State failed to protect ‘God factor’ in marriage vote, court told

Gerry Walshe seeking to overturn result of same-sex marriage referendum

A man seeking to overturn the same sex marriage referendum result has argued the State, in advocating a Yes vote, failed to protect the family, the “special position” of women in the home and the “God factor” in the Constitution.

The Constitution requires the State to protect the family as an institution based on marriage between a man and woman for the purpose of having children but the State failed to do so in proposing a constitutional amendment allowing for same sex marriage, Gerry Walshe submitted to the Court of Appeal.

The Constitution states the Government receives its powers under God with the effect the “God factor” must be considered in any amendment of the Constitution, he submitted. The Government could not bring any amendment contrary to God’s law and it was clear what the Christian stance on the referendum proposal was, he added.

The three judge Court of Appeal has begun hearing Mr Walshe’s appeal against the High Court’s refusal to grant him permission to bring a petition challenging the Yes result of the May 22nd referendum.


The proposal allowing for same sex marriage was supported by 62.07 per cent of voters, 1,201,607 people, while 734,300 (37.93 per cent) voted against. Voter turnout was 60.52 per cent.

Opening his appeal, Mr Walshe, an electrician of Lisdeen, Co Clare, said he is "not anti-gay" and has gay friends but was concerned the electorate was not adequately informed about the referendum proposal prior to voting in the referendum.

Mr Walshe said he is “a gentleman of Ireland” who was bringing his application as “the voice of the people” and as a person affected by unconstitutional behaviour or organs of the State.

He argued information distributed by the Government to the electorate about the proposal was “misleading” and “biased”. He was concerned elderly people may not have had the necessary computer skills to access relevant information about the proposal, he said.

He had sought but not secured information about the funds spent on the Yes campaign, he also argued. Various media reports suggested millions of euros were provided by various bodies to secure a Yes result, he submitted.

He said the Constitution recognises the family as a moral institution possessing inalienable and superior rights and provides the State guarantees to protect the family as an institution indispensable to the welfare of the State.

He referred to the constitutional recognition of the special position of women in the home and argued Article 41 recognises the family as based on marriage between a man and woman for the purpose of having children.

The family is the main structural support of society and the State was not entitled to remove mothers and children from that structure without first conducting extensive studies as to the impact of that, he said. The State respondents have failed to show the referendum is in the best interests of the people.

He told the court he believed the electorate was unduly affected by the alleged unconstitutional behaviour of the State respondents and were not adequately informed about the proposal. He also believed the support for the referendum from the Garda Representative Association compromised the democratic process and materially influenced the outcome.

He also argued he was denied ample time by the High Court to review some 1,000 documents related to the referendum campaign.

The appeal continues.

A separate appeal Mr Maurice Lyons, with an address at Callan, Co Kilkenny, against the High Court's refusal to grant him permission to bring a petition challenging the referendum outcome is due to be heard later on Thursday.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times