Impact of Civil Partnership Bill

Tue, Jul 6, 2010, 01:00

Madam, – David Nelson (July 5th) claims that it is reasonable to expect in a democracy that the opinions of the Pope should be listened to, especially since more than 50 per cent of the population is Catholic.

He then quotes an official church document declaring that when legislation “in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it”.

This document’s rationale is not democratic at all. The vast majority of Irish citizens support gay marriage, and any lawmaker who ignores this reality simply because he chooses to prioritise his religion over his country is unfit to hold office in our Dáil.

To paraphrase John F Kennedy, our law-makers must remember that they are not Catholic law-makers. They are law-makers who just happen to be Catholic. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN JAMES O’MAHONY,

St Mary’s Road,

Lafayette,

California, US.

Madam, – David Nelson questions the justice of a law that criminalises discrimination (July 5th). It is time that Mr Nelson realised that ancient beliefs are not necessarily right, and this will continue to be true no matter how many millions claim to support these beliefs. – Yours, etc,

GREG SCANLON,

Ballycasey Manor,

Shannon, Co Clare.

Madam, – The people outraged at the prospect of children being raised by gay parents would be wise to read the Civil Partnership Bill and realise that it does not sanction gay adoption or parenting. It allows two people of the same-sex to enter into a civil partnership. Further, despite the absence of legislation on the issue, gay parents are raising children in Ireland and will continue to do so by virtue of surrogate mothers or sperm donors or those situations where a child born into a heterosexual family unit now lives with one of his or her birth parents and that person’s same-sex partner. Why are people so reluctant to accept an increasing social reality? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN TOBIN,

Collins Avenue, Waterford.

Madam, – Your correspondence on the Civil Partnership Bill has revealed a depressing level of bigotry amongst your readership. I refer, of course, to the bigotry towards the hundreds of millions of people who existed on this planet before us, the vast majority of whom would surely have regarded this legislation as insane.

It is a prime example of what CS Lewis called “chronological snobbery”. What a prodigious generation we are, to have suddenly realised the wrong-headedness of so many centuries of human civilisation! It is also further proof that liberalism is not some kind of neutral space in which different views of life can flourish, but is in fact an imposition of a particular value system on all of society, one which becomes more and more totalitarian as time passes. The battering-ram of anti-discrimination and equality legislation, powered by the EU, will be the weapon of choice to pulverise tradition. We must not only listen to Nero play; we must applaud him.

This measure is hailed as part of the progressive agenda, but those who hail it as such should realise they are signing a blank cheque. What seemed ridiculous to their grandparents seems like natural justice to them. But where does the re-imagining of norms end? Will compulsory vegetarianism be on the agenda in 50 years? Will children be seized from parents with reactionary opinions? Now the pressure is on for men, if they so wish, to be legally considered women, will we eventually see the creation of new sexes unknown to biology, each demanding formal recognition? It doesn’t seem so far-fetched to me. – Yours, etc,

MAOLSHEACHLANN

O CEALLAIGH,

Sillogue Gardens,

Ballymun,

Dublin 11.

Madam, – Rejoicing over the Dáil’s unanimous vote in favour of the above Bill may have been premature. The bold presumption of the Bill is that it does not contravene Article 41.3.1 which obliges the State “To guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack”. We are told that the Government’s view is based on legal advice, none of which has been quoted or attributed and therefore not subject to independent scrutiny and challenge. The measure is, in any case, flawed in its own terms: while purporting to remedy an alleged inequality, it introduces a new form of discrimination, that between same-sex couples who are homosexual and those who are not so inclined.

Article 44.2.1 states: “Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen”. Yet, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern constantly repeated that no protection is allowed to any persons who, for conscientious reasons, feel they cannot co-operate with implementing the Bill and its associated equality legislation. Instead, severe punishment is prescribed and probable loss of office by public officials. A conscientious opt-out clause has to be implicit in the Civil Partnership Bill, otherwise statute law takes precedence over our Constitution, which is unacceptable.

The Bill is surely a case for reference to the Supreme Court by the President before she signs it. – Yours, etc,

DONAL NUNAN,

Cork Road,

Mallow, Co Cork.


A chara, – I wish to thank David Nelson for drawing our attention to some of the older, staler, but no less pungent anti-gay Vatican rhetoric (July 5th).

Those words approved by John Paul II are a timely reminder of how the institutional Catholic Church was and remains a threat to democracy and good governance in a civilised society. If we are to listen, it should surely be with an attitude of vigilance and scepticism.

Much better that we listen to ordinary decent Irish Catholics who, in poll after poll, have indicated overwhelming support for recognising the relationships of committed same-sex couples and their families.

Civilised societies abhor discrimination, and rightly forbid it in the public sphere. Mr Nelson doesn’t mention his line of work, but if he wishes to remain free of a criminal record, he need only treat all comers with the dignity and respect deserving of every fellow human and citizen, and he will not fall foul of laws that protect us all. – Is mise,

PÓL Ó CIONNAITH,

Kenilworth Park,

Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W.