Marriage Referendum: Some material for reflection

(This is about 2500 words, so you may like to print it for reading.)
Pádraig McCarthy
Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it” say the Irish Catholic bishops. When we address the matter of marriage and same-sex relationships in Ireland, who are we talking about? Both the individual LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people you or I may know, and the picture on a national level? With some knowledge, can we have a calm rational debate rather than a shouting match? With entrenched positions, this seems difficult to achieve. I hope this article may help.
The Irish Times on Friday 10 April reported that the Yes Equality group is planning 40 events nationwide. The recent Methodist Synod didn’t take a position, but recommended congregations to hold their own meetings to offer people a forum to discuss the matter. It might be good if our parishes, or groups of parishes, did something similar, to offer a safe respectful place for discussion. Perhaps there’s some national plan coming from the Bishops’ Conference? Their letter The Meaning of Marriage could offer starting material for reflection.
Projected Irish statistics:
We don’t have Irish statistics that I know of. The U.S. Department of Health did a survey of Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2013. The survey of 34,557 adults aged 18 or over was published July 2014. They were asked: “Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?”’ The replies were: Straight 96.6 %. Lesbian or Gay 1.6 %. Bisexual 0.7 %.
UK statistics in 2013 are lower. The Integrated Household Survey (2013) found 1.2% of adults identified themselves as gay or lesbian; 0.5% of adults identified themselves as bisexual.
If the US percentages are similar for Ireland, we may project the following numbers of people, based on the 2011 Census: Total population 4,588,252. Of these, 3,439,565 were aged 18 or over.
We may then estimate the following aged 18 or over: Lesbian or Gay: 55,033; Bisexual: 24,076. Total: 55,033+24,076 = 79,109.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Ireland reported that in 2013 there were 20,680 marriages registered in the State, and 338 Civil Partnerships, making a total of 21,018. The 338 Civil Partnerships are 1.61 percent of the total. The percentages may help in having an idea of how many people in your local parish or area identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual – that is, if numbers are evenly distributed around the country. It is possible that the percentages are higher in urban areas and lower in rural areas, due to migration.
Same-sex couples: statistics for Ireland:
According to the 2011 Census, there were 4,042 same sex couples living together in 2011. Of these, 2,321 (57.4%) were male while 1,721 (42.6%) were female. These 4,042 same-sex couples are 0.34 per cent of families in the State. The Census was taken on 10 April 2011, so we do not know how many of those 4,042 same-sex couples in the 2011 Census are included in the total of 1304 Civil Partnerships registered 2011 – 2013.
According to the CSO, the number of same sex couples living with one or more children was 230 (reply received from the CSO in March 2015). This is 5.69% of all same-sex couples.
Church position:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (First Edition, 1997) said:
“2358. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
The second edition of the Catechism changes the second sentence of 2358 (“They do not…”) to read: “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.”
In a three-part interview in August 2013 with Antonio Spadaro, S.J., Pope Francis said:
“In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge…
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”
It is clear that the Catholic Church has not yet succeeded in entering into the mystery of the human being with homosexual orientation (nor indeed of many others). The challenge here with those who feel that the church has always condemned them is to act to ensure it is true that “the church does not want to do this.”
The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2014 on the Pastoral Challenges for the Family stated the challenge in the “Relatio Post Disceptationem”, the discussion document on which they voted before arriving at their concluding report. The following paragraph of that draft document did not receive the two-thirds majority approval required:
“Homosexual people have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these persons, guaranteeing them a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony? … the Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman.”
It seems a pity that this, especially the first sentence there about gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community, did not make it into the final document. God is present in every love. Every member of the Church, by virtue of their human nature and by virtue of their Baptism, has gifts and qualities to offer. We have also, each one of us, our failings and disabilities, but these do not negate the gifts and qualities.
Although they did not make it to the final document, the two important questions still remain before the Church: “Are we capable of this?” They require answers.
Civil Law and the State:
In the coming May we in this State will be asked by our government whether we approve of the 34th Amendment to the Constitution: The Marriage Referendum.
It is not a question of what each person’s moral viewpoint is on homosexuality or on formalised same-sex relationships. While moral values and civil law are related, they are not identical. We see tobacco and adultery and lack of physical exercise and telling lies as harmful, but we have not criminalised them. Aquinas asked about law and moral evil: “Whether it belongs to the human law to repress all vices?” (Summa Theologica Ia IIae Q96, Article 2). Human law, he says, forbids “chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.”
Aquinas advised that unwise imposition of law when many are unable to deal with it would lead people to “break out into yet greater evils: thus it is written (Proverbs 30:33): ‘He that violently blows his nose brings out blood’; and (Matthew 9:17) that if ‘new wine,’ i.e. precepts of a perfect life, ‘is put into old bottles,’ i.e. into imperfect human beings, ‘the bottles break, and the wine is lost,’ i.e. the precepts are despised, and those people, from contempt, break into evils worse still.” (For Proverbs 30:33 see the Vulgate or Douai translation.) Aquinas had a lot of common sense about him!
So, for example, a person who is unhappy about same-sex relationships could in good conscience make a wise decision to vote in favour of appropriate legislation. Given that same-sex relationships are an established fact of life, as we see from the statistics at the start of this article, it is wise to have provision in law to address those relationships.
