Marriage referendum

A chara, – Breda O'Brien ("Garda body's call for a Yes vote undermines democracy", Opinion & Analysis, May 2nd) complains of what she describes as the sealed nature of the referendum debate. In fact, the referendum is being extensively and openly debated.

Ms O’Brien also bemoans the fact that the GRA is supporting a Yes vote and beleives it is breaking political impartiality. The GRA is a representative body, it is not An Garda Síochána, which is trusted with political impartiality.

Again, Ms O’Brien outlines the views and experience of a Heather Barwick, as she has done in print and on radio. I doubt if the debate was so sealed I would be hearing about the views of one foreign citizen in an Irish constitutional debate for the fourth or fifth time.

Finally, Ms O’Brien rightly complains about the damage to a small number of No posters. Within any public debate there are extreme fringes. May I suggest that for the rest of debate that Ms O’Brien should pay as little attention to these outliers as I did to the abuse I received from a women when she saw I was wearing a Tá badge last Friday. – Yours etc,



Dublin 8.

Sir, – I note that the GRA now regard the views of those who consider marriage as the union of a man and woman as bigoted and unenlightened. Given that our police force is responsible for investigating crime, including breaches of the Prohibition of the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, it is difficult to see how it will be able to do this impartially given its ideological commitment to a particular vision of marriage, equality and sexual morality.

The Council of Europe report on intolerance and discrimination in Europe, with a special focus on Christians, notes that “several Catholic bishops have been charged or been the subject of a criminal investigation for alleged hate speech violations for homilies or other expression of doctrinal Christian values. Many more Christian preachers have also been arrested for publicly preaching on the streets.”

The statement from the GRA fundamentally compromises the ability of the police to investigate allegations of hate speech in a fair and impartial manner.

Whether the victims of alleged hate-speech crimes are homosexuals, or those who express their opposition to same-sex marriage or homosexual practice per se, the bias of our police force is not now a matter of opinion, but is a matter of public record.

Given that the expression of Christian values around marriage and sexuality is increasingly characterised and misrepresented as being “homophobic” and “hateful”, it now seems far more likely in view of the GRA’s position, and particularly if the referendum is passed, that we may expect to see religious leaders in Ireland facing prosecution for expressing Christian teaching on marriage and morality. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – Vincent Twomey ("Ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting Yes to same-sex marriage", Opinion & Analysis, May 1st) says that people who sincerely cannot equate same-sex unions with marriage fear being accused of homophobia. He says that up to a few decades ago, the meaning of marriage was unquestioned. So were limbo, purgatory and priestly sanctity.

Perhaps to live in an unquestioning society is a more dangerous prospect than to live in one populated by same-sex married couples who may or may not be parents.

He says the Yes campaign is appealing to our emotions. It is possible to use one’s intellect in the application of fairness by voting Yes – this is not a “Walt Disney-like” emotional response, driven by the pulling of heartstrings by the Government/media/Yes campaign. I would suggest he is being too selective about the natural aspects of humanity that marriage embodies. To live together in a loving union, as a family, whether children result from it or not, is a natural aspect of humanity and fitting to the institution of marriage for all, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Equality in name and nature surely means to include. We have evolved beyond simple assumptions to a point where we can apply more complex concepts and have them incorporated into our Constitution and institutions, including marriage. Living by simple assumptions in an unquestioning way is not conducive to a healthy society. – Yours, etc,


Naul,Co Dublin.

Sir, – According to Noel Whelan ("What's the difference between civil partnership and marriage?", Opinion & Analysis, May 1st), "having a separate and lesser institution sends a clear message that lesbian and gay people are not equally valued. The exclusion of gays and lesbians from marriage marks them out. It tells them that they are less." While I share the sentiment of inclusion and respect behind this argument, it completely disregards the impact of same-sex marriage on children. Children adopted by gay couples will be deprived of a father or a mother and deprived of the model of an adult heterosexual relationship in the family home. Those contemplating voting Yes should ask themselves: is it really worth inflicting these costs on children in order to enhance the social status of same-sex unions? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – As a Christian, when faced with a choice, I tend to ask “What would Jesus do today?” Sometimes, he was strict about the law in the Old Testament; at other times he offered alternatives to the laws.

It seems to me that the common attitude he took was always love – if there was a conflict between the law and love he always made the decision that was consistent with love. That is why I believe that the loving choice in this referendum is to support the amendment. It is not only to include gay people more fully in our society: it is to respect gay people by giving them the equal opportunity to express their love in marriage.

One of the things that has changed in marriage thankfully over the years has been a growing sense of equality between male and female partners. I feel that marriage has also offered my wife and I the opportunity of supporting each other through all of life’s joys and challenges at a deep level. When I become aware of the deep loneliness that exists in the gay community, I feel they should have this opportunity too. Before I got married, an elderly lady gave me advice in a pub: “Trust each other,” she said. Of course, difficult times happen in any loving relationship: friends and family fall out, marriages fail and sometimes couples and partners make decisions that hurt others– we are all human. But our sexuality does not make us better or worse people. My faith informs me that we are all have an equal responsibility to love and a right to be loved in marriage. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8 .

Sir, – Rob Sadlier (May 2nd) needn't worry about the Irish red herring; the Government is ensuring its survival. The decison to deal with marriage equality via a referendum to change the Constitution is the greatest current red herring of all.

There is no impediment to same-sex marriage in our existing Constitution and the non-gender-loaded words used in the (superior) Irish language version of article 41.3.1 – (family) teaghlach, (marriage) pósad – means such a constitutional right almost certainly exists already. This referendum is unnecessary and the divisive confusion it is engendering arises because the Government won’t deal with the matter in the constitutionally appropriate (and much cheaper) manner, ie straightforward (no pun intended) legislation. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

A chara, – I feel that each generation gets its chance to make a real difference. I hear my grandmother speak proudly of when the ban on contraception was lifted or when women gained the right to remain in the Civil Service after marriage. To her this was an important milestone in Irish society. Something that she feels she was on the right side of. I hear my mother speak proudly of when the ban on homosexuality was lifted and when divorce became legal. She too feels she was on the right side of the argument and that she helped to make a change with her vote. I look forward to 60 years down the line, when I can tell my grandchildren how I stood up for equal marriage rights for all. How I canvassed, wore Yes equality badges and stickers, wrote letters to The Irish Times and how I arranged for my classmates and friends to register to vote.

I want to speak proudly to them like my mother and grandmother do to me. I want to be on the right side of history. This is why I will be voting yes on May 22nd. – Is mise,


Dublin 13.