Marriage is dead. Long live Marriage!

It’s over in Ireland. The Irish people, by something close to a 60 – 40 majority popular vote have redefined marriage out of existence in their State Constitution and have replaced it with a shallow charade which they will now call marriage.

Marriage however, that primeval bond between a male and a female, still exists – and will exist so long as a man and a woman come together, as did Adam and Eve, to beget children. Long live marriage.

But the reality now is that the future of natural marriage, the conjugal union of man and woman, in the story of mankind will be even more fraught with difficulty than it has been in the past. It has never had an easy passage – either because of the folly and selfishness of individuals or the pandering of their public representatives to that same folly and selfishness. The first big compromise on the part of the latter was divorce. Now we have this. Ireland’s story is just one piece of a global jigsaw – symbolic for all sorts of reasons, but still just a piece. The New York Times now triumphantly declares that Ireland has advanced to the vanguard of this deconstructive process.

Ireland’s electorate has now robbed natural marriage of its constitutional protection in the Irish State. The laws relating to family, children, and all those things which the State’s endorsement of marriage framed and supported are essentially cut adrift in a sea which will be stormy, treacherous and at times destructive of society’s common good and the well-being of individuals. Because of this foolish action, which they thought was just a matter of changing a name, broadening a definition to include something else, they are complicit in an act which is an attempt to change human nature itself. As one opponent of the decision described it, “grotesque nonsense

Watch this space.

How did this all happen? We know the short-term story well. For an American and global perspective read After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s. This was a book published in 1989 by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen which argues that after the gay liberation phase of the 1970s and 1980s, gay rights groups should adopt more professional public relations techniques to convey their message. This they did with a success which all marvel at. The blueprint was then applied to Ireland

For the Irish story, read how Atlantic Philanthropies promoted and funded the infiltration of Ireland’s state and charitable agencies to achieve yesterday’s referendum victory.

But the origin of this social crisis – John Waters, Irish newspaper columnist of the first rank, described it as a social catastrophe – goes back centuries, indeed almost a millennium. Essentially it all began when sentiment and human emotions began to gain the upper hand over human reason.

In The Allegory of Love, C. S. Lewis would have us believe, very convincingly, that a radical shift in human consciousness and culture began with the sudden appearance of what we call “courtly love” in 11th century Languedoc. Lewis explored this theme and thesis in this book, one of his masterworks, perhaps his greatest.

The dominant sentiment he explores is love. But it is love of a highly specialised sort, “whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love.” This all began with the love poetry specific to that time and that place, the love poetry of the Troubadours. The characteristics of this sentiment, Lewis tells us, and its systematic coherence throughout this poetry as a whole, “are so striking that they easily lead to a fatal misunderstanding. We are tempted to treat ‘courtly love’ as a mere episode in literary history – an episode that we have finished with…”

But we have not finished with it. He sees an unmistakable continuity connecting these love songs with the love poetry of the later Middle Ages, and thence, through Petrarch and many others, with that of the present day. If the thing at first escapes our notice, this is because we are so familiar with the erotic tradition of modern Europe that we mistake it for something natural and universal and therefore do not inquire into its origins. As Lewis says, it seems to us natural that love should be the commonest theme of serious imaginative literature. He looks back at literature preceding this southern French explosion, from the earlier Middle Ages back into antiquity, and finds that “what we took for ‘nature’ is really a special state of affairs, which will probably have an end, and which certainly had a beginning in eleventh-century Provence.” He continues:

It seems – or it seemed to us till lately – a natural thing that love (under certain conditions) should be regarded as a noble and ennobling passion: it is only if we imagine ourselves trying to explain this doctrine to Aristotle, Virgil, St. Paul, or the author of Beowulf, that we become aware how far from natural it is…

French poets, in the eleventh century, discovered or invented, or were the first to express, that

romantic species of passion which English poets were still writing about in the nineteenth. They effected a change which has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched…

Compared with this revolution the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature. There can be no mistake about the novelty of romantic love: our only difficulty is to imagine in all its bareness the mental world that existed before its coming – to wipe out of our minds, for a moment, nearly all that makes the food both of modern sentimentality and modern cynicism.

