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The Irish electorate will be going to the polls on May 22 to vote in a referendum.
I think that a referendum is a good thing, as long as it’s an informed one. Let the electorate decide and whatever the majority desires will be passed into law, or into the Constitution in this case. Such is the way of democracy.
There is a fly in the ointment though. The thing is that in order for democracy to work the electorate should be able to inform themselves and to speak freely and discuss the issues at hand.
There should be no fear of repercussion for having a different or unpopular opinion and informed debate should not only be possible, it should be stimulated and safe-guarded.
However this is not the case. At the moment in Ireland a case of genital warts would make one more popular than opposing the above described constitutional amendment.
Those favouring traditional marriage are shouted down in media debates, insulted, labelled as “homophobes” and threatened with violence.
It’s a clear case of “dissent will not be tolerated”. Rather than engaging in robust debate the same-sex marriage storm-troopers, insist that any different opinion is ground to dust.
Which brings me to my next point; history has proven that this type of legislation will lead directly to the end of freedom of speech and expression.
Removing the definition describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman from the Constitution not only makes it possible for same-sex couples to marry, it by effect makes a marriage between a heterosexual and a homosexual couple equal.
Two groups will be hit hardest by this; those employed by the State and those who on religious or conscientious grounds object to partake, service or host ceremonies involving same-sex marriage.
Those groups have been hit with sanctions, dismissal and legal action in other countries. However there is hope, in certain states in the US laws have recently been passed allowing people the freedom to do as described above on religious or conscientious grounds. Reactionists have called these laws “homophobic” but nothing less is true.
Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students.
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