It is not good to have a situation where people with homosexual orientation, or any other people, experience the Church as always condemning them. Similarly, it is not good to have a civil society where people, on account of their sexual orientation, learn to live in constant fear and even to hate themselves. Many lesbian and gay people feel deeply hurt and unjustly treated and angry at being made invisible. What may seem to be an explosion of demonstrations and campaigning for Gay Pride is a very understandable reaction to a situation where gay and lesbian people have not been respected, have been seen as an embarrassment and are marginalised and subject to socially tolerated discrimination and violence.
The Marriage Referendum
The key to the matter must be to discern what the “appropriate” legislation may be. Any provisions which may be introduced are of interest immediately to the perhaps 79,109 people who identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual, but they affect all the people of the State in that they have an immediate effect on the society in which we live. This is of even greater import because of the form of change proposed: not the introduction of an enhanced Civil Partnership, but the changing of the established legal and social context of what we understand by “Marriage.”
The government have opted for the simplest possible development: taking an already existing social institution, and expanding its remit to be inclusive of same-sex couples who were previously excluded from this particular institution due to its being designated only for opposite-sex couples; and doing this in the name of a move to equality.
This is where my concern lies: that in choosing what seems to be the simplest approach, the government, and we, may choose a simplistic approach to embrace two kinds of relationship which on a surface level appear equal (two people loving one another), but are different biologically and socially. Sexuality and Marriage are highly important components of human life. There are many and varied valuable relationships, but there can be an expectation that a relationship, however casual, will quickly turn sexual. Marriage can be elevated into a Holy Grail to which all must aspire; and now, Lesbian and Gay people.
Perhaps the most immediate obvious difference relevant to law is that we have prohibited degrees of relationship in (heterosexual) Marriage. These are quite irrelevant in a same-sex relationship. As Patrick Treacy wrote in The Furrow in October 2014: “If we lived for sixty years with no homosexual relationships, we would continue to survive. If we lived for the same period with no heterosexual relationships nor union between the gametes of a male and female, we would become extinct.”
Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Irish Times, 14 Feb) asked people to consider a hypothetical No vote and the impression such a result would make abroad. Fear of that scenario, he said, should “galvanise us as much as we possibly can [be] to win this thing”. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in Castlebar on Saturday 21 February: “… a Yes vote would, I believe, send out a powerful signal internationally that Ireland has evolved into a fair, compassionate and tolerant nation.” I believe they meant well. However, the implication is that a No vote means we will show ourselves to be an unfair, non-compassionate and intolerant nation. They do not allow that a No vote to the Referendum could be sound judgment.
“Marriage Equality”
Civil Partnership as introduced in 2011 has not achieved an honourable status on a par with Marriage. Could the legal differences between the two could be changed by legislation, without a Constitutional change? If all of that were done, would it satisfy what is being asked?
If I declare myself Gay or Lesbian, I declare that a same-sex relationship reflects my orientation rather than a heterosexual relationship. This is where my “Gay Pride” resides. If we seek to formalise our status with civil authority, we declare that our relationship is not just a matter of our individual choice and rights, but is in some relationship with civil society. When the State registers such a relationship, it needs criteria to regulate who may be officially registered; these regulations may change with time.
If we as a people subsume same-sex partnerships on “equal” terms and status with heterosexual relationships, we declare that the heterosexual relationship is not normative for Marriage. We declare also that a same-sex relationship also is not normative. Hitherto Marriage was defined in terms of heterosexual relationship, and this determined an essential boundary line. This boundary line of definition is now moved, making the specific kind of sexual relationship non-normative, non-defining, non-essential. We have therefore made my sexual orientation, a component of my identity of which I am proud, a non-essential criterion for Marriage. In doing so, we also change “Marriage”, not just for me, but for all in the civil society of which I am a part. Twenty years from now, will we have any specific word in our language for what we know today as (heterosexual) Marriage?
If the current line of definition is moved on the grounds of claiming equality, will there be any rational grounds to refuse to move the line again to respond to those who identify as bisexual and who claim the right to enter equal marriage corresponding to their orientation? Will there be yet further grounds again on which people will claim their right to marriage equality?
We must not be afraid of difference, but embrace it. For the sake of both same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships, it seems to me it would be advisable not to bring them under just one legal framework, but to develop legal frameworks for each which will honour their distinct characteristics. Not the “separate but equal” of apartheid, but acknowledging diversity in unity. We have many different close personal relationships, without any question of putting them in a hierarchy of superior and inferior.
We may decide in our Referendum to include two distinct kinds of sexual relationships under the same legal framework, despite the different implications. If we do not do so, let it not be because of fear, nor of homophobia, nor discrimination, but because we decide that the relationships are sufficiently different to warrant distinct legal provisions, in order to fully respect both.
Where there are real and relevant differences, to make a distinction is not discrimination. It is wisdom.
(The full original version of this abbreviated and amended article is in the April 2015 issue of The Furrow, which I recommend.)