The death of marriage, as we knew it in our language and our laws, came late in the evolution of our culture, infected as it was, slowly but surely by this creeping dominance of sentimentality over reason. First came the advance of divorce. Then a sizeable proportion of couples abandoned marriage in the name of love – which was all that mattered to them. Cohabitation became a new norm. Then came the demand for social acceptance of homosexual love. Its lobby demanded that marriage be redefined to provide them with society’s badge of acceptance – even while society’s concept of what marriage really is was already in its death throes as a result of earlier and successive redefinitions.

To come to grips with and understand this long revolutionary process, Lewis tells us that we need to

conceive a world emptied of that ideal of ‘happiness’ – a happiness grounded on successful romantic love – which still supplies the motive of our popular fiction. In ancient literature love seldom rises above the levels of merry sensuality or domestic comfort, except to be treated as a tragic madness, an ἄτη which plunges otherwise sane people (usually women) into crime and disgrace. Such is the love of Medea, of Phaedra, of Dido; and such the love from which maidens pray that the gods may protect them.

At the other end of the scale we find the comfort and utility of a good wife acknowledged:

Odysseus loves Penelope as he loves the rest of his home and possessions, and Aristotle rather grudgingly admits that the conjugal relation may now and then rise to the same level as the virtuous friendship between good men. But this has plainly very little to do with ‘love’ in the modern or medieval sense; and if we turn to ancient love-poetry proper, we shall be even more disappointed.

Plato will not be reckoned an exception by those who have read him with care… Those who call themselves Platonists at the Renaissance may imagine a love which reaches the divine without abandoning the human and becomes spiritual while remaining also carnal; but they do not find this in Plato. If they read it into him, this is because they are living, like ourselves, in the tradition which began in the eleventh century.

So what has all this to do with the Irish referendum? This: the Irish “Yes to Equality” rode home to victory on the on the shoulders of this very same “love” which emanated from the songs of the Troubadours of the 11th century. It wasn’t that the young and old who voted Yes to “love and equality” had been reading courtly love poetry. No, they had been fed on the artefacts of 18th and 19th century romanticism, morphing in the 20th and 21st century into a voraciously consumed diet of pop culture expressed through sentimental Hollywood movies and ultra-sentimental pop songs – not to mention soap-operas and the chic lit of Maeve Binchy, Cecelia Aherne et al.

The current West End production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is moving to Dublin for a very short season next month. I watched some clips of the 1950s Hollywood version the night before the referendum. I love the show. But while watching it I had premonitions of what was going to happen the next day. How could any generation, I thought, fed on this and much inferior sentimental material do otherwise that vote for “love” over all the other values at stake.

The helplessly smitten Julie (Shirley Jones) sang:

Common sense may tell you

That the ending will be sad

And now’s the time to break and run away

But what’s the use of wond’rin’

If the ending will be sad

He’s your fella and you love him

There’s nothing more to say.

There is nothing more to say, for the moment. This excepted: the crown is in the hands of a usurper but the King lives, and always will, albeit in the shadows. The marriage of man and woman is as indestructible as is human nature itself. No tyranny, not even a democratic one, can destroy it.

Battle for natural marriage lost in Ireland – next up, battle for freedom of conscience

Just after mid-day in Ireland today the Iona Institute, leader of one of the voluntary campaign groups fighting against the redefinition of marriage by Irish Government and the entire political establishment in the country, effectively conceded victory to its opponents. Their statement said:

We would like to congratulate the Yes side on winning such a handsome victory in the marriage referendum. They fought a very professional campaign that in truth began long before the official campaign started.

For our part, The Iona Institute is proud to have helped represent the many hundreds of thousands of Irish people who would otherwise have had no voice in this referendum because all of the political parties backed a Yes vote.

A formal announcement from the count is expected to be made in Dublin Castle by mid afternoon.

The Institute thanked the thousands of volunteers up and down the country who worked day and night to try and secure a No vote.

