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  1. #1
    Mercurial Mercurial is offline
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    Same-sex marriage: Des Quirell & scolairebocht

    Following the discussion here, this thread will be for a debate between Des Quirell and scolairebocht on the issue of same-sex marriage. Once the debate has concluded, a thread will be opened in the marriage referendum forum where comments will be open to everyone.

    *******

    Des Quirell - Opening Statement

    As an opening statement I wish first – in the absence of a statement to respond to – to briefly critique some of the standard arguments made against SSM.

    Please note that I'm not ascribing these arguments to scolairebocht, who may approach the subject from an entirely different angle. I just need to address some of the more frequent arguments raised by the “No” side. In doing so I hope not merely to be in a defensive mode but to also turn those arguments on their head and to make in my rebuttals a positive case for SSM

    I should also state my position on this. I'm an Irish emigré who will have no vote in the referendum, but I have family and friends back home and I plan at some stage to split my time between Ireland and France. I have an interest in seeing a better society in Ireland. I'm married in what, for want of a better phrase, would be probably considered a “conventional” marriage and have two kids here.

    Anyway, to these claims:

    SSM Involves a Redefinition of Marriage.

    The problem with this argument is finding a consistent definition for the word “marriage”. On the face of it this should be a simple matter, but in effect it is not simple. Additionally, I will show that the definition of “marriage” has been fluid in the past, so there is precedent for re-evaluating its meaning.

    For example, in several states of the US up until 1967 marriage was in reality something that could only be entered into by a man and woman of the same race. Ditto for South Africa during the apartheid period.

    I will risk a brief flirt with Godwin by also citing the Nuremburg Laws, which prevented Jews marrying outside their faith.

    Nuremberg Laws - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    That is only at the legislative level and I attract the accusation that it is in the past.

    It also continues to this day, though, in certain places, and for example an Egyptian marrying an Israeli faces loss of citizenship unless first satisfying the authorities that there is no risk of espionage involved.

    At the religious level there are a myriad of further circumstances where marriage to a person outside the faith attracts conditions and even outright prohibitions. In certain countries, a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim, while Muslim men aren't under the same prohibition.

    Indeed the Catholic Church's definition of marriage is sufficiently fluid as to allow them to pretend that a duly witnessed marriage conducted by its own clerics between two willing participants and recognised by the State can be deemed never to have happened – even against the will of one of the participants. Even a retrospective redefinition is allowable, as Sheila Rauch Kennedy will aver.

    Marriage is and has been subject to such constraints of differing hues as to make it practically impossible to settle on a universally applicable definition.

    We have also seen that when placed in the bailiwick of legislators or clerics the institution of marriage becomes restrictive and the outcomes are not generally beneficial. That is why I am happy that the people are being asked to refine the constitutional definition and is why I would urge a less restrictive interpretation of the term.

    In short: when legislators control the definition the results are generally negative, and the religious institutions have generally used it also in a proscriptive sense.

    Redefinition of marriage in light of these abuses by legislator and cleric suddenly becomes a good thing and one that is best left in the hands of the people.

    SSM Undermines Marriage.

    This is a very fluffy and ill-defined claim. What does it mean in effect? Is my own marriage effected if SSM is approved? In what way? It has zero impact on my level of conjugal comfort if homosexuals are queueing up at the local registry office to get married – hell, except if I chose that day to renew my driving licence.

    I've read the claim that the sanctity of marriage is undermined by SSM, but sanctity is hardly a concept to be applied to a status which is granted by the State when once some conditions are met – and arbitrary ones at that. Sanctity is a religious concept, and really can only be used in the context of the sacrament of Matrimony – something which the State has no role in. Indeed the situation exists where I could be in a marriage recognised by the State while the RCC deems it never to have happened as a result of annulment.

    However, there is an interesting wrinkle in this:

    The conventional wisdom is that introduction of SSM somehow damages the institution of marriage in general. Not according to studies:

    However, there is no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry weakens the institution. If anything, the numbers indicate the opposite. A decade after Denmark, Norway and Sweden passed their respective partnership laws, heterosexual marriage rates had risen 10.7% in Denmark; 12.7% in Norway; and a whopping 28.8% in Sweden. In Denmark over the last few years, marriage rates are the highest they've been since the early 1970s. Divorce rates among heterosexual couples, on the other hand, have fallen. A decade after each country passed its partnership law, divorce rates had dropped 13.9% in Denmark; 6% in Norway; and 13.7% in Sweden. On average, divorce rates among heterosexuals remain lower now than in the years before same-sex partnerships were legalized.
    The Hitch—A Commentary by William Eskridge, Jr. '78 | Yale Law School

    Similar findings have been made in the US in those states which have SSM.

    I'm not going to claim a causative link between the introduction of SSM and a strengthening of the more traditional form of marriage, but at the very least it is indicative that in places where it has been introduced it doesn't appear to have caused any problems in respect of heterosexual marriage.

    Gays Already Have Access to Civil Partnerships.

    OK. Words are important. The words “marriage” and “family” carry great weight with those involved as marital partners and with those (kids included) who are involved.

    But the differences are significant in another sense. It is far easier for a couple in a civil partnership to dissolve it than it is for a couple who are married. On the face of it that may look like a benefit, but the significance is that there is an implication that the former is of sufficiently less value that it cane be undone more quickly.

    There are a host of other issues relating to next-of-kin, insurance, inheritance etc which I can explore in more detail if needed, but the essential point is that while these are all amenable to resolution via legislation, a simple change of the status of same-sex partners would cover these rather than waiting for hard cases to occur and legislators being forced into on-going fire-fights.

    This gets back to adoption. As things stand, adoption by a gay couple is vested in only one of the putative adoptees. With SSM in place, both potential adoptees would be assessed (as is the case with married couples at the moment). This is because in the event of the death of one, the other remains a parent. This is not the case at the moment for couples in a civil partnership. SSM would allow the adoption agencies to ensure that the continued suitability and continuity of the parental function remains even after a tragedy involving one partner. A child wouldn't have to suffer the loss of two parents instead of one. The child would have security.