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  1. Wiley words. Sanctimonious words. Deceiving words. Because underpinning these 2,500 words is the official Church teaching that homosexual relationships are intrinsically disordered. The notion of two distinct relationships is based on this teaching. One normal, one intrinsically disordered. The notion of two distinct relationships is a red herring. It is the Church speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Because if there is a ‘no’ vote it will be back to the status quo, people in same-sex relationships will be categorized as being in the ‘other’ Q. Voting is one thing, the consequences of our vote is another. And it is the Church’s directive to deal with consequences. To be Servant to the poor and the outcast, those on the margins.

  2. Prodigal Son says:

    This amended version of Padraig McCarthy’s Furrow article is very reasonable. But I feel an inescapable presence of an “elephant in the room” – the question “What is marriage?” Unless this is addressed, it is not possible to make Padraig McCarthy’s argument, an argument I agree with.
    From a civil, secular viewpoint, “the established legal and social context of marriage” within the community of opposite sex attraction has already undergone serious change on foot of divorce legislation and on foot of much-changed social practice in relation to the sequencing of marriage, cohabitation, and begetting children. Those seeking the legalisation of polyamory have long planned “to move the line again” using the precedent of legalised same sex marriage to realise their agenda.
    The sensitivities/value systems invoked by both Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and the Taoiseach are central cultural driving forces combined with a developing cultural concept of marriage as primarily state recognition of private love, of an emotional bond. This being so, and on its own, there is no real secular argument against same sex marriage. What difference is there between day to day living in a civil partnership and in a marriage of a same-sex attracted couple? Those in the gay community who seek marriage regard it as a necessary, symbolic badge of honour which will eventually remove any public consciousness of any “sexual orientation” dimension in regard to marriage. And Government is not in the marriage business because it cares about the love lives of consenting adults. Give it time!
    The state of course, together with those promoting a “yes” vote have their own “elephant in the room,” namely children. At the core, Padraig McCarthy asserts the valid and necessary requirement of respect for difference. In order to develop legal frameworks “for each [marriage and Civil Partnership] which will honour their distinct characteristics,” it is necessary to describe the difference. Apart from the sex attraction characteristic, in the secular world, children are the difference, especially how children are created.
    Parts of The Children and Family Relationships Bill on the one hand and the referendum on the other are joined at the hip in purposefully intending and maintaining a state of affairs wherein some children are produced with the explicit purpose of living their formative years without either a mom or dad. This is a significant difference and a rights issue.
    But difference has still to be respected. As Padraig McCarthy stresses, this is an issue for Catholicism. It is linked to a second necessary question – “Is Church teaching good news for those of same-sex attraction?” Difference cannot be separated from reality, and what difference does God make to the reality of same sex attraction and to its being respected, to its having a vocational aspect?