Commenting on the outcome, David Quinn said: “We believe a fought a good campaign. It was always going to be an uphill battle. However, we helped to provide a voice to the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who did vote No. The fact that no political party supported them must be a concern from a democratic point of view.

He concluded: “Going forward, we will continue to affirm the importance of the biological ties and of motherhood and fatherhood. We hope the Government will address the concerns voters on the No side have about the implications for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”

It’s a free world, but is it a fair one?

  
Now we know what we knew all along but had not proved it. Irish print media has again shamed itself with its blatant unfairness. Three times more “YES” articles than “NO” articles on the country’s marriage referendum appeared in newspapers in the three weeks prior to the poll which takes place today.

The finding is based on independently conducted research commissioned by PR and Public Affairs company MKC Communications from Newsaccess Media Intelligence.

A detailed analysis of coverage of the Referendum in ten national titles – Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Daily Mail, The Herald, The Star, Sunday Independent, Sunday Times, Sunday Business Post, and Mail on Sunday — showed that there was a total of 424 “Yes” articles across those titles in that period, with just 135 “No” articles.

A further 214 “Neutral” articles were carried in the same period by the same newspapers.

This is not an opinion poll. All articles were read and analysed by Newsaccess Media Intelligence in terms of whether the tone of the piece was in favour of a YES vote, a NO vote or a NEUTRAL analysis of the referendum.

Last night a statement from the company explained the motivation behind its research.

“Because of the enormous significance of tomorrow’s Referendum, and the welter of charge and counter-charge about the media’s treatment of the subject in recent weeks, we decided that it would be an important exercise to bring some scientific measurement and facts to the issue of how the Referendum debate was reported in Irish media. 773 articles were printed in the newspapers analysed in a three week period, and the level of coverage for a single topic is possibly unprecedented in recent times”.

Irish newspapers have no statutory obligation to be fair and balanced. In this case they reflected the political establishment which, officially, was totally lopsided in its support for the coalition Goverenment’s proposal. Secretly, however the two major parties had a number of parliamentary representatives who were going to vote against. A handful of these eventually declared themselves publicly and already there are calls for their expulsion. Freedom in modern Ireland is a very qualified comodity – and it is likely to become more so. 

“Unlike broadcast media, which must provide balanced coverage of referenda, the print media are not subject to such strictures and this research confirms the broad and widespread support in the Irish print media for a ‘Yes’ vote”, said Laurie Mannix, Managing Director.

For copy of the report, contact MKC Communications 01 7038600

Snapshot of political bankruptcy

 

Collins (left) and his Party leader Michael Martiin

 
Has Ireland reached the nadir of political life and culture?

The Fianna Fail Party’s director of elections and spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Niall Collins, was on Irish radio (SpiritFM) this morning in discussion with Petra Conroy, who was representing the case for the defence of marriage. The case will go to judgement of the people in tomorrow’s referendum on same-sex unions – deciding whether they may be recognised as identical with the union of a man and a woman or not.

Collins, unable to deal with the arguments Conroy was presenting to him began to get offensive. Conroy had to take time out from the arguments to establish whether or not he was discussing the issue or attacking her personally. It ended up that he was.

Conroy: Niall can I ask you a question? You’ve mentioned “nonsense”, you have mentioned “lies”, you mentioned “disingenuousness”. Can I ask you do you think that I, everything that I am saying…?

Collins: No, the campaign you are associated with.

Conroy: I’m part of that campaign.

Collins: yeah you’re part of a campaign that is a big lie.

Conroy: Do you think what I have said today, the case I have outlined, is just lies to cover a desire to treat gay people as unequal.

Collins: Yes I do.

Conroy: So you think I’m lying and misleading, in order to cover… That’s something, that really is something! Actually I don’t normally ask this but I really hope that you take that back.

Collins: What I have said is that the no campaign is a big lie, and it is, and you’re associated with the No campaign.

The implications of Collins’ remarks are clear. He is his Party’s shadow Minister for Justice and Equality.