    SSM would actually protect the child in this event.

    I urge a Yes vote on the day if this is an issue for you.

    Finally, and in summary, I have really attempted only a very high level view in this post. Hence there are few links as yet. As gritty gets down to nitty in terms of detail I will be posting more, but at this stage of the debate I want to neither flood data into it nor be seen to seize the opportunity to attempt to completely direct the direction of the debate.

    At the same time, in opening it I couldn't ignore some of the direct and some of the more nebulous claims being made by the “No” side. They may not chime directly with those of scolairebocht but I am happy to see what points are raised in his reply along with whether he chooses to address those I have made.
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  2. #2
    Mercurial Mercurial is offline
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    scolairebocht - Opening Statement

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the politics.ie online head to head same sex marriage debate. I would just like to thank Des Quirrell for launching this format and hope that you all find it at least a little different from the usual debates on this site.

    I would also like to thank you Des for that interesting opening statement although I would quarrel with some detail in it, as you'd expect! But not to get bogged down in that cut and thrust I thought it best to reply with my own 'opening statement', setting out the broad picture:

    Amending Constitution
    We are asked in a few weeks to change the Irish constitution to accommodate Same Sex Marriage. Now since obviously that document is meant to contain only some overarching principles and rights that do not change much over the ages, unlike legislation, it is obvious that you shouldn't change it to accommodate the whims of the day without good reason. This in turn puts a kind of natural onus on the 'changers' of the document to present overwhelming reasons why it should be so amended.

    The basic reason they are giving is that married people have some rights that potential gay couples wish to have. Since, for good or for ill, there is a Civil Partnership system in place for gay partners which gives virtually all the rights that married couples already have, it compels us to focus in on only those rights that are withheld from them currently to see if they are of such import as to warrant a constitutional change. They seem to fall into maybe three classes:

    Differences between Civil Partnership and Marriage
    1. Some miscellaneous, and you would have to say, clearly small matters which it seems the Oireachtas has currently overlooked in its determination to make the Civil Partnership system exactly the same as a normal marriage. We are told e.g. that things like: "....access to hardship payments in cases like flood damage to houses is lessened" ( How will you vote in the Marriage Referendum and why? - Page 7 ) for Civil Partnership partners as opposed to married couples.

    Clearly all that kind of stuff could be addressed by legislation, if some feel the need to change it, rather than by constitutional amendment, and you would have to say, in the light of the differences between constitutions and legislation outlined above, ought to be approached that way. Des, in his opening statement, addresses this by saying that it would be better to have these rights passed by the people in a referendum rather than subjecting this group to the vagaries of our parliament. You'd have to say his statement gives the impression that gay activists have difficulties there and therefore need to go to the people etc.

    I think the opposite is the truth. As far as I know the only TD out of 166 who is on the stump, in any shape or form, against the referendum is Mattie McGrath and he is quoted as saying he only 'might' vote against the referendum ( Mattie McGrath will ). All the political parties, large small left right etc, are campaigning vigorously in favour of it so its obvious that the LGBT community can get anything they like on that score in the Dail. Actually the general public might prove to be a harder nut to crack, as is obvious from the passion generated even on politics.ie.

    So with no disrespect I would have to say that is just not a real answer as to why the LGBT community do not pursue these changes by legislation rather than constitutional amendment.

    2. Because marriage is protected in the constitution it follows that if you have a Civil Partnership as opposed to a marriage, in theory anyway, it means you have less legal protection for your arrangement. Also obviously this sort of constitutional protection could only be given by the constitution itself, hence it would have to be changed by referendum and not by legislation alone.

    Yes but this is a very theoretical thing. If you read the marriage/family clauses in the constitution they talk about the mother not being forced by economics to work outside the home etc. In practice these clauses have not given modern marriage much protection, not above and beyond legislation, and so wouldn't confer much else on top for a gay couple already in a Civil Partnership.

    Furthermore if this amendment is passed it does mean that the mystical, inalienable rights type of constitutional protection to marriage is itself somewhat broken. In otherwords if same sex couples can get married then well anybody can get married really and then marriage is not really anything special, and hence specially protected, anymore. Its like an exclusive club which passes an amendment which says anybody can join and then the new comers get bored because its not exclusive anymore, they are letting anybody in!

    Seriously if this amendment is passed there is no reason to suppose it will be in any way the end of such redefinitions of marriage. Give it a few years and three person partnerships will want recognition etc. Why not? They love each other, we will be assured, why deny them the right to get married etc etc? So then you find that the great constitutional protection of the state of marriage is just a dead letter, about as valuable as a business partnership or limited company!

    So in seeking this amendment in order to get that mystical constitutional protection you are destroying the very thing you are seeking?

    3. It is felt that the question of adoption rights, and surrogacy issues, and inheritance rights which mostly flow from the latter two issues for SSM couples, for LGBT couples will be copper fastened by the amendment, and that in fact it might be necessary to have this in order for them to adopt at all.

    Obviously the government has passed legislation giving them these rights already but some say that that legislation could be overturned as unconstitutional on the grounds that SSM is not allowed (b).

    That is one view that SSM Yes campaigners are going for and the other line taken is that the government has put to bed adoption issues with that legislation, and hence you are not really allowed to talk about it at all in the context of this referendum, because it is supposed to have nothing to do with it (a). I think I'd better reply to both points beginning with the latter view:

    a) Obviously when the people are asked to change their constitution they are asked to look at the overall principles, philosophy, behind a given amendment, because thats what constitutions are as opposed to legislation. And obviously the question of offspring is central to the question of marriage, it always has been. Hence it makes no sense to expect to have a debate about SSM and not ask about the children and how that is to be sorted out. The government has clearly no right to artificially limit the debate like this no matter what the legislative picture is.

    b) Rather curiously, but sensibly, Des is going for this view and not the above one. He argues that the amendment is necessary - the current legislation notwithstanding - to give same sex couples the same rights over adopted and surrogate children, and mostly related inheritance rights, as married couples have.

