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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ireland's Flirtation with Cultural Suicide

Iona Institute claims referendum could change adoption laws
Group says Yes vote would result in ‘profound changes’ 
to legal view of family
File photograph of David Quinn  of the Iona Institute (centre) speaking with
David Fieldsend & Conor Lenihan outside Buswells Hotel. Photo: David Sleator
The Iona Institute has said a legal opinion it commissioned on the same-sex marriage referendum found that the ability to distinguish between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in adoption cases will be “wholly undermined” if it passes.

The organisation, which is campaigning for a No vote in the marriage referendum on May 22nd, has argued that a Yes vote would mean “profound changes” in how the family is viewed under law.

Iona Institute director David Quinn said the legal opinion by Michael Collins SC and Paul Brady BL came to “very significant” conclusions relating to the current debate on same-sex marriage.

Mr Quinn said the opinion was confined to an analysis of the legal implications of the proposed amendment and did not express any view on the merits of the amendment itself.

“It shows that any ability to lawfully distinguish between same-sex and opposite-sex couples for purposes such as adoption etc will be severely and probably wholly undermined,” Mr Quinn said.

“In other words, if Article 41 is changed as is proposed, it would become constitutionally more difficult to reflect in our laws the view that married men and women are different from two married people of the same sex in matters concerning the raising and welfare of children.”

The cabinet in February approved the Children and Family Relationships Bill, allowing for adoption by same-sex couples. The bill subsequently became law.

Mr Quinn said the recently-passed Children and Family Relationships Act permitted same-sex couples to adopt and use assisted human reproduction on the same terms as married men and women, “despite the fact that two men or two women can never give a child a mother and a father”.
For the consequences of that see, Daughter of Lesbians - The Kids are Not Alright!

He claimed the proposed Constitutional amendment, if passed, would make it harder for a future Government to reverse aspects of the Children and Family Relationships Act.

This will be a nightmare when they find out that gay parenting doesn't work and decide (too late) to protect the children. 

Zappone Worried About Outcome

A prominent campaigner for a Yes vote in the forthcoming same-sex marriage referendum has said she is “worried” about the outcome of the vote.

Independent Senator Katherine Zappone today described the No side’s campaign as “very clever” and “very challenging”. It's hard to argue with the truth.

Senator Katherine Zappone worried about outcome
Speaking on her experience canvassing for a Yes vote, Ms Zappone said: “I’m worried because it’s hard for a good number of people I’m talking to to actually move beyond that traditional concept of family.”

There is a very good reason for that Katherine. Read the bottom article. You should be far more worried about a YES outcome than a NO.

Councils across the State have reported busy days ahead of today’s deadline to register to vote in the forthcoming referendums. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA WireVoter registration deadline sees late surge in applications

However, Ms Zappone said she believed the Yes side would win on May 22nd if people’s concerns were addressed.

Ms Zappone said: “It’s no longer time to be giving out pat messages. It’s about hearing people’s concerns.

“The very small number of same-sex couples who will ultimately or currently have children will do just as good a job.” And that is documented, where? Or is that an off-the-cuff opinion based on your 'feelings'? See link above!

‘Children as weapons’

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter also entered the debate on the referendum this week, claiming that the No side were using children as weapons.

Does that mean that they are actually considering the welfare of the children? And does it mean that you think that considering the welfare of the children is unfair, or playing dirty? In the wake of the extraordinary exposure of child sex abuse, and the almost complete lack of concern by former authorities about their welfare, this would be a real tragedy worthy of a National Inquiry 60 years down the road, when it is far too late to save the children, again.

Voters will be asked on May 22nd if they agree with the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the Thirty-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015.

Sports Celebs Support "YES"

GAA, rugby and athletics stars have teamed up to call for a Yes vote in the samre-sex marriage referendum on May 22nd.

Cork hurler Donal Og Cusack, Mayo footballer Aidan O’Shea, Irish rugby player Peter O’Mahony and athletics star Derval O’Rourke are supporting the Yes campaign.

Peter O'Mahoney supporting YES vote
The athletes all feature in a 45 second video launched by Yes Equality at the Triskel Christchurch in Cork.

All-Ireland winning hurler Og Cusack, who came out while still playing hurling for Cork, spoke about the importance of same-sex marriage.

“From a personal point of view, a Yes vote would mean a lot. I came up in a time through secondary school when it was illegal to be gay. Things have changed a lot since then.

“I always keep this image in my head of a young sports person who is growing up gay, and I think what a wonderful message it sends out to them to say it’s okay to be who you are. “

Until you stand before God and find out that that is not really who you were.

