Debate on same-sex marriage
Madam, - In response to the letters from Brian Connolly, Joan Courtney and Frances Byrne (February 28th) criticising my stance on marriage, the following point might help clarify matters for readers.
With respect to family policy, society and the State have a fateful choice before them. Broadly speaking they must choose between the following options. The first is to remain persuaded that the family based on the marriage between a man and a woman is the best environment, in general, in which to raise children and that for this reason it should continue to receive special support.
The second option is for the State to give equal support to adults and children no matter what form of family they find themselves in. In other words, the State should no longer favour marriage over other family forms.
Of course, it is possible to favour marriage in its present form while at the same time helping all families in need; and this is the position I support.
However, I also believe that there are compelling reasons to continue giving marriage between a man and a woman the special support of the State.
Contrary to what Brian Connolly says, the fact is that there are very many studies which confirm the common sense intuition that children tend to do best when raised by their two biological parents. This is something even Unicef, not known for its conservatism, now broadly accepts (Report Card No 7: Child Poverty in Perspective).
In addition, the University of Uppsala in Sweden has issued a report confirming the importance of fathers and father figures for child development.(Fathers' involvement and children's developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Sarkadi et al. Acta Paediatrica, 97.2, pp 153-158. February 2008).
Frances Byrne and Joan Courtney find it offensive that I should equate same-sex couples raising children with other combinations of adults raising children. I fail to see why. Perhaps it is because a lesbian couple raising a child are in a sexual relationship whereas two sisters, say, raising a child are not? We should bear in mind that the State's interest in marriage between heterosexual couples has nothing to do with sex per se, but rather in what sex between married couples usually leads to, namely children. - Yours, etc,
Prof PATRICIA CASEY,
Madam, - Why is it that those people who want to promote child-raising by gay couples as being equal to child-raising by heterosexual couples keep dragging in lone parents to boost their own flimsy arguments? Using the argument that a child raised by a lone parent has the same chances in life as one raised in "traditional" family is surely insulting to those lone parents, as they probably have to work twice as hard and make many sacrifices to achieve this than two parents in a traditional family who can share this responsibility.
The world is not an equal place, no matter how much you try and pretend it is. - Yours, etc,