    So overall I would accept that point. Here in point 3 is one good reason why a Civil Partnership couple would push to get married as opposed to stay in their current state, if for no other reason than that new legislation looks to be on shaky constitutional ground if this SSM amendment is not passed.

    Mother and Father type marriage
    But thing is I am not happy that this, the giving of these new adoption/surrogacy rights to SSM couples, is the best way to bring up children. Traditionally in Ireland, and all around the world, it was quite oenerous to meet the requirements to adopt a child. It went into the age and economic circumstances of the couple etc etc and certainly no single parent could adopt a child. Why? Because obviously it was reckoned that it would be best to give the child a mother and father, even if not biological, that it would be better for his/her upbringing. Now they want it said that it doesn't matter, they want children to get their start in life without that.

    Obviously the life of any child does not always work out according to the ideal, parents might die later etc, but at least in the start of a marriage it would seem to be better to insist on an arrangement that ensures the children have a mother and father?

    That is definitely up there as one of the reasons why traditionally we say that a marriage must begin with two people of opposite sex, so it would provide a mother and father to the offspring and I think it still remains a pretty good reason to insist on marriage being limited to a man and a woman.

    Anyway I hope I have addressed some of the points in this debate and hopefully I can get around to some of the later issues in further comments.
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  3. #3
    Des Quirell Des Quirell is offline
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    scolairebocht, my apologies for the length of time it has taken to reply. An issue came last week and I've has only smartphone access and from tomorrow lunchtime until Saturday lunchtime I'll have varely any access at all. Thus I've had to rush this more than I would have liked.



    Thank you for your reply; now we're getting into the meat of the the thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by scolairebocht View Post
    scolairebocht - Opening Statement

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the politics.ie online head to head same sex marriage debate. I would just like to thank Des Quirrell for launching this format and hope that you all find it at least a little different from the usual debates on this site.

    I would also like to thank you Des for that interesting opening statement although I would quarrel with some detail in it, as you'd expect! But not to get bogged down in that cut and thrust I thought it best to reply with my own 'opening statement', setting out the broad picture:

    Amending Constitution
    We are asked in a few weeks to change the Irish constitution to accommodate Same Sex Marriage. Now since obviously that document is meant to contain only some overarching principles and rights that do not change much over the ages, unlike legislation, it is obvious that you shouldn't change it to accommodate the whims of the day without good reason. This in turn puts a kind of natural onus on the 'changers' of the document to present overwhelming reasons why it should be so amended.
    I agree entirely that a strong positive case needs to be made. My default in referendums has always been to vote "No" unless I am persuaded. In this (OK, I don't have a vote, being an expat), I am persuaded for reasons I'll cover.
    Quote Originally Posted by scolairebocht View Post

    The basic reason they are giving is that married people have some rights that potential gay couples wish to have. Since, for good or for ill, there is a Civil Partnership system in place for gay partners which gives virtually all the rights that married couples already have, it compels us to focus in on only those rights that are withheld from them currently to see if they are of such import as to warrant a constitutional change. They seem to fall into maybe three classes:
    Before going much further I have to pick up on the phrase "virtually all". This is of itself a direct concession that civil partnership does not allow same-sex couples in such partnerships all of the privileges enjoyed by those couples who chose to marry.
    Quote Originally Posted by scolairebocht View Post
    Differences between Civil Partnership and Marriage
    1. Some miscellaneous, and you would have to say, clearly small matters which it seems the Oireachtas has currently overlooked in its determination to make the Civil Partnership system exactly the same as a normal marriage. We are told e.g. that things like: "....access to hardship payments in cases like flood damage to houses is lessened" ( How will you vote in the Marriage Referendum and why? - Page 7 ) for Civil Partnership partners as opposed to married couples.

    Clearly all that kind of stuff could be addressed by legislation, if some feel the need to change it, rather than by constitutional amendment, and you would have to say, in the light of the differences between constitutions and legislation outlined above, ought to be approached that way. Des, in his opening statement, addresses this by saying that it would be better to have these rights passed by the people in a referendum rather than subjecting this group to the vagaries of our parliament. You'd have to say his statement gives the impression that gay activists have difficulties there and therefore need to go to the people etc.
    I specifically mentioned in my post that many of the disparities that exist pertaining to the rights of those in civil partnerships and those in Marriages could be addressed by legislation. However, this approach is piecemeal, time-consuming and may fall foul of greater priorities in the legislative sessions that are basically determined by the party whips.
    Quote Originally Posted by scolairebocht View Post
    I think the opposite is the truth. As far as I know the only TD out of 166 who is on the stump, in any shape or form, against the referendum is Mattie McGrath and he is quoted as saying he only 'might' vote against the referendum ( Mattie McGrath will ). All the political parties, large small left right etc, are campaigning vigorously in favour of it so its obvious that the LGBT community can get anything they like on that score in the Dail. Actually the general public might prove to be a harder nut to crack, as is obvious from the passion generated even on politics.ie.
    It is entirely possible that the various parties are simply reflecting the majority wish of the electorate.


    So with no disrespect I would have to say that is just not a real answer as to why the LGBT community do not pursue these changes by legislation rather than constitutional amendment.
    What about references to marriage which lie outside the legislation book?
    2. Because marriage is protected in the constitution it follows that if you have a Civil Partnership as opposed to a marriage, in theory anyway, it means you have less legal protection for your arrangement. Also obviously this sort of constitutional protection could only be given by the constitution itself, hence it would have to be changed by referendum and not by legislation alone.

    Yes but this is a very theoretical thing. If you read the marriage/family clauses in the constitution they talk about the mother not being forced by economics to work outside the home etc. In practice these clauses have not given modern marriage much protection, not above and beyond legislation, and so wouldn't confer much else on top for a gay couple already in a Civil Partnership.