For decades, for most of the last century in fact, Fianna Fail was the largest political party in the Republic of Ireland, and was the party in power for most of that time. Post financial meltdown, into which it stupidly shepherded the country, it no longer is. It still aspires to greatness but with this kind of material at its heart there is little sign that this will be anytime soon.

Veteran sociologist on the absurdity of redefining marriage in the Irish Constitution

Trinity College Dublin

WHY PEOPLE SHOULD VOTE NO TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

By Anthony Coughlan

Since history began the institution of marriage between men and women has existed in all societies to ensure that the next generation, children, are brought up wherever practicable by the mothers and fathers who are responsible for conceiving them, until those children reach adulthood.

This is ABC in any sociology textbook. Male-female marriage is the basis of the natural links between the generations. It antedates the great religions. No society anywhere, apart from a few in recent years in Latin America and Europe, has regarded marriage as covering homosexuals, because lesbian and gay couples cannot conceive or produce children.

What we are being asked to do on Friday is to amend Article 41 of the Constitution to change marriage and the family from the male-female-based institution that it has always been understood to be in Ireland’s Constitution and laws, into something profoundly different.

It is not a mere matter of EXTENDING THE SCOPE AND COVERAGE of the institution of marriage and the family to include LGBT people. It is TO TRANSFORM FUNDAMENTALLY THE SOCIAL, CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL CHARACTER OF THE INSTITUTION ITSELF.

If people vote Yes it means that henceforth in Ireland families based on so-called “marriage” between two males or two females – who are incapable as couples of producing children – will be included among families that are stated in our Constitution as being  “the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society . . . a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights antecedent and superior to all positive law. . . the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.”

That is a ludicrous proposition, as UCC Professor John A. Murphy has pointed out in the Irish Times.

If we agree to write such an absurdity into the Irish Constitution, it will surely make this country and those in our political class who are responsible for it, into an international laughing stock … And deservedly so.

There are some 198 States in the world. Fewer than one-tenth of them, 17 I understand, have introduced same-sex marriage – all of them by Parliamentary vote or Court order.

Writing same-sex marriage into one’s State Constitution however is permanent, irreversible and likely to have many unforeseen, unintended and unwanted consequences. No other country has done that.

A MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE WAY OF DOING JUSTICE to the 1-2% of the population who are permanently homosexual without transforming the nature of marriage for the 98-99% who are not, would be to give recognition in the Constitution to civil partnerships, which is not the case at present.

Such an obvious way of being fair to our homosexual fellow-citizens does not seem to have been considered by the Government in its rush to push through homosexual “marriage” without any teasing out of its likely complex consequences in a Green Paper or White Paper beforehand.

If Irish voters transform the nature of marriage in the Constitution by voting Yes on Friday they will be endowing gay and lesbian couples with exactly the same constitutional rights to “procreate”, to “found” a family and to have children as opposite-sex couples have.

How can two men “found” a family?

Gay and lesbian couples can only exercise their new constitutional right to “procreate as a family” by the use of eggs or sperm donated by others and the use of surrogate mothers who are willing to “rent out” their wombs to others for nine months at a time.

That is why surrogacy is a relevant issue. It is not an invention, as Yes-side people assert.

Surrogacy means more children being brought up without links to their genetic mothers. It means more exploitation of poor women in poor countries for the benefit of rich people.

Surrogacy is unregulated in Ireland now, but if we change the Constitution homosexual couples will be able to claim it in the Courts as essential to the exercise of their new constitutional rights to procreate and to found families as couples – on the ground of “equality”.

This is presumably the reason why the Government wants to get voters to change the Constitution first, and thereby clear a constitutional path to facilitating surrogacy for LGBT couples by ordinary statute law later.

CAN AMERICAN MONEY BUY AN IRISH REFERENDUM?

One of the many unconsidered consequences of voting to change the Constitution is that it would alter the legal-political effect of the first Lisbon Treaty Protocol, which the Government used to persuade Irish people to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, after they had rejected it in 2008.

The Lisbon Treaty, which establishes the EU Constitution, gives the EU the power to lay down human rights standards as a matter of supranational law across its 28 Member States. Article 9 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights allows for same-sex marriage and the right “to found a family” on that basis.