  3. Michael C. says:

    I groaned when I saw yet more words on this topic.
    Could all commentators assume that adults will be voting and we are quite capable of making up our minds without this constant barrage of commentary. Please spare us your superior knowledge of these matters and give us some credence that we can decide for ourselves.
    I seriously wonder where all the focussing on sexual matters is coming from. These are not issues for the vast majority of people under 50 and indeed for many over it who no longer accept that others have some special right to tell them how to live their lives.
    How often did Jesus speak of homosexuality as opposed to poverty? We all need to move on to what really matters.

    1. It only took Fergus Finlay 12 words to sum it up; “Gays should be allowed marry the person they love. It’s that simple”.

  4. Cornelius martin says:

    It’s not clear what Michael C (3) means by “superior knowledge.” I realise how little of it I have when I try to think seriously about the consequences that follow what one superior mind of my acquaintance calls the “codification of same-sex marriage” by a “yes vote.” He lists a number of things.
    Firstly, new forms of relationship among extended families as the new “marrieds” become integrated and the number of three-parent households increases. There will be newer and newer unstoppable uses of technology in human “reproduction.” As these skills grow, more minute examinations of babes in the womb will be done to identify more physical defects and improve the methods of the “new eugenics.” And there is the question of how children raised without either father or mother will respond to the decisions made about them before birth. I’m sure those with three genetic parents will be glad to have been spoiled so much. And on and on.
    Another superior minded friend predicts that with a “yes vote” under its belt, the state will feel confident to say that human “rights” will be determined and defined by civil law alone. Indeed some human beings will have no “right” to exist apart from the civil law’s decision about how human life is created, when it begins and ends, when it is compatible with life or deserves continued existence.
    On the plus side every citizen will have a “right” not merely to pursue happiness, but to be happy. It will be the function of the state to guarantee and bring this right to its completion. Better again, virtue will be said to be a habit whereby we are able to do or say what we want, whatever it is, provided the state allows it. State guaranteed.
    I’m not certain I should show my friend’s next prediction to my parish priest. The Dail is now confident that the words “God,” Logos, Trinity, Incarnation, Jesus and Redemption are incoherent and have no legal standing. They are unrelated to anything in reality. (Strange to say but one of the words is still allowed in the Dail bar.) Verses 3-5 of psalm 95 are a gonner. I fear Father may become less sure about that conscience clause the state has recently promised him.