    Furthermore if this amendment is passed it does mean that the mystical, inalienable rights type of constitutional protection to marriage is itself somewhat broken. In otherwords if same sex couples can get married then well anybody can get married really and then marriage is not really anything special, and hence specially protected, anymore. Its like an exclusive club which passes an amendment which says anybody can join and then the new comers get bored because its not exclusive anymore, they are letting anybody in!
    So once you finally get access to the big house you slam the door behind you to others?

    This phrase "then well anybody can get married really and then marriage is not really anything special" doesn't sit well beside the phrase "exclusive club". Exclusive clubs are inherently based on inequalities, their membership criteria being based more on bars to membership than anything. They're a relic of a time when the class system was much more powerful than it is now. We can't allow social issues to be decided in the same manner of such archaic reasoning.

    Seriously if this amendment is passed there is no reason to suppose it will be in any way the end of such redefinitions of marriage. Give it a few years and three person partnerships will want recognition etc. Why not? They love each other, we will be assured, why deny them the right to get married etc etc? So then you find that the great constitutional protection of the state of marriage is just a dead letter, about as valuable as a business partnership or limited company!

    So in seeking this amendment in order to get that mystical constitutional protection you are destroying the very thing you are seeking?
    As indicated in the link in my first post where SSM has been implemented the marriage rate has risen and the divorce rate lowered. You would do well to address those studies. If the polyamorous want their unions recognised they can lobby for it. As it is, they don't even have civil partnerships and I haven't noted any significant anywhere seeking such status. Let us deal with that if it arises.
    3. It is felt that the question of adoption rights, and surrogacy issues, and inheritance rights which mostly flow from the latter two issues for SSM couples, for LGBT couples will be copper fastened by the amendment, and that in fact it might be necessary to have this in order for them to adopt at all.

    Obviously the government has passed legislation giving them these rights already but some say that that legislation could be overturned as unconstitutional on the grounds that SSM is not allowed (b).

    That is one view that SSM Yes campaigners are going for and the other line taken is that the government has put to bed adoption issues with that legislation, and hence you are not really allowed to talk about it at all in the context of this referendum, because it is supposed to have nothing to do with it (a). I think I'd better reply to both points beginning with the latter view:

    a) Obviously when the people are asked to change their constitution they are asked to look at the overall principles, philosophy, behind a given amendment, because thats what constitutions are as opposed to legislation. And obviously the question of offspring is central to the question of marriage, it always has been. Hence it makes no sense to expect to have a debate about SSM and not ask about the children and how that is to be sorted out. The government has clearly no right to artificially limit the debate like this no matter what the legislative picture is.

    b) Rather curiously, but sensibly, Des is going for this view and not the above one. He argues that the amendment is necessary - the current legislation notwithstanding - to give same sex couples the same rights over adopted and surrogate children, and mostly related inheritance rights, as married couples have.

    So overall I would accept that point. Here in point 3 is one good reason why a Civil Partnership couple would push to get married as opposed to stay in their current state, if for no other reason than that new legislation looks to be on shaky constitutional ground if this SSM amendment is not passed.

    Mother and Father type marriage
    But thing is I am not happy that this, the giving of these new adoption/surrogacy rights to SSM couples, is the best way to bring up children. Traditionally in Ireland, and all around the world, it was quite oenerous to meet the requirements to adopt a child. It went into the age and economic circumstances of the couple etc etc and certainly no single parent could adopt a child. Why? Because obviously it was reckoned that it would be best to give the child a mother and father, even if not biological, that it would be better for his/her upbringing. Now they want it said that it doesn't matter, they want children to get their start in life without that.

    Obviously the life of any child does not always work out according to the ideal, parents might die later etc, but at least in the start of a marriage it would seem to be better to insist on an arrangement that ensures the children have a mother and father?

    That is definitely up there as one of the reasons why traditionally we say that a marriage must begin with two people of opposite sex, so it would provide a mother and father to the offspring and I think it still remains a pretty good reason to insist on marriage being limited to a man and a woman.

    Anyway I hope I have addressed some of the points in this debate and hopefully I can get around to some of the later issues in further comments.
    Tradition is no reason to cling to outdated precepts. It leads to behaviour such as making assumptions that the traditional way is best and therefore not challenging these assumptions and exposing them to rigorous examination.

    If you are going to hold that the father/mother model is in all cases superior to parenting by same-sex parents you are going to have to demonstrate such with relevant good-quality (i.e. not funded by parties with an agenda) studies. The rest of the last section is too fuzzy for me to respond without some backing data.
    Last edited by Des Quirell; 4th May 2015 at 09:51 AM.
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  4. #4
    scolairebocht scolairebocht is offline
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    Des Quirrell:
    "As indicated in the link in my first post where SSM has been implemented the marriage rate has risen and the divorce rate lowered. You would do well to address those studies."

    Which I guess is referring to this quote from your opening statement:
    "However, there is no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry weakens the institution. If anything, the numbers indicate the opposite. A decade after Denmark, Norway and Sweden passed their respective partnership laws, heterosexual marriage rates had risen 10.7% in Denmark; 12.7% in Norway; and a whopping 28.8% in Sweden."
    That quote seems to me to be very mischievously written, the fact is that they are only referring there to Civil Partnerships. Denmark only legalised SSM in 2012, and Norway and Sweden in 2009, so we certainly aren't talking about decade long studies here.

    But in any case so as not to get bogged down in too much of a back and forth I thought I would try and address a big issue of this campaign, which is the question of:


    Equality/Human Rights
    This is the big theme of the Govt./Yes campaign. We are told that the civic rights of the gay community are being impeded and to correct that we have to change the constitution. Before people rush off to correct this supposed wrong I thought I would just raise about three general areas which people might like to consider before believing the government too readily here:

    1) While these issues do have some relevance of course on occasion, and would have been associated with constitutions from the beginning, and even with the Magna Carta, nonetheless in my opinion this has become a somewhat distorted theme over the last few decades.