As it stands, Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty Protocol is an insurmountable legal barrier to supranational EU law on marriage, the family and education across the EU. If we remove that barrier by changing the Constitution ourselves, we clear the way for EU law on same-sex marriage in all EU countries by decision of the EU Court of Justice in due time.

Ireland would thus become a bridgehead in the EU for the powerful pharmaceutical companies that make up the donor-assisted human reproduction industry and the accompanying lucrative surrogacy business in America and Europe.

Can American money buy an Irish referendum? That is the question put in an Irish Times article (and further afield) last week under that title.

In it we were informed how key elements of the Yes campaign – Marriage Equality, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network(GLEN), and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, have received some $17 million in recent years from the American foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, to help transform the position of marriage in the Irish Constitution.

The taxpayer-funded Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission(IHREC), the State’s official human rights body, wrongly advised the Government, the political parties and the general public that there is a right to same-sex marriage under the European Convention on Human Rights, even though the Court which interprets the Convention has laid down in the Hamalainen v.Finland case that there is no such right.

It turns out that the IHREC too got €2 million from Atlantic Philanthropies.

It has been calculated from Atlantic’s own web-site that this single American foundation invested €735 million in Irish projects in the past 13 years, of which €25 million has been devoted to agencies promoting change in the area of LBGT interests.

It is clear from its web-site also that the Board of this US-based body has had intimate relations with the Government and has determinedly exerted that influence in recent years to change Irish social policy  and the Irish Constitution as regards same-sex marriage. The money it provided has been responsible for the systematic lobbying of politicians of all parties on this matter.

We were also told last week that the withdrawal of Government funding of pre-marriage courses by the Catholic charity Accord, is mere coincidence. Then the next day we learned that the Government agency Tusla, which finances Accord, has just received €8 million from the same Atlantic Philanthropies. The coincidences get more curious.

Whether they are aware of it or not, it looks very much as if the key bodies on the Yes-side mentioned have become outriders for US-based Big Pharma, the American social media companies that are cheerleaders for this issue, and the accompanying gender-neutral ideology which seeks to legitimate same-sex marriage across Europe.

If voters change the Constitution on Friday the Irish State will become an ideological flag-bearer in the EU for the powerful economic interests involved in the donor-assisted human reproduction industry and the lucrative international surrogacy business that is its complement.

Worth mentioning in conclusion is that if people vote Yes it will become constitutionally impossible for future Irish public policy to support or favour male-female couples and their children in any way over the “families” of homosexuals.

That is what constitutional and legal “equality” will have to mean.

The new constitutional position of marriage and the family will then have to be taught in our schools, at least in civics classes.

THIS IN TURN IS LIKELY TO CAUSE FAR MORE PAINFUL CONFUSION REGARDING SEXUAL IDENTITY and orientation among vulnerable adolescent young people in the future than is the case at present or has been in the past.

Voters feel that they are being pressurized into voting Yes in order to do the decent thing by homosexuals.

They are told they should feel guilty by not voting for “equality” when the Constitution provides that all citizens are already equal before the law.

They are being deceived and misled by many people who should know better.

IRISH VOTERS SHOULD HAVE THE COURAGE OF FREE CITIZENS, THOUGHTFUL LIBERALS AND TRUE REPUBLICANS and give the nonsense that is currently being thrown at them from all sides a firm “No”.

The State can then take the creative social policy initiative of putting civil partnership into the Irish Constitution, setting a good international example in doing that.

That would give affectional shared-domicile relations between same-sex couples, whether homosexual, platonic friends or siblings who desire such, full constitutional recognition, while leaving marriage and the marriage-based family as it has always been.

But for that to happen voters must say No to same-sex “marriage” first.

A PERSONAL NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

My views on marriage are not religiously based, but are grounded rather in the ABCs of sociology and anthropology. I do not belong to any of the No-side groups on this matter.

I have however taught social policy at TCD for over 30 years, and dealt a lot with family law and public policy on family issues over that time.

I have nothing personal to gain by giving my views on this issue.

