach, claiming control in an area of life that they have no place.
Same-sex marriage will commodify children
We must embrace all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, but never allow false compassion to cloud our thinking. It is vital for society that marriage is not redefined.
Children are not a commodity. If we vote ‘yes’, same-sex couples will have the right to use surrogacy, thus depriving children of the right to be raised by a father and a mother. Is this equality?
Politicians have shown themselves to be dishonest, self-serving and inept in handling the banks, health, water, etc. Can we trust them on this?
We must consider the long-term implications for the rights of children, the freedom of conscience for all, and the future of Irish society.
Geróid Ó Gallachóir
We are all born of opposite-sex unions
I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of Friday’s marriage referendum. The pro for the ‘yes’ side is equality. For the ‘no’ side, the pro is the uniqueness of the opposite-sex relationship. If the opposite-sex relationship is unique, then the equality argument fails.
But is it unique?The primary purpose of a same-sex relationship is the sexual fulfilment of the partners, whereas the primary purpose of the opposite-sex relationship is procreation, with sexual fulfilment as secondary.
Both relationships have other purposes — love, care, commitment, etc. Another factor supporting the uniqueness of the opposite-sex relationship is the dynamic it has played in our evolutionary development.
Needless to say, none of us — gay or straight — would be here without it, nor would we — gay or straight — be the remarkable beings that we truly are. Even same-sex couples acknowledge the primacy of opposite-sex relationships as the only way in which they can become parents.
I would, therefore, respectively, suggest that the equality argument is being used by the ‘yes’ side on emotional rather than on factual grounds.
A marriage should be about love, not babies
This is the story of two elderly relatives of mine, who have since died, but whom I think would both vote ‘yes’ in the same-sex marriage referendum, if they were still with us.
When I was a child, I had an elderly aunt and uncle, Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Eddie. I remember them with fondness for a number of reasons. Uncle Eddie always had a coin or two to slip in your pocket. Kathleen was always immaculately ‘turned out’ (ie, she took care of her appearance). They were the quintessential, adorable elderly couple, clearly in love with each other well into their 80s. But the best thing about them was their story. They had been childhood sweethearts early in the 20th century, but in the 1920s Eddie emigrated to the United States for a life working on the US railroads. They kept up occasional correspondence, keeping abreast of each other’s lives.
They both met and married others, and each celebrated a silver wedding, and more, with their respective partners. Sadly, they were both widowed within a couple of years of each other, he still living in the USA and she in Cork. As they commiserated with each other over the passing of their spouses, the correspondence became increasingly frequent, and, I can only imagine, intimate. A few short years passed, and Eddie asked his former childhood sweetheart to marry him, and to move to live in the States. She accepted. Kathleen and Eddie married, and lived in the US the few short years until his retirement, in the 1960s, and they returned home to Ireland to live out their golden years. They celebrated another silver wedding, this time to each other, and the Evening Echo covered it at the time. By the time they married, Kathleen was beyond child-bearing years.
They were married in a Catholic Church, nonetheless, as they were both widowed, and not divorcees.
The central argument of Churches, religious groups and conservative politicians, in their opposition to marriage equality, is that the primary function of a marriage is to produce children. By that yardstick, infertile, straight couples should not be allowed marry. They can adopt, of course, but so can gay people, including gay couples. Infertile, straight couples can go down the route of assisted fertility, such as surrogacy. But so can gay couples. So the rule would apparently seem to be that natural conception, gestation and delivery, within the confines of a marriage, is their accepted norm. I’m unsure what they think of unmarried straight couples who live together with children, or when children are reared by a lone, unmarried parent. Perhaps they don’t exist.
These opposition groups also warn of the impending implosion of society. Changing the traditional structure of marriage will clearly mean Armageddon on the streets. OK, I’m being mischievous, but they do argue strongly that the undermining of traditional marriage will weaken society. They don’t like tinkering with traditional, accepted norms. Again, by that logic, inter-racial marriage in the United States would still not be allowed. It’s only a few short decades since there were states in the US that had statutes on their books forbidding black people and white people from marrying. Women have only been enfranchised within the last century, and slavery was widely accepted in the decades before that.
Marriage equality exists in a growing number of countries across the world, and 70% of the population of the US now live in states that grant full civil marriage rights to gay couples. The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on nationwide marriage equality this summer, and, given their recent rulings, the pro-equality side is rightfully very hopeful. Repeated studies show that marriage between two committed people, regardless of sexual orientation, enables an increasingly stable society.
The other chestnut is that children raised by gay parents will somehow suffer psychologically, spirituality or morally. Studies show that children raised by same-sex couples fare no better, nor worse, than those raised by straight couples. I don’t expect the Church to marry my partner, Alan, and I, nor do I expect the State to force them to do so. No more than I would expect my local priest to officiate at the wedding of two Jews or two Muslims.
My Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Eddie did not marry at an advanced age to have children. They married for companionship and security. They married for friendship and support. They married for love.
This is an opportunity to embrace equality
This is not about changing the definition of marriage. Anyone who reads the actual wording in this referendum will see immediately this is about extending the rights of marriage to include single-sex couples.
This is about equality and bringing Ireland into the 21st century. When we advance as a nation by extending equality to all our citizens, we leave dictionaries and sagas behind but that is progress. I hope people think seriously before voting and take this wonderful opportunity to embrace and promote equality.
How dare I ask for more than civil partnership?
Civil partnership was introduced in 2010, along with a raft of other statutes.
The legal basis of my union is currently on a par with road traffic legislation, various finance instruments and the Energy (Biofuel Obligation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010. Sure, why would I want more!
We live in a civilisation, and not in ‘nature’
Appeals to what is ‘natural’, from both sides of the same-sex marriage referendum debate, miss the point that the function of civilisation is to progress out of nature and into culture.
While we remain connected with nature for health and for ecological sustainability, how we organise society is no longer determined by pre-programmed, ‘natural’ instincts, as in the animal world, but by collective decision-making.
Monogamy, for instance, emerged out of culture. For primates, the ‘natural’ way is for the dominant male to impregnate as many females as possible, to propagate the species and his individual genes.
This used to be reflected in the practice of kings, and of other privileged men who had multiple wives, as well as harems and concubines. As culture has evolved, this now appears to us to be a relatively unenlightened form of social organisation.
Cultural evolution is a given. The referendum debate exemplifies this: that a wide spectrum of competing opinions can be publicly expressed, without fear of persecution or prosecution, is a very recent, and welcome, development in human history.
Whatever the outcome of the vote on May 22, we can rest assured that culture, one way or another, will continue to evolve.
Majority should not sit in judgment of a minority
On Friday, we have the opportunity to give a small portion of the population the same right in relation to marriage that the rest of us take for granted.
The majority of us will be unaffected by the outcome, but it will make a big, positive difference to the lives of gay people in this country. They cannot pass this referendum without us. We are not being asked if gay people should become parents (they don’t need our permission); we are not being asked about surrogacy (this will be legislated for separately).
The vote on Friday is not about these things. It is, as it always was, about the equal right of gay people to marry. Is the majority really going to stand in self-righteous judgment of a small minority and deny them? I hope not. Vote yes.
If passed, there will be both winners and losers
There will be more than one winner if the referendum is passed tomorrowon Friday. Top of the list will be the lawyers, followed by the print industry, LGBT of course, but there will inevitably be losers. TDs, because through all their befuddled thinking, short term, there will be new gender quotas, possibly two new genders to cope with. The churches will eventually be compelled by law to sanctify in some form these unions or be prosecuted for depriving a legal right. The lawyers will have a field day no doubt.
The amount of ink needed to change every application form would fill 20 Olympic swimming pools and half a forest of paper pulp to replace existing paperwork. All this for what can only be compared to putting an ashtray on a motorbike. There’s no point going down the reproductive route... none at all, as without going outside the “marriage”, nothing can possibly happen. So it’s all a little vanity trip, but who know’s what other demand could be on the agenda.
Constitution should have gay union article
This marriage referendum will go down in history as the “equality” referendum. This is a brilliant catchphrase which seems to be serving its purpose very well, but could it be confusing the issue as it “struts and frets its hour upon the stage” – as Shakespeare might put it. What does the word actually mean?
The word may be used on the understanding/ belief that all people are equal in the eyes of God. After all, we are enjoined to love our neighbour as ourselves: and who is our neighbour? Mankind of every description. So far, so good.
However, “all God’s children have a place in the choir. Some sing low and some sing higher”. In other words, there are recognised differences within this loving universal brother/sisterhood. Maire Geoghegan-Quinn appears to disagree: “Equality means that if, as a society, we cherish the institution of marriage as essential, we cannot then exclude a substantial minority from that institution” But what is marriage essential for? Is marriage not recognised as essential for the procreation of the human race? Kevin Myers argues: “A constitutional amendment cannot make two homosexual men ‘equal’ to a female mother and a male father. I’m not saying that two men cannot be good and loving parents. That’s not the point. The point is an all-binding law etc.”
The ReferendumCommission appears to recognise the “equality” problem and have left that word out of its title. It talks of the MarriageReferendum not the MarriageEqualityReferendum.
The yes proponents may have taken their eyes off the ball by using the word “equality”. The The real object of the yes campaign is to get constitutional protection for their partnerships. The problem comes when this is being elbowed into the heterosexual union compartment in the Constitution, like a cuckoo in the nest, shoving out the occupants. Why not a separate nest in the Constitution for same-sex unions? The same sexes should be awarded the constitutional guarantees they are looking for under some appropriately worded new section of the Constitution. Do not amend existing sections and everybody should be happy.
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