    Over the last few years I think our actual human rights vis a vis the state have eroded markedly while in the EU sponsored Orwellian atmosphere of the media in Ireland we 'never had it so good', we have supposedly gained in 'human rights' over the last few years. In otherwords this is one of those areas where the rhetoric is incredible but the reality is totally different.

    For example traditionally the right to get water in Ireland was a much prized one. The Councils used to spend fortunes of money creating in some cases very deep and elaborate public water pumps but the idea they would charge people for water would be completely unheard of, and I'd say in the past could have caused a revolution!

    I only give that as an example but the fact is that your normal human rights, the ones that are really important as you go about your everyday life, are being eroded massively all the time in modern decades. Nowadays you cannot park in a town in the free way you used to, or use your private property for what you liked (in some cases private landowners have been prosecuted for putting up tents etc) in a way that you could for centuries. You cannot assist your local football club without the permission of the state now (through garda vetting schemes). You cannot avoid massive government surveillance covering every public space through govt CCTV, through mobile phones, spying on hotel registers, even on buses etc. That was certainly considered an important human right in the past, there is not much human liberty if the govt is spying on you so comprehensively.

    You can conduct virtually no type of commerce without unbelievably elaborate rules and regulations which most people cannot meet at least without huge expense in lawyers/accountants etc. You cannot drive on a public road without, again, incredible expense and in many cases spending huge amounts of money in meeting often dubious bureaucratic requirements. I suspect there are many people from rural Ireland who have ended up emigrating because they cannot meet these requirements while the right to transport, and the right to conduct a business, would have been considered a proper human right in the past.

    The point I'm trying to make is this idea that the government/Irish establishment has suddenly grown a new conscience and is breathlessly anxious not to impede any group's 'civil rights' should be read with a 'yeah right'! The truth is they pull out this human rights/equality stunt when it suits them, its just a propaganda thing. It should be treated the same way as any politician talking about 'motherhood and apple pie' - although they are slow to extol the former in this case! Its just PR talk which I think experienced political watchers should discount instantly as they try to figure out what the govt is really up to.

    2. Secondly this human rights/equality/discrimination angle is very much in the eye of the beholder. If Joe Bloggs, who has a homosexual inclination, walks up to the registrar and wants to register his marriage he is in fact in the same position as everybody else. He gets put in front of him a set of rules like all the other applicants - they don't ask him about his sexual orientation - and if he meets them he can get married.

    To have to meet some rules is true of virtually anything out there right now, and in fact the bureaucratic rules for most things you want to get now in Ireland can go on for page after page and frequently discriminate (if you want to put it like that) against large swathes of the Irish public. For example for lots of things now, like opening a bank or even credit union account, you probably couldn't do it without owning or renting some property in your name, because they require utility bills in your name, mobile phone and email addresses etc etc. If you happen to be illiterate or somehow off the digital grid then you can be denied vast areas of your 'human rights'.

    So since everything requires some rules then we are not all equal, some people are bound not to meet all the rules, and some people are always discriminated against, those who cannot meet the rules. Hence you could get all worked up about virtually anything on that kind of basis. The more you think about it the more you see that the cry of 'equality' and 'discrimination' in modern times has been distorted into a kind of fluid rhetoric to be pulled out only when it suits some politicians to do so.

    3) Then if you insist on falling into their trap and continue to view issues through this human rights/equality prism you end up finding that giving one party 'human rights/equality' frequently cuts off some other party's 'human rights/equality'.

    For example in this case the right to express or teach a view that the married mother/father model of a family is the ideal, from the point of view of rearing children, is it seems under threat in this referendum. Some comments from the Taoiseach have raised the prospect that those who hold that view will no longer be able to express it in the schools. It is true that some legislation protects that now but in a post SSM yes world its debatable how much that legislation will pass constitutional scrutiny. And, if you look at controversies in many countries where the LGBT community is very prominent politically, you would have to wonder if anybody expressing that kind of opinion would be open to prosecution for 'homophobic' rhetoric.

    The right of Christians to express opinions like that, or even in some cases practice their religion, are clearly under threat and passing this amendment will definitely not help. For example even in the UK the Catholic adoption agencies all had to close because the government wouldn't allow them to refuse to adopt their children into gay couples. In the US right now this very subject is before the Supreme Court and just prior to that hearing Justice Scalia, from that court, outlined to the US Congress the wide implications of that step for Christians:
    "Among the exchanges, Justice Antonin Scalia repeatedly noted that if the High Court finds same-sex
    "marriage" is a constitutional right, then priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams will be required to perform such ceremonies - regardless of their religious beliefs - or face state penalties. Justice Scalia repeatedly suggested that once a constitutional right to marry by same-sex couples was enshrined by the court, a member of the clergy could not be given civil marriage powers by the state unless he agreed to perform any and all marriages that the nation legally recognizes."
    ( https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/st...ages-or-lose-l )
    Another quite important right out there is the right to work for who you like, and not to be compelled to work for somebody. That I think is quite an important human right over the ages. If you can imagine the hiring fairs of the 19th or early 20th centuries, where people would line up hoping to be hired for some physical labour, they would certainly not work for somebody they disliked and you would certainly say they had every right not to. Now it turns out that some people are being compelled to work for gay couples, in making cakes and printing materials, whether they like it or not!

    You can see that it is getting quite serious, the degree to which some party's rights are being eroded as the LGBT community's rights and power have grown. There is in fact a perfectly genuine fear in Christian circles that their right to their views are under attack from that quarter, with a yes vote here adding more legal power to a party who are anxious to silence those they disagree with? And the conduct of the campaign itself is a harbinger of the kind of respect some in the LGBT quarter have for Christians and in particular for Catholics in this country, in otherwords precious little even giving way to open hatred?

