Gay “Marriage” Now Threatens Ireland

On May 22 the Irish electorate will vote on a proposed amendment to the national constitution that would allow marriage to “be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

Remarkably the proposed amendment allowing same-sex “marriage” has received the endorsement of all major Irish political parties, the governing coalition parties—Fine Gael and Labour—and the leading opposition parties—Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin—as well as various smaller independent groupings.

Interestingly, there was virtually no debate when the measure was considered by Dáil Éireann—the national legislature—and consent was given by voice vote, which suggests less enthusiasm on the part of backbenchers and rank and file members.

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The pro-amendment campaign has amassed a substantial war chest of over seven hundred thousand euros, a large portion from the political parties, exceeding the funds available to the “No” side by more than half a million.

A major argument of the “Yes” side is that the “No” position reflects homophobia. Some “Yes” advocates say the fairness rules governing radio and television proceedings, including debates, should restrict “No” presentations on the grounds that they are “hateful.”

One letter writer to a major newspaper argued, tolerance should not be extended to “intolerance.” In other words, the approval of the amendment should be considered beyond debate.

If the measure passes, Ireland will be the first European country approving such by means of a referendum. Some countries, like the United Kingdom, France, and Spain have allowed it as a consequence of legislation, and more recently, judicial decree has permitted it in Slovenia.

The court room has been the path advancing same-sex “marriage” in many American states, as some federal and state courts have overturned existing plebiscitary rejections. Lawsuits seeking approval of such on the constitutional issue of human rights have failed to win judicial acceptance in Ireland, even though the country has judicial review.

The spirit and wording of the Irish Constitution and its Article 41 dealing with the family give little grounds to justify what is being advance in the new amendment.

The Preamble invokes “the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred.”

Article 41 asserts: “The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

In other words, the Family is superior to all positive law, even the Constitution!

The same article insists the State “guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.” and “pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

Admittedly an amendment passed by plebiscite in late 1995 allowed marital dissolution (significantly the word divorce was not used) after the couple had “lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during the previous five years” dating from the beginnings of the proceedings.

The advocates for the new amendment would argue that the Constitution, especially its preamble and references to the family, reflect attitudes that are outdated and comparable to laws in some of the United States that had not allowed interracial marriage.

But that American legislation was based on racial bias and had no connection with the historic and cultural nature of marriage, whereas opposition to same-sex “marriage” is based on its being contradictory to the very definition of marriage and of the capacity to generate new life.

Recent Irish law does recognize Civil Relationships whereby survival rights, next-of-kinship, property ownership, etc. can be extended to unmarried people living together. But this legislation should apply to brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, roommates, all of same or different sex, and have no inherent connection with the sexual rationale for marriage.

Other legislation eases the conditions for adoption, allowing it by single people and unmarried couples. Naturally the passage of the amendment would inhibit any restrictions on adoption by same-sex couples, a major reason many oppose it.

Were this amendment to be passed there seems no reason to doubt that it might well be followed by amendments allowing marriages of more than two persons, whether of the same, opposite, or mixed sex.

The “Yes” side refers to the failure of so many conventional marriages to bear children, or to inadequately rear children. It also celebrates the increasing use of unconventional methods of conceiving and bearing children (surrogate mothers, donor eggs and sperm).

The latter thought suggests an almost Orwellian future of children being “manufactured, customized, and being bought and sold” for what had been viewed as the Isle of Saints and Scholars.


  • John P. McCarthy

    John P. McCarthy is Professor Emeritus of History and former director of the Institute of Irish Studies at Fordham University. He is the author of Hilaire Belloc: Edwardian Radical (1978); Kevin O’Higgins: Builder of the Irish State (2006); and Twenty-first Century Ireland: A View from America (2012).

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