  5. Fintan J Power says:

    @ Tony April 15th. If it were only that simple, except it isn’t. Kay Faust who was raised by a same sex couple wrote recently to Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of the nine justices of the USA supreme court. This is her letter. It is an eye opener.
    Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent
    Redefining marriage promotes a family structure in which children suffer.
    Katy Faust | Feb 10 2015
    Dear Justice Kennedy,
    June is nigh, and with it will come your ruling on the most contentious political issue of our time: marriage.
    I write because I am one of many children with gay parents who believe we should protect marriage. I believe you were right when, during the Proposition 8 deliberations, you said “the voice of those children [of same-sex parents] is important.” I’d like to explain why I think redefining marriage would actually serve to strip these children of their most fundamental rights.
    It’s very difficult to speak about this subject, because I love my mom. Most of us children with gay parents do. We also love their partner(s). You don’t hear much from us because, as far as the media are concerned, it’s impossible that we could both love our gay parent(s) and oppose gay marriage. Many are of the opinion I should not exist. But I do, and I’m not the only one.
    This debate, at its core, is about one thing.
    It’s about children.
    The definition of marriage should have nothing to do with lessening emotional suffering within the homosexual community. If the Supreme Court were able to make rulings to affect feelings, racism would have ended fifty years ago. Nor is this issue primarily about the florist, the baker, or the candlestick-maker, though the very real impact on those private citizens is well-publicized.
    The Supreme Court has no business involving itself in romance or interpersonal relationships. I hope very much that your ruling in June will be devoid of any such consideration.
    Government Should Promote the Well-being of Children
    Children are the reason government has any stake in this discussion at all. Congress was spot on in 1996 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act,stating:
    At bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.
    There is no difference between the value and worth of heterosexual and homosexual persons. We all deserve equal protection and opportunity in academe, housing, employment, and medical care, because we are all humans created in the image of God.
    However, when it comes to procreation and child-rearing, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are wholly unequal and should be treated differently for the sake of the children.
    When two adults who cannot procreate want to raise children together, where do those babies come from? Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right. When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.
    Making policy that intentionally deprives children of their fundamental rights is something that we should not endorse, incentivize, or promote.
    The Voices of the Children
    When you emphasized how important the voices of children with gay parents are, you probably anticipated a different response. You might have expected that the children of same-sex unions would have nothing but glowing things to say about how their family is “just like everyone else’s.” Perhaps you expected them to tell you that the only scar on their otherwise idyllic life is that their two moms or two dads could not be legally married. If the children of these unions were all happy and well-adjusted, it would make it easier for you to deliver the feel-good ruling that would be so popular.
    I identify with the instinct of those children to be protective of their gay parent. In fact, I’ve done it myself. I remember how many times I repeated my speech: “I’m so happy that my parents got divorced so that I could know all of you wonderful women.” I quaffed the praise and savored the accolades. The women in my mother’s circle swooned at my maturity, my worldliness. I said it over and over, and with every refrain my performance improved. It was what all the adults in my life wanted to hear. I could have been the public service announcement for gay parenting.
    I cringe when I think of it now, because it was a lie. My parents’ divorce has been the most traumatic event in my thirty-eight years of life. While I did love my mother’s partner and friends, I would have traded every one of them to have my mom and my dad loving me under the same roof. This should come as no surprise to anyone who is willing to remove the politically correct lens that we all seem to have over our eyes.
    Kids want their mother and father to love them, and to love each other. I have no bitterness toward either of my parents. On the contrary, I am grateful for a close relationship with them both and for the role they play in my children’s lives. But loving my parents and looking critically at the impact of family breakdown are not mutually exclusive.
    Now that I am a parent, I see clearly the beautiful differences my husband and I bring to our family. I see the wholeness and health that my children receive because they have both of their parents living with and loving them. I see how important the role of their father is and how irreplaceable I am as their mother. We play complementary roles in their lives, and neither of us is disposable. In fact, we are both critical. It’s almost as if Mother Nature got this whole reproduction thing exactly right.
    The Missing Parent
    I am not saying that being same-sex attracted makes one incapable of parenting. My mother was an exceptional parent, and much of what I do well as a mother is a reflection of how she loved and nurtured me. This is about the missing parent.
    Talk to any child with gay parents, especially those old enough to reflect on their experiences. If you ask a child raised by a lesbian couple if they love their two moms, you’ll probably get a resounding “yes!” Ask about their father, and you are in for either painful silence, a confession of gut-wrenching longing, or the recognition that they have a father that they wish they could see more often. The one thing that you will not hear is indifference.
    What is your experience with children who have divorced parents, or are the offspring of third-party reproduction, or the victims of abandonment? Do they not care about their missing parent? Do those children claim to have never had a sleepless night wondering why their parents left, what they look like, or if they love their child? Of course not. We are made to know, and be known by, both of our parents. When one is absent, that absence leaves a lifelong gaping wound.
    The opposition will clamor on about studies where the researchers concluded that children in same-sex households allegedly fared “even better!” than those from intact biological homes. Leave aside the methodological problems with such studies and just think for a moment.
    If it is undisputed social science that children suffer greatly when they are abandoned by their biological parents, when their parents divorce, when one parent dies, or when they are donor-conceived, then how can it be possible that they are miraculously turning out “even better!” when raised in same-sex-headed households? Every child raised by “two moms” or “two dads” came to that household via one of those four traumatic methods. Does being raised under the rainbow miraculously wipe away all the negative effects and pain surrounding the loss and daily deprivation of one or both parents? The more likely explanation is that researchers are feeling the same pressure as the rest of us feel to prove that they love their gay friends.
    Children Have the Right to Be Loved by Their Mother and Father
    Like most Americans, I am for adults having the freedom to live as they please. I unequivocally oppose criminalizing gay relationships. But defining marriage correctly criminalizes nothing. And the government’s interest in marriage is about the children that only male-female relationships can produce. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. It moves us well beyond our “live and let live” philosophy into the land where our society promotes a family structure where children will always suffer loss. It will be our policy, stamped and sealed by the most powerful of governmental institutions, that these children will have their right to be known and loved by their mother and/or father stripped from them in every instance. In same-sex-headed households, the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child.
    Have we really arrived at a time when we are considering institutionalizing the stripping of a child’s natural right to a mother and a father in order to validate the emotions of adults?
    Justice Kennedy, I have long admired your consistency when ruling on the well-being of children, and I implore you to stay the course. I truly believe you are invested in the equal protection of all citizens, and it is your sworn duty to uphold that protection for the most vulnerable among us. The bonds with one’s natural parents deserve to be protected. Do not fall prey to the false narrative that adult feelings should trump children’s rights. The onus must be on adults to conform to the needs of children, not the other way around.
    This is not about being against anyone. This is about what I am for. I am for children! I want all children to have the love of their mother and their father. Being for children also makes me for LGBT youth. They deserve all the physical, social, and emotional benefits of being raised by their mother and father as well. But I fear that, in the case before you, we are at the mercy of loud, organized, well-funded adults who have nearly everyone in this country running scared.
    Six adult children of gay parents are willing to stand against the bluster of the gay lobby and submit amicus briefs for your consideration in this case. I ask that you please read them. We are just the tip of the iceberg of children currently being raised in gay households. When they come of age, many will wonder why the separation from one parent who desperately mattered to them was celebrated as a “triumph of civil rights,” and they will turn to this generation for an answer.
    What should we tell them?
    Katy Faust serves on the Academic and Testimonial Councils of the International Children’s Rights Institute and writes at She is the mother of four, the youngest of whom was adopted from China.
    Note: Justice Anthony Kennedy is one of nine judges of the US Supreme Court. He is regarded as “swing vote”, a liberal who could side with the conservatives judges of the court when it decides in June whether the US Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry.