The launch was also attended by Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney who said those with a traditional view of marriage have nothing to fear from a Yes vote.

Mr Coveney, the Minister for Agriculture, said the referendum was simply about extending the same marital rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples to people who have hitherto been excluded from marriage.

Which I have no problem with. It is the right for them to adopt children that is just wrong.

Speaking earlier, Mr Coveney responded to comments by Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin that the traditional view of marriage was “special and unique”.

Archbishop Martin said a Yes vote would lead to “a very definite break with human history and with the natural institution of marriage” which he said was “worth protecting”.

But Mr Coveney said that as a practising Catholic, he did not see extending the right to marry to homosexual couples as a threat to the traditional view of marriage. See bottom article.

“I take my faith seriously. I am a regular massgoer. I don’t think this should be an issue that Catholics are uncomfortable with,” Mr Coveney told the Evening Echo.

“It’s about compassion, generosity and support for a section of society that has essentially been discriminated against by the State – these are very Christian values.

“It’s about recognising equality and reaching out to a group of people who are looking for recognition.... This is a chance for us to say that modern Ireland values everyone.”

Everyone except children, apparently.

Conservatives criticized

So, this week’s battlefield in the culture war is a cake decorated with pictures of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. The verdict in the Belfast “gay cake” case is expected on Thursday. Whatever it may be, the case tells us that religious conservatives have a point. And it tells us the point is much more troubling for themselves than they think.

Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie
Grotesquely claimed by gays as one of their own. Photograph: Getty Images
The cake was ordered from the Belfast branch of Ashers bakery chain last year by a gayrights activist. It was to feature at a function organised by Queerspace in Bangor, Co Down, to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. As well as the Sesame Street characters, the icing was to have the Queerspace logo and the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The evangelical Christian McArthur family, who own the bakery, refused the order because it would be “at odds with our beliefs”. The activist complained to the Equality Authority, which took the McArthurs to court.

The case dovetails with a wider argument from conservatives: that same-sex marriage threatens religious freedom. This argument is telling in itself. Why have religious groups taken up so fervently the idea that their freedom of conscience comes down in practice to the right to refuse services that might legitimise same-sex marriage?

Have you ever heard of 'God'?

Because they’ve failed in their main arguments. To oppose equality for a minority, you have to be able to show that some terrible harm to the majority would result from it. And this just hasn’t been possible. Courts and parliaments around the democratic world have looked at the evidence and found there is simply no case to be made that allowing a same-sex couple to marry causes harm to an opposite sex marriage. Hence, the second line of defence: same- sex marriage is bad because it threatens the religious freedom of people for whom it is anathema.

Your above argument assumes that there is no God, or that He is largely irrelevant. You won't believe me, but I assure you He is, and He is relevant. He was relevant to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah whose embrace of homosexuality was repugnant, perverse and an abomination to Him. He decided that those cities were worthy of complete annihilation because of it. And guess what? God does not change! He does not evolve, and He has not become more permissible because the world has become more modern. 

And, as the battle of the cake demonstrates, this is not an entirely self-serving argument. It is in fact crazy that the McArthurs were taken to court for not agreeing to make a cake with a slogan that they find objectionable. “Support Gay Marriage” is an act of expression, and free expression is a basic democratic value. It doesn’t just mean that, within reason, you can say what you want to say but also that you cannot be forced to say what you don’t want to say. So yes, a baker has a right not to bake a cake that expresses support for gay marriage and a priest or pastor has a right not to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. For the law to suggest otherwise is foolish and intolerant and it does the cause of equality no favours.

There’s a big difference between outlawing discrimination on the one hand and forcing people to express support for things they don’t believe in on the other. No one should be forced against their conscience to participate in, or support, a same-sex marriage.

Equal citizens

But – and here’s where the argument reaches its limits – this has nothing in itself to do with religion. The McArthurs should have the right not to bake that cake, not because they’re Christians, but because they’re equal citizens in a rights-bound democracy. Religious belief is a terrible basis for deciding who has what rights or who can opt out of what law. Why? Because anyone can hold a sincere religious belief about anything. Religious belief can sanction everything from Quaker pacificism to jihadist terrorism, profound commitment to human equality to profound contempt for women, nonbelievers or lower castes. As the US Supreme Court put it in 1990, allowing people to opt out on religious grounds effectively creates “a private right to ignore generally applicable laws” and would thus “permit every citizen to become a law unto himself”.

