Marriage referendum

 

Sir, – The cantankerous and the idiotic are already limbering up for the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage.

The current clamour centres on the right of a child to a mother and father. Biologically a child can only be borne of a mother and father so the concept of a right in this context is self-evidently fatuous. The role parents subsequently play in their child’s life is another matter entirely and society has a surfeit of examples of mothers and fathers failing often and badly in responsibly rearing their offspring to adulthood while untold silent numbers strive courageously and succeed heroically.

Woolly-headed obfuscation serves too often as a foil to derail open and honest debate, yet neatly serves to expose the hypocrisy of those moral conservatives who, for all their panicked consternation towards same-sex marriage, have rarely troubled themselves with societal failings with regard to children of heterosexual relationships; their right to know, and be publicly acknowledged by both parents, not to be abandoned, to be cared for emotionally and supported financially by their parents – rights which any society should cherish and invoke for its children and ones unrelated to the question of whether two consenting adults have a right to marry. – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA MULKEEN,

Ballinfull,

Sligo.

Sir, – I don’t think people mean anything by it, and perhaps it’s just people thinking that they are making the issue clearer, but can we please stop referring to the upcoming referendum as one on either “gay marriage” or “same-sex” marriage? Or for that matter, referring to pending adoption legislation as dealing with “gay adoption”.

The electorate needs to understand that it is not being asked to introduce some new form of civil marriage or adoption. It’s exactly the same civil marriage process, the same civil marriage ceremony, the same civil marriage licence, the same civil marriage registrar and venue. All we are being asked to do is extend those exact same rights to marry as enjoyed by straight couples to same-sex couples.

Similarly, the Children and Family Relationships Bill simply seeks, among other things, to allow couples, who happen to be of the same sex, to apply to adopt a child, or children. The legislation allows for gay couples to have exactly the same chances of being allowed to adopt, or be refused to adopt, a child or children by exactly the same criteria as straight couples. The referendum, and the aforementioned adoption legislation, seek to make our society more equal for all citizens regardless of whether they be straight or gay. – Yours, etc,

DAVID WILKINS,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – A major reason why I will be unable to support the wording on same-sex marriage that the Government has proposed for insertion into the Constitution in the event of a referendum being passed by the Irish electorate this May is that the wording, in addition to the Children and Family Relationships Bill, completely disregards and impedes a child’s natural right to be raised by a mother and a father where possible.

If the Constitution would allow no distinction or preference for the purposes of marriage between a male/female couple and a male/male couple or a female/female couple (which is what the wording proposes), what this would mean in practice is that it would be impossible for any adoption law to recognise the desirability of a child to have the benefit of both a father and a mother because the law would have to proceed under the illusion that when it comes to the qualities needed for raising children (in addition to the qualities imparted by parents to their children), two women or two men would be exactly the same as a mother and a father.

For the law to put the desires of some adults ahead of the common good (and common sense) is wrong, and it is why I will have to vote No when this wording is put before me at the polling station in May. – Yours, etc,

JOHN B REID,

Monkstown,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – While I remain undecided on the referendum at this point, emotionally I am committed to promoting the rights of gay people and to anything that assists young persons coming to terms with being gay, particularly from communities where there is a stigma attached to being gay. Logically I find the argument that there is no redefinition of the term marriage makes no sense as it clearly does in terms of the traditional definition of a man marrying a woman.

As a father I would ideally wish all my children to have a traditional marriage and raise children together, but should any of them be gay, I would want them to find happiness and a partner for life with all the same legal protections and rights as anyone else. While I remain unsure of using the term marriage for all relationships, I think an open, honest and respectful debate will have a positive effect in destigmatising the experience for those “coming out” as gay. – Yours, etc,

FRANK BROWNE,

Templeogue,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – It is dishonest and deliberately misleading to talk of “marriage equality” in the context of the forthcoming referendum. Anyone with even a modicum of intelligence will see that marriage between a heterosexual couple and any arrangement between same-sex couples could never be “equal”. – Yours, etc,

FRANK MURPHY,

Sligo.

Sir, – The debate about the constitutional amendment to allow same sex-couples marry in Ireland seems to touch on the welfare of children.

For decades children have been successfully raised by single parents, often in spite of the obstacles put in their path. While I will be voting Yes to this amendment, there will be single-parent families and families with same-sex parents in Ireland regardless of whether the amendment is passed.

Unfortunately a No vote will deny these parents and families the additional security and acceptance that would make children’s lives better. Surely children’s welfare is best served by living in a supportive community, not one of exclusion and less than subtle moral superiority.

A No vote is a vote against children’s welfare and an uncharitable action. – Yours, etc,

SE LYDON,

Wilton,

Cork.

A chara, – The Children and Family Relationships Bill will be enacted whether or not the Irish people vote Yes to same-sex marriage. This piece of legislation will allow for adoption by same-sex couples and provide for guardianship also. The Government has pledged to enact this legislation, brought forward by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, before the referendum in May which will seek to add the following clause to our Constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

The No campaign has sought to entangle both of these issues. If the No campaign were to be successful we could have a situation whereby a child could be adopted by a same-sex couple but that couple would be unable to marry. This would be counterproductive to the very principle it purports to promote – the protection of children and the family. – Is mise,

KILLIAN BRENNAN,

Dublin 17.

Sir, – Miriam Lord’s entertaining and incisive article on marriage equality (“A window of wanton consensus on wording”, Dáil Sketch, January 22nd) highlighted an interesting general trend.

The No campaign claims that its central concern is related to children, yet several prominent No campaigners opposed the civil partnership Bill even when it went out of its way to exclude children from its provisions.

The reality is that 230 families are headed by same-sex parents (2011 census) and this referendum aims to ensure family stability for them. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN DINEEN,

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – If you asked married couples what is putting them and their family under pressure, they would mention increases in taxation, finding affordable accommodation, unemployment, emigration and the fear of it, childcare costs or trying to juggle family life and looking after elderly relatives. I doubt that one of them would mention the prospect of equal recognition for same-sex relationships as being a threat to their family. Yet, in the forthcoming debate, we’ll be told once again that safeguarding children, marriages and families requires withholding basic rights from one section of the population. It is a matter of some regret that articulate people who would otherwise have much to offer in the development of social policy are still basing their contributions around such ideas. – Yours, etc,

CIARÁN

Ó RAGHALLAIGH,

Cavan, Co Cavan.