I do so only because as a social science professional I believe that Irish voters will be making a mistake which many will come to regret if they vote on Friday to transform fundamentally the character of marriage and the family based on marriage in their State Constitution. No other country has done this.

Irish social policy can easily do justice to the interests of LGBT people by building upon Civil Partnership and putting that into the Constitution in some future referendum, without transforming the nature of marriage for everyone else in this one.

I set out my reasons for holding this view in the article above.

With reference to the point in the article about American money being used to buy an Irish referendum, I understand that Mr Chuck Feeney, who did outstanding work for the Irish Peace Process in the 1990s, has had no say for years in the funding decisions of the Board of the Atlantic Philanthropies foundation.

(John) Anthony Coughlan is Associate Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Trinity College Dublin.

Former Irish President outrages her people with sectarian insult

  
Independent member of the Irish parliament, Mattie McGrath, has called on former President Mary McAleese to desist from characterising those advocating a No vote in the same sex marriage referendum as homophobic or bigoted. Deputy McGrath made his comments after Mrs McAleese yesterday referred to the “bog standard, Irish Catholic attitude to gay people,” as one full of bias and prejudice

“I think the kind of language that was used by Mary McAleese yesterday is incredibly offensive and patronising in the extreme”, McGrath said.
“To characterise a traditional view, even if one legitimately disagrees with that view, in such a grossly hurtful way is beneath the great dignity that one would normally associate with her. 

Referring to another notorious intervention in the debate last week by a psychologist, Maureen Gaffney, supporting the Yes campaign, the Deputy said, “It seems however that over the top and absurd descriptions are becoming par for the course since Dr Gaffney described those on the No side as morally equivalent to Nazi’s.” 

McGrath said he was alarmed that she has seen fit, as a member of the Council of State – a position she holds ex officio as a former President – to make such high profile and derogatory interventions with little or no regard to how that role will be undermined. 

“I accept entirely that as a mother of a gay son she is passionate about this issue, as we all are for different reasons, but that does not give us carte blanche  to use this kind of demeaning language. 

McGrath complained that McAleese has breached  “a long, noble and well established precedent for former Presidential Office Holders to maintain a prudent discretion about Government policy. 

“In contrast to Mrs McAleese we have heard nothing from former President Mary Robinson, who on the face of it is far more qualified to offer guidance on this matter given her role as UN Human Rights High Commissioner and who could confirm that no ‘right’ to marry a person of the same sex exists in UN Declarations or Protocols. 

He called on McAleese  “to immediately withdraw her remarks about bog standard catholic views, which if they were spoken in the north of Ireland could easily be characterised as sectarian and divisive”  

Two men who spoke up for children and defied the gender ideology establishment

The testimonies of two men which every voter should see before going out to the polling station in Ireland next Friday.

Keith Mills believes that it’s important for him, as a gay man, to speak out about his belief that children deserve a mother and a father whenever the circumstances of life allow, since too many people are being bullied into silence. He explains that the referendum is not about equality because already, through civil partnerships, we have a means of giving gay couples legal protection and recognition – in a ceremony that is almost identical to civil marriage, right down to saying the words “I do”.
Furthermore, Paddy Manning points out that a gay or lesbian relationship is simply a different thing to a marriage. “Marriage is, at its heart, about children and providing those children with their biological parents. Recognising difference is not discrimination.”

Keith agrees that the referendum is about children “because everyone knows marriage IS almost always about children – and because the government wants to change the section of the Constitution on the family.” But in order to have children, gay men like him either need to adopt or to use surrogacy. Surrogacy, he says, “turns children into commodities, putting adult desires above the rights of children, having babies made to order and wombs for rent.” If the referendum passes, as Mr Justice Kevin Cross, Chairman of the independent Referendum Commission, confirmed last week, it will make it very difficult for Irish law to give preference to motherhood and fatherhood compared with having two parents of the same sex.

A Yes vote pretends there is no “distinction” between the union of two men or two women and the union of a man and a woman. It also says it doesn’t matter if a child is deliberately deprived of either a father or a mother.

What will they do?