If religious conservatives have a right not to be pushed around by the State, it’s not because they’re special or because their faith makes them superior. It’s because of equality. Being an equal citizen of a democracy means not being subject to the arbitrary will of any other citizen or group of citizens. It means it doesn’t matter whether people like you or agree with your “lifestyle” or find your views congenial. And this isn’t just a matter of law – it’s a matter of having a civic culture in which people respect difference and cut one another some slack. That goes for religious conservatives as much as for everyone else.

Want to have things both ways

The problem is that religious conservatives have a hard time recognising this. They want to have things both ways, to appeal to a culture of equality and respect for difference while insisting on legal inequality and institutionalised discrimination. They want sympathy for being a persecuted minority without themselves showing any sympathy for minorities who have been persecuted for centuries. They want to claim rights for themselves that they will not concede to others.

Your excellent analysis misses on one point - Christians, and other religions, believe that homosexual sex is a sin against God and man. For us, there is little difference between gays and pedophiles except the age of their victims. I know you are stuck on that term 'victims', but we see it, or at least, I see the spectacular proliferation of homosexuality in this century as a form of seduction - even 'grooming"!

Like the million or so young teenage girls in the UK who are groomed and seduced by older men only to be prostituted, young people are groomed by the media, governments, teachers, and liberal minded stars of movies, music and sports, into believing that homosexuality is perfectly natural, and that you may have been born that way.

There is no scientific proof that anyone was ever born gay. In fact genetics researchers, even gay ones, now believe that the majority of gays are gay because of environmental factors in their childhood - very dominant mother, very weak father, distant or unknown father, abusive father, etc.

There is no gay gene!

But those who believe in equality have to rise above anger at this hypocrisy. Who wants to eat a cake that’s not made with love? Who wants to be married by someone who hates your union? Let the sourpusses be.

'YES' Vote Will Change Human Nature

The marriage referendum is about changing marriage from a union of a man and a woman into the union of two adults regardless of gender who desire a lifelong commitment. Up to a few decades ago, the meaning of marriage as the union of two complementary sexes open to procreation has been unquestioned. In four weeks’ time, it will be voted on and a majority opinion will determine whether one of the most natural aspects of humanity is going to be changed to suit a certain interpretation of equality.

As a people, we generally tend to be gentle, humane and loving. It is to this national characteristic, nurtured by its underlying Christian ethos, that the current political and media establishment is appealing.

The ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the Government and urged on by the media, is appealing to our emotions. The presentation of equality for persons who are gay touches the heartstrings of all, but especially the older generation. In this writer’s opinion, this has had at least one positive result. It has helped to counter negative attitudes to same-sex people as persons of inherent dignity. Empathy is replacing what was at best nervous distance, at worse real homophobia. And that is good and welcome.

But there is an unpleasant undercurrent, that of intimidation. People who, in their heart of hearts, cannot equate same-sex unions with marriage fear being accused of homophobia. The few who dare to express their views in public have experienced an onslaught in social media. The most intimidated of all seem to be our elected representatives. It is incredible that the political parties have imposed the whip to get their members to support the “Yes” vote. All but one Senator submitted.

Is the Catholic hierarchy also intimidated? The bishops will be anxious not to turn the referendum into a Church-State issue or to cause more offence to those most affected. Some bishops and priests are addressing their faithful directly in church; that is their right and duty. But Church encompasses more than the hierarchy, namely the laity.

Irish people resent being bullied by either Church or State. Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”. For over a year, the campaign waged by the Government urged on by the media has been relentless. In the final weeks, reason may triumph over emotion. As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change? The simple answer is: human nature.

This referendum touches the very source of our humanity. Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society. Past and future converge in the family. Through marriage, future generations come into being. A nation’s culture is passed on primarily through the family. Since the dawn of time, the union of man and woman was simply assumed to be the origin of the family. This is what we are being asked to change.

This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family. This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy. The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people. The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included.

Though it is not primarily the State that is seeking to redefine marriage and thus the family, our Government is proposing that we introduce a profound contradiction into the heart of the Constitution. Instead of the Constitution’s recognition of the family as having “inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law”, the family based on marriage is being made subservient to the State. The notion of inalienable rights is often interpreted in legal circles as rights which one cannot oneself give up but they are in fact rights which are not given by the State; the State is under obligation to protect them. These non-negotiable rights are the measure of all positive law — legislative or constitutional – because they arise from our common human nature, created by God. This is recognised by Article 6 of the Irish Constitution, which states that “All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people”. The moral demands of our common human nature are known through conscience, the voice of God in our heart of hearts, if we but listen to it.

D. Vincent Twomey SVD is author of The End of Irish Catholicism?, Moral Theology after Humanae Vitae