    So just marking your 'X' to erase this last piece of 'inequality' from the constitution is a very simplistic and in fact foolish way of looking at this referendum, in my opinion.
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  5. #5
    Des Quirell Des Quirell is offline
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    "However, there is no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry weakens the institution. If anything, the numbers indicate the opposite. A decade after Denmark, Norway and Sweden passed their respective partnership laws, heterosexual marriage rates had risen 10.7% in Denmark; 12.7% in Norway; and a whopping 28.8% in Sweden."
    That quote seems to me to be very mischievously written, the fact is that they are only referring there to Civil Partnerships. Denmark only legalised SSM in 2012, and Norway and Sweden in 2009, so we certainly aren't talking about decade long studies here.

    But in any case so as not to get bogged down in too much of a back and forth I thought I would try and address a big issue of this campaign, which is the question of: 



    Equality/Human Rights
    This is the big theme of the Govt./Yes campaign. We are told that the civic rights of the gay community are being impeded and to correct that we have to change the constitution. Before people rush off to correct this supposed wrong I thought I would just raise about three general areas which people might like to consider before believing the government too readily here:

    [/quote]Civil rights?

    1) While these issues do have some relevance of course on occasion, and would have been associated with constitutions from the beginning, and even with the Magna Carta, nonetheless in my opinion this has become a somewhat distorted theme over the last few decades.
    Magna Carta did nothing the rights of minorities.
    Over the last few years I think our actual human rights vis a vis the state have eroded markedly while in the EU sponsored Orwellian atmosphere of the media in Ireland we 'never had it so good', we have supposedly gained in 'human rights' over the last few years. In otherwords this is one of those areas where the rhetoric is incredible but the reality is totally different.
    1993? Divorce availability? Protection of stated minority groups? None of these mean anything to you?

    For example traditionally the right to get water in Ireland was a much prized one. The Councils used to spend fortunes of money creating in some cases very deep and elaborate public water pumps but the idea they would charge people for water would be completely unheard of, and I'd say in the past could have caused a revolution!
    This right was entirely within the gift of the State and such is explicit in Bunreacht. In fact, people have been paying for water for a long time.

    I only give that as an example but the fact is that your normal human rights, the ones that are really important as you go about your everyday life, are being eroded massively all the time in modern decades. Nowadays you cannot park in a town in the free way you used to, or use your private property for what you liked (in some cases private landowners have been prosecuted for putting up tents etc) in a way that you could for centuries. You cannot assist your local football club without the permission of the state now (through garda vetting schemes). You cannot avoid massive government surveillance covering every public space through govt CCTV, through mobile phones, spying on hotel registers, even on buses etc. That was certainly considered an important human right in the past, there is not much human liberty if the govt is spying on you so comprehensively. 
    Ok, so you equate the rights being sought with the rights to park your car anywhere (blocking someone's passage seems to be the ironic counterpoint here in that you seem to advocate it's free practice in the case of traffic). You think that people should be able to build as they see fit without Government intervention; you think that anybody at all should be allowed to coach underage sports squads. You believe that the State should not be able to intervene at all in these cases yet believe that the State should control marriage. You are either for less State intervention or against it, but to cherrypick ranks of hypocricy.

    You can conduct virtually no type of commerce without unbelievably elaborate rules and regulations which most people cannot meet at least without huge expense in lawyers/accountants etc. You cannot drive on a public road without, again, incredible expense and in many cases spending huge amounts of money in meeting often dubious bureaucratic requirements. I suspect there are many people from rural Ireland who have ended up emigrating because they cannot meet these requirements while the right to transport, and the right to conduct a business, would have been considered a proper human right in the past.
    It's your right to insist on less State intervention than for more, but the point becomes increasingly contradictory.
    The point I'm trying to make is this idea that the government/Irish establishment has suddenly grown a new conscience and is breathlessly anxious not to impede any group's 'civil rights' should be read with a 'yeah right'! The truth is they pull out this human rights/equality stunt when it suits them, its just a propaganda thing. It should be treated the same way as any politician talking about 'motherhood and apple pie' - although they are slow to extol the former in this case! Its just PR talk which I think experienced political watchers should discount instantly as they try to figure out what the govt is really up to.
    We have heard our politicians in the past wheeling out the “apple pie” in the form of maidens dancing etc. That is a model which failed the Irish people at every turn. Equality is a very serious issue indeed when it is you who suffer from failures in that regard. It is not some form or leftire shibboleth, but a very serious issue for many people. The history of the State has been littered with the stories of many people – not simply homosexuals – but those of faiths other than Catholicism who have suffered for being different. The failure of the State in treating even one person differently is one which hurts us all.
    2. Secondly this human rights/equality/discrimination angle is very much in the eye of the beholder. If Joe Bloggs, who has a homosexual inclination, walks up to the registrar and wants to register his marriage he is in fact in the same position as everybody else. He gets put in front of him a set of rules like all the other applicants - they don't ask him about his sexual orientation - and if he meets them he can get married.
    He's not – and you know that. Not when his putative partner is also male. That is rather the point of the Referendum. 
    To have to meet some rules is true of virtually anything out there right now, and in fact the bureaucratic rules for most things you want to get now in Ireland can go on for page after page and frequently discriminate (if you want to put it like that) against large swathes of the Irish public. For example for lots of things now, like opening a bank or even credit union account, you probably couldn't do it without owning or renting some property in your name, because they require utility bills in your name, mobile phone and email addresses etc etc. If you happen to be illiterate or somehow off the digital grid then you can be denied vast areas of your 'human rights'.
    I've helped people with illiteracy do these things many times. Having a home address is hardly an arbitrary requirement for opening things such as an ESB account.
    So since everything requires some rules then we are not all equal, some people are bound not to meet all the rules, and some people are always discriminated against, those who cannot meet the rules. Hence you could get all worked up about virtually anything on that kind of basis. The more you think about it the more you see that the cry of 'equality' and 'discrimination' in modern times has been distorted into a kind of fluid rhetoric to be pulled out only when it suits some politicians to do so.
    No. We cannot sit back and say that people encounter different degrees of difficulty in life unless we try to correct that. One by one, if necessary, but as a society we must act to remove these difficulties where we find them.