WILL THEY TURN THEIR BACK ON REASONED ARGUMENTS AND VOTE JUST WITH THE HEART?

I know enough young people who see through the Government’s fallacious “equality” spin to save me from total despair about the apparent incapacity of under-thirties to discern this deception. But it is a hard call.

People have equal rights because they share the same human nature, not because they share the same capacities – which they very evidently do not. The rights which they have to participate in some of the joys of life depend on their capacities, not on their equality as citizens, or their common human dignity. If I cannot sing more than one note it makes little sense for me to protest that I am being denied equality if I fail to make it into the local choral society. Okay, that’s not an exact analogy. I suppose I have a right to form a choir of tone-deaf people if that pleases me. But it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

Love – as an emotional experience, which is the kind of love everyone seems to be taking about in the context of Ireland’s referendum next Friday, – is not in law a requirement for a valid marriage. Marriages exist without this emotional love, and always have done. Marriages may even exist without the deeper love of selfless commitment. The may not be considered the ideal, but they are still marriages without it. What is the essential element in marriage, what is that which consummates it? In other words, what is that which makes it a real valid marriage? It is what we call the marriage act. That act is only possible between one man and one woman.

In today’s Sunday Times, Conor Brady, former editor of the Irish Times, is posing the question that everyone should at least be asking themselves.

We are forced into a crude choice. A ‘yes’ vote will be hailed as generous and inclusive, but it will subvert the meaning of language. It will redefine an institution that has been fundamental to society down the ages, and it will purport to hold that biological differences mean nothing. Conversely a ‘no’ vote will be interpreted as discriminatory and an endorsement of inequality. Presented with these alternatives, each voter has to choose what seems to be the lesser evil. A great many people, including myself, have yet to decide what that may be.

Bruce Arnold, in today’s Sunday Business Post says “A yes vote will bring irrational chaos into the Constitution”

“Ireland has been told that ‘Same Sex Marriage” is a human right. No nation’s constitution, no international human rights convention has accepted this”. This debate, he adds, “has been bedeviled by emotional and even hysterical demands for an empty ‘equality’ for some, with no consideration given to the consequences for others, least of all for children”.

Add to this the apparent bewilderment of University College Cork’s Emeritus Professor of History, John A. Murphy, voiced last week in the Irish Times.

Thus, if the referendum is passed, Article 41, heretofore unambiguously and exclusively heterosexual, will also recognise a homosexual couple “as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society . . . a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights , antecedent and superior to all positive law”. Moreover such a couple will be guaranteed protection by the State “as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State” (Article 1.2).

Because I reject this grotesque nonsense, I will be voting No.

That the bulk of a whole generation has found it impossible to see these distinctions is bewildering and – almost – brings one to the point of despair. That the future of our world might be in the hands of people who cannot see this is truly worrying.

Please, please convince me that I am not seeing unfold before me what I think see. Surely millennials, so-called generation Y, on which so much depends, will show us that they are capable of more than blind and blinding emotion, surely they will show us that enough of them are capable of reasoning and assure us of our future.

An eloquent call to the Christian conscience on question of future of marriage

One of Ireland’s Catholic bishops this evening preached in his cathedral in Sligo, calling for a free and responsible reflection on the vital question facing Ireland’s citizens next Friday in the country’s referendum on marriage. The call comes as three new opinion polls on the likely result of the referendum show further slippage in inittialy strong support for the Government’ s proposal to redefine marriage. One newspaper describes the support as “plummeting”.

The opposition to the proposal, centering largely on the belief that it will result in bad laws leading to children – through surrogacy, assisted human reproduction and adoptions – being deprived of the knowledge and love of their biological parents. Mothers and Fathers Matter is the cri de coeur of the campaign.

Every citizen and long-term resident has a vested interest in how society defines and protects marriage and the family founded on marriage, said Dr.Kevin Doran
Bishop of Elphin, As Christians, you HAVE received the Holy Spirit. You are called to exercise the gifts of wisdom and right judgement and to be witnesses to Jesus Christ. As citizens, you are the people with the vote and you have a responsibility to use it, for the common good. Nobody else can exercise that responsibility on your behalf.

