Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality, has today announced the wording agreed by the Government for the constitutional amendment on Marriage Equality. The wording is contained in the Thirty-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015 which was today approved by Government and which will be published in the coming days.
Minister Fitzgerald said: “People will be asked to decide whether the following new wording should be added to the Constitution: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’.”
In 2010 civil partnerships became legal in Ireland, so what’s the difference between a civil partnership and civil marriage? This FAQ should help you understand the vast differences. It has nothing to do with religious marriage.
And yet some very important inequalities remain. For example, Civil Partnership:
- does not permit children to have a legally recognised relationship with their parents – only the biological one. This causes all sorts of practical problems for hundreds of families with schools and hospitals as well as around guardianship, access and custody. In the worst case, it could mean that a child is taken away from a parent and put into care on the death of the biological parent.
- does not recognise same sex couples’ rights to many social supports that may be needed in hardship situations and may literally leave a loved one out in the cold.
- defines the home of civil partners as a “shared home”, rather than a “family home” , as is the case for married couples. This has implications for the protection of dependent children living in this home and also means a lack of protection for civil partners who are deserted.
Voting no won’t make any difference to the person voting no but it will hurt others, as Dara Ó Briain put it in a recent tweet:
The best thing about campaigning for a "No" vote in the #MarRef is, even if you lose, it will make no difference to your life whatsoever.
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) April 23, 2015
Please take a few minutes to read what David Norris has to say about this referendum on equality.
I’m glad I don’t drive to work. The No campaign put their posters up today and they’re disturbing the upsetting in their desperation to get people to vote no. I’d be raging all the way home if I had to drive past them.
There are so many reasons to vote yes to this referendum. Here’s a few that Facebook user Tony McCarthy posted:
Seeing the blatant misinformation in the No posters gone up today has my blood boiling as it’s an attempt to hoodwink the population. The point about surrogacy on one of them is downright idiotic as surrogacy already exists and there won’t be battery farms for the production of gaybies.
Annoyed me so much I’ve decided to counter every argument I’ve heard. If your views can’t stand up to scrutiny then the problem isn’t with the scrutiny.
1-The referendum has nothing to do with adoption. This was already passed under the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. The No Campaign’s posters, and many arguments for a No vote, are a deliberate misrepresentation of what the referendum is about.
2-The point raised about the “ideal” of a traditional family is moot. We live in a world where there are single parents, divorced parents, stay-at-home fathers, inter-racial marriages, adoption and surrogacy. The referendum is about recognising a union which has significant implications on, among other things, tax benefits, hospital visitation rights, and inheritance. This doesn’t affect you; it only affects the parties concerned.
3-In relation to point two, legal rights and benefits of heterosexual couples are not affected by gay marriage. Nor has there been any demonstrable impact upon “traditional marriages” in countries where gay marriage has been legalised. The function of a “traditional marriage” operates on its own, individual basis.
4-Two people having their union recognised will not negatively affect you in any way, shape, or form. However, the failure to pass this referendum WOULD negatively affect people, and not just the people seeking to have their union recognised. It negatively affects their families and friends as well.
5-Legalising gay marriage will not have an affect on the Church as the referendum relates to the State’s idea of marriage. No church can, or will, be forced to perform a ceremony which is contradictory to its beliefs. However, the next point addresses the Church’s changeable stance.
6- In addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century). These, and similar unions i.e. between two women, are recognised in Church archives up until the 18th century.
7-The argument that marriage is for the purpose of pro-creation ignores numerous factors. Infertile couples are able to get married. Couples who never intend on having children are allowed to get married. Women past child-bearing age are allowed to get married.
8-Marriage equality cannot be seen as a precedent for other ridiculous ideas which have been put forward to argue against it e.g. the foolish argument about allowing a man to marry an animal. The referendum is specific in its wording: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” This does not change the legal age of marriage, nor the laws regarding what types of marriage are illegal e.g. incestuous.
9-The argument that it is “unnatural” has no basis. In nature, homosexual behaviour has been observed in everything from bugs to bottle-nosed dolphins. It has been directly observed in hundreds of species. 10% of rams refuse to mate with ewes but will do so with other rams.
10-“Marriage has always been between a man and a woman” falls down on its premise that the status quo should always be maintained. If this were the case then women wouldn’t have the vote, slavery would still be in widespread existence in the Western World, medical treatments would still be treated with “magic” and prayer, inter-racial relationships would be forbidden, the modern technological era and the industrial revolution would never have come about, and the development of humanity would stagnate.
11-This is just a bonus point on the adoption point which, as noted, is not relevant to the referendum. 30 years of research from the American Academy of Pediatrics has failed to find any significant evidence that children raised by heterosexual couples are any better off than children raised by homosexual couples.
12-If you’ve read this far, fair play. As a final point, it boils down to whether or not you want to deny two consenting adults the right to have their union recognised in the eyes of the State. Not having that right is something which causes significant hurt. I’ll repeat that: Not having that right causes significant hurt. Forbidding that right, and causing that hurt, is an example of humans failing to display humanity.
Feel free to share. This is the only public post I’ve ever put up.
Photos are from this Red FM post.
Update on May 18th: A leaflet from the Iona Institute was dropped into our mailbox this morning. I’ve upload scans to Imgur here but here are smaller versions of them. I hope to look back on this blog post when I’m an old man and be thankful that the Ireland of 2015 is ancient history.