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What exactly will we be voting on?

So a referendum on same sex marriage is being put before the people who never asked for it on the basis of a vote by a Constitutional Convention made up of 66 randomly selected citizens, two of whom happened to have been Labour local government candidates, a third a chairman of a Fine Gael party branch.

Even more astonishingly, that same random selection threw up a married couple and a pair of neighbours. Each pair of these representatives of the citizenry of Ireland were marked by an experienced politician who was, almost to a man or woman, strongly in favour of same sex marriage.

To give a sense of the bias at work just consider some of the key politicians who were involved in the process. Among them were Ivana Bacik, Jerry Buttimer, John Lyons, Ciara Conway, Charles Flanagan, Frances Fitzgerald and Anne Ferris. Putting it mildly, it could not be said of anyone of them that they came to the convention with an open mind to hear the experts and lobby groups give their inputs. Yes, the “experts”.

Normally experts give different views of such subjects and there is no shortage of experts and research to make a case against same sex marriage. Hardly surprisingly the Gilmore-appointed chairman, Tom Arnold did not feel the need for balanced debate and was happy once he had representatives of relevant disciplines like psychologist Jim Sheehan, who quoted only studies supporting the argument that children fare as well in same sex marriages as they do in heterosexual ones. He entered no caveats regarding the methodological difficulties of sampling, or the lack of meaningful longitudinal studies behind the evidence offered. If that does not sound like an attack on democracy, consider what happened in the Dáil this week.

Despite needing the approval of the people for same sex marriage, the Government, either presuming on their positive response, or entirely indifferent to what the people may think, are beginning a legislative process to set in place provisions for same sex adoption and parenting. So what exactly is left for us to vote on once that is accomplished?

Most if not all peoples’ objections to same sex marriage centres on the belief that children fare best when raised by their biological parents who alone can provide a child with a loving father and a loving mother and give them the security and identity that unique bond offers.

If the Government succeed in bypassing the Constitution in this manner and that of course remains to be seen, then the only question left to the people is a semantic one. Marriage, like family, will already have changed irrevocably. The electorate will simply be requested to update its official definition.

Margaret Hickey


Co Cork


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