    1. Fintan. It is that simple.
      The Republic of Ireland is not governed by the constitution of the U.S.
      The matters you refer you have been dealt with by way of legislation by our Parliament in the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015, (whether one agrees with it or not is a different matter); and are not the subject matter of the referendum.
      I still think the few 12 words far outweigh the hundreds, thousands?
      It is simple. Are gay people to be treated as equal or not?

  6. Joe O'Leary says:

    Katy Faust says that “children suffer greatly when they are abandoned by their biological parents, when their parents divorce, when one parent dies, or when they are donor-conceived.” Suppose, though, that a gay man adopts an abandoned child, or brings up his child as a widower or divorcee — and suppose that the man forms a couple with another man. In those situations the welfare of the child would surely be enhanced if the couple had equal social recognition as married and if the child had equal social recognition as having parents just like other children. I do not agree with donor-conception however, as this does raise the issues that Katy Faust and Cornelius Martin seem to be incorrectly extending to the other situations.
    I also find it unconvincing when Katy Faust sweeps away all the studies showing that children of gay couples fare well.

  7. Prodigal Son says:

    Apart from three recent studies including those of Mark Regnerus and Loren Marks, practically no research regarding the outcomes of same sex parenting compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children. The available data, which are drawn primarily from small convenience samples, (that is people volunteering) on the same sex side are insufficient to support a strong generalizable claim either way. In most of the studies, conclusions on children’s outcomes are based on the views of “parents” on the same sex side. Some have no samples from the opposite sex attraction side.
    Mark Regnerus’s study is one of the most comprehensive to date, uses large sample sizes, is based on random sampling on both sides, and on the evidence of grown children, not of parents. It does not support the theory that children fare as well in gay parenting situations. Regnarus admits however that even his study suffers from dispute as to what constitutes undisputed examples of gay parenting.
    Regnerus and Marks papers are consistent with the social science consensus that existed at the turn of the millennium: to be raised in an intact biological family presents clear advantages for children over other forms of parenting – the conviction that the gold standard for raising children is still the intact, biological family. For that reason it is logical that such families should have preference when adoption is being considered for a child.
    I disagree with Tony (7) on two points. Does he recognise that the referendum copper fastens the deprivations imposed on children by the Children and Family Relationships Bill – they cannot be revoked by the Dail on foot of a successful “yes” vote? A successful “yes” vote therefore creates a new inequality among children – those with fathers and mothers and those deprived unnecessarily of one of both. Should the rights of children not always trump the desires of adults? We should also note the restrictions on free speech and religious freedom that have followed the introduction of gay marriage in