I would hope that, over the past few months, you have thought carefully about this question and that you have also reflected on the content of the two statements issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops, one before Christmas and the other in March. If you have not read them, then I believe you should do so before Friday. You can get copies of them either here in the Church or online.

There are a few points that I would ask you to consider carefully in making your own decision before God.

1. The Constitution is the document which underpins our whole legal system. To define marriage in the Constitution as a relationship between two people without distinction as to their sex, would be a major change. It would mean that family law could no longer give preference to a mother and father relationship as the form of parenthood best suited to the needs of children. It would make it increasingly difficult to speak in public about marriage being between a man and a woman. In the absence of any conscience clause, I would be concerned, for example, at what teachers might be expected to teach our children.

2. I would ask you to consider carefully how a same sex union, however loving, can be said to be the same as marriage. It is true, of course, that all people are equal. Reason, however, points to the truth about human sexuality that makes the relationship of man and woman unique. This uniqueness has been recognised in every culture and has always been associated with the openness of marriage to the gift of life. That is why society has always sought to “guard with special care the institution of marriage”. Why would we suddenly want to change that now?

3. During these past few months, many commentators have described same-sex marriage as a human right. I would ask you to take account of the fact that the European Court of Human Rights, which is not a religious organisation, issued a statement only last Summer making it clear that same-sex marriage is not a human right.

There is one final point that I want to make. It comes straight from our second reading[1] this Sunday. St. Paul encourages the people of Ephesus: “to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together”. We need to acknowledge that the issue of same sex-relationship is a reality for many in our society and, among them, families in our own parishes. We need to remember that we are “all called into one and the same hope”. This is a challenge for the Church, both now and for the years ahead.

As far as the referendum is concerned, however, I believe that the truth is quite clear. I also believe, quite honestly, that society can respond to the human rights of all who live together in committed relationships, without changing the meaning of marriage.

I encourage you to reflect carefully, to pray for wisdom from God’s Spirit and then to go out and vote on Friday.

The ‘spiral of silence’ which makes Ireland’s referendum result unpredictable

  

Frank Furedi in Spiked.com reflects on the deeper reasons which might lie behind the collapse of the opinion polls’ authority and reliability in the British General Election. There was nothing wrong with their system of polling. The source of the problem the pollsters now have is the fear, distrust and uncertainty the people have in relation to each other and the bureaucratic idepolgy which is dominating their lives. What he say of Britain may well be reflected to an even higher degree in the outcome of Ireland’s marriage referendum which takes place this day week.

The pressure to conform and the fear of social isolation can lead to what the German social scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann identified in 1974 as a ‘spiral of silence’. According to this theory, people’s assessment of the opinions held by the majority influences and modifies the way they express their own views. Some individuals feel anxious about expressing sentiments that differ from the consensus outlook, as expressed in the political and media realm, and it is thought that, ‘prompted by a “fear of social isolation”’, some are ‘less likely to express their own viewpoint when they believe their opinions and ideas are in the minority’. Typically, the fear of negative social sanctions influences the way people express attitudes about numerous morally charged ‘threats’, such as foreigners, crime or terrorism.

Of course, in virtually every social setting there is always an element of self-censorship. But in contemporary Britain, the all-too-understandable impulse to conform is continually reinforced by the message ‘You can’t say that!’. Regrettably, the only time these insecure voices feel confident enough to express their true opinions is in the secrecy of the polling booth. This is why, from time to time, a seemingly predictable election campaign can result in a surprising outcome.

Sadly, significant sections of the political and cultural establishment would rather that the people always felt that ‘We are not allowed to say that’. This is the 21st-century version of the old oligarchical ideal, ‘Know your place’. Which is why fighting for a culture of tolerance and open debate, and above all for freedom of speech, is so important today.


This tweet says a great deal about this – from the brother of a star footballer who dared to put pen to paper explaining his reasoned convictions which are making him defend marriage as we have known it from time immemorial:

  


Read all Frank Furedi has to say here.