    3) Then if you insist on falling into their trap and continue to view issues through this human rights/equality prism you end up finding that giving one party 'human rights/equality' frequently cuts off some other party's 'human rights/equality'.

    For example in this case the right to express or teach a view that the married mother/father model of a family is the ideal, from the point of view of rearing children, is it seems under threat in this referendum. Some comments from the Taoiseach have raised the prospect that those who hold that view will no longer be able to express it in the schools. It is true that some legislation protects that now but in a post SSM yes world its debatable how much that legislation will pass constitutional scrutiny. And, if you look at controversies in many countries where the LGBT community is very prominent politically, you would have to wonder if anybody expressing that kind of opinion would be open to prosecution for 'homophobic' rhetoric.
    Cry me a river. I won't be allowed to express homophobic ideals to schoolchildren.
    The right of Christians to express opinions like that, or even in some cases practice their religion, are clearly under threat and passing this amendment will definitely not help. For example even in the UK the Catholic adoption agencies all had to close because the government wouldn't allow them to refuse to adopt their children into gay couples.
    Adoption is not in the gift of hurches and they are bound by relevant legislation. If they feel that they cannot adhere to that then they have no business eing in that line of activity.
    In the US right now this very subject is before the Supreme Court and just prior to that hearing Justice Scalia, from that court, outlined to the US Congress the wide implications of that step for Christians: 
    "Among the exchanges, Justice Antonin Scalia repeatedly noted that if the High Court finds same-sex
    "marriage" is a constitutional right, then priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams will be required to perform such ceremonies - regardless of their religious beliefs - or face state penalties. Justice Scalia repeatedly suggested that once a constitutional right to marry by same-sex couples was enshrined by the court, a member of the clergy could not be given civil marriage powers by the state unless he agreed to perform any and all marriages that the nation legally recognizes."
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/st...ages-or-lose-l )
    Another quite important right out there is the right to work for who you like, and not to be compelled to work for somebody. That I think is quite an important human right over the ages. If you can imagine the hiring fairs of the 19th or early 20th centuries, where people would line up hoping to be hired for some physical labour, they would certainly not work for somebody they disliked and you would certainly say they had every right not to. Now it turns out that some people are being compelled to work for gay couples, in making cakes and printing materials, whether they like it or not!

    You can see that it is getting quite serious, the degree to which some party's rights are being eroded as the LGBT community's rights and power have grown. There is in fact a perfectly genuine fear in Christian circles that their right to their views are under attack from that quarter, with a yes vote here adding more legal power to a party who are anxious to silence those they disagree with? And the conduct of the campaign itself is a harbinger of the kind of respect some in the LGBT quarter have for Christians and in particular for Catholics in this country, in otherwords precious little even giving way to open hatred? 
    The victim card. Nobody is trying to silence anyone. I'd appreciate evidence of that. When I campaigned for divorce in Ireland I had no intention of silencing anyone or of forcing people to divorce. My only intention was to cmpaign for something to become available to epeope whose circumstances demanded it and who could do so with a free conscience.
    So just marking your 'X' to erase this last piece of 'inequality' from the constitution is a very simplistic and in fact foolish way of looking at this referendum, in my opinion.
    I'll be honest in saying that practically none of what you have said adds to the discussion – such as it is.
    Last edited by Des Quirell; 17th May 2015 at 08:41 PM.
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  6. #6
    scolairebocht scolairebocht is offline
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    And here was me innocently thinking I was making a few good points! I notice that Christians are playing the 'victim' card and other groups can 'cry me a river' but in contrast we are to rush into overturning the millenia standing definition of marriage to accommodate a very small group? In any case I thought I should address one major issue that a lot of people are now beginning to cotton on to:

    Bullying by Yes supporters
    Although I don't feel anybody should make too much of one incident, I think its probably after the Navan thing that people are now focusing on the bullying of the No supporters by the other side in this campaign. People are beginning to see that for what it is as described in posts like this:
    "The bullying by YES activists is off the scale.
    This is the most undemocratic referendum in history: 100s of NO posters torn down, websites hacked, mobs on Twitter attacking people, name-calling, and people being threatened because they believe marriage is a union of a man and a woman.

    Everyone who says they might vote No is branded a homophobe.

    Small businesses have been threatened with prosecution for abiding by their belief in marriage as a male-female union, and even the Vincent Browne Show acknowledged that No voters were afraid to go on camera."
    ( Keep Marriage - 4 Things )
    And in twitter comments like the following:

    "Jane Hardy
    @janehardy52: Regardless of the merits, the bullying by big business, the politicisation of Gardai, & attacks on posters, all suggest #voteNO #marref"
    "George Shuttleworth
    @GBShuttleworth: Now that the @ISPCCChildline is involved, will they stand up to the ritualistic bullying by Yes campaigners of their opponents? #MarRef"
    "Bruce McNamara
    @BruceMcNamara3: @anitambyrne @AnGobanSaor @TaraFlynn The bitterness and hatred towards conservatives and Catholics really comes across in this #MarRef"
    "Maria Laoise
    @MariaLaoise: That the political parties support a Yes campaign characterised by empty slogans, and bullying & abuse of dissenters is v disturbing #marref"
    If you research it you will even find reports of big banners being put across the M3 with the slogan "Stand up the bullying, vote No" etc etc.

    Well can we analyze or learn from this, why do people feel so bullied? Well I think you could probably break it down into something like three categories:

    1) Because so much of the establishment and what we thought were supposed to be neutral state agencies - i.e. paid for by taxpayers including No voters - and businesses have turned out so massively towards the No side.

    Even political parties in the past used to respect the deeply held different views of their members on issues like this and would normally have free votes in the Dail and go softly in a nationwide campaign for this reason. But that was during a time when the minority view within those parties was the current liberal consensus, now that the boot is on the other foot all tolerance of course goes out the window and a Dail deputy can expect to get thrown out of his party within hours if he doesn't toe the line on these issues.

    And as regards the businesses/state agencies, this has a bullying effect because all these groups will have many No supporters among their employees and they are going to feel very uncomfortable speaking out from the point of view of their careers. Hence they feel bullied and this is why so many of these groups normally stayed neutral during these kind of heated political debates in the past.

    2) Because so many Yes supporters have taken a very insulting line against No campaigners. Insulting their religion frequently and their - actually very justified - pride in Ireland's past nearly as often. Here for example is Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight hosting articulating some of the actually milder but very typical Yes views:
    "I don't like mixing business with politics or religion. Unfortunately the current referendum seems
    to mix politics and religion along with a few other ingredients and it all makes for a rather potent
    cocktail! So why did my views change? Simply put the NO camp annoyed me. More than that they actually made me angry. They offended me. They offended my family.
    They offended my friends. They offended my employees. They offended the entire country."
    ( https:[email protected]/why-i-m-...s-6351160f3517 )
    That view seems to epitomize a lot of the attitude of the Yes campaign. Its not so much about the issues or the legal x, y or z but moreso how they are desperately offended and embarrassed at having to share a country with these neanderthal No types. How they come out in a rash anytime they see a No poster - and resist the temptation to pull it down, or not as the case may be - or hear them in a debate etc.

    How can anybody not be bullied by that way of debating? And it is absolutely characteristic of the Yes campaign.

    3) Their bullying attitude in trying to close down all discussion of children. Ad infinitum they go on about how stupid and willfully ignorant No campaigners are for raising surrogacy and gay adoption when its supposed to have nothing to do with SSM.

    But since time immemorial you cannot talk about marriage without throwing in some reference to children somewhere along the line? And how do you get children in the context of Same Sex Marriage except via gay adoption or surrogacy? Hence of course its relevant and again this blanket attempt to shout people down like this is a bullying sort of approach I think.

    Does the bullying derive from a sense of insecurity?
    (I apologise that as we go into this I may be somewhat critical of some in the LGBT community but I think there are issues here that genuinely need to be addressed and seem to get to the real core of this debate.)

    But this brings with it a deeper analysis I think, why do we get this bullying? Well my headmaster used to say in his annual anti-bullying speech that bullies have a 'want' in them somehow and thats where the bullying derives from. Well what 'want' are we referring to here then?

    You know in the Late Late Show debate on this subject we didn't learn an awful lot, mainly because I think it was too short, and the highlight was certainly watching Ham Sandwich (up Meath!), but we did get an interesting point from Una Mullally, the Irish Times journalist. She said that she often talked about marriage among her straight friends and they always said that no matter how much you get along outside marriage its only when you get married that you feel some kind of X factor, some great joy I guess. Then she said, almost tearfully, that she wanted that feeling and thats why Civil Partnership didn't cut it.

    I suppose thats our 'want' then but what is that exactly? What magical sensation comes over a married couple that she is referring to? I guess we could come up with two possibilities: a) the married couple read the latest legal bulletin on the constitutional advantages of marriage and secure in the legal opinion of X judge and Y barrister they feel all cosy in the marriage or b) what we are talking about is some kind of mystical sensation?

    Somehow its obviously b) we are referring to and I wonder would I bring many readers with me if I asked was that a spiritual sensation? Why not, most peoples in most societies, not least the Irish, have always recognised a spiritual side and the great philosophers from the time of the Greeks on have always said that we have a soul, whose struggles sometimes the physical side can feel etc. And, as far as I know since recorded history began, the indulgence in any sexual activities outside of marriage has been seen as impacting negatively on the soul while within in it it was always considered a healthy and good thing. Could this be what her friends are really describing?

    Anyway if this is true, and we have to speculate a bit to get to the real heart of what is driving some in the LGBT community on I think, then the bad news is that, again almost since time immemorial, homosexual activities have been considered as being always bad for a person's soul. So if Una or whoever gets married they won't get to feel that X factor? That spiritually reassuring sensation of being in harmony with your soul? So will the SSM campaign in a way never end? Will the same group then demand to be married in a church for example, after all they are entitled to be treated equally by all groups including the Church etc etc, in order to continually chase that X factor that might, if the above is correct, always allude them?

    Ok the last few paragraphs are widely speculative I admit but I think there is a core issue here. It seems to me that what we are really debating is a kind of spiritual acceptance that the LGBT community are looking for from the rest of us, at its core it seems to be really about that? And I don't think they will ever be satisfied with any step that the rest of us can take to meet that because at its core a spiritual anything cannot be delivered by secular authorities or a vote of the people etc.

    Hence unfortunately I suspect we are going to go on feeling bullied by some in the LGBT community who will never be satisfied by any step taken to accommodate them, with a Yes vote, if they get it, being only another notch on their way to getting this mythical acceptance rather than being about making 'Gra the law' at all.

    So I think at any rate.
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  7. #7
    Des Quirell Des Quirell is offline
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    scolairebocht,

    I'm really very sorry that real life happened to intrude just when we were getting engaged.

    I had really intended a greater degree of engagement. I can only thank you for your energies in replying.

    I won't reply to your last post out of politeness; I don't have the time to do so in a meaningful way, and I'd always intended that you'd have the last word if I had the first.

    Let us see how the real vote goes. Whatever way the dice fall won't really validate my word or yours.

    Thank you so much for getting involved; I appreciate that greatly and will look forward to further interactions which may well involve a laugh and the clink of glasses.

    Again, my apologies for being absent for so long. Life does that. At inopportune times, but sometimes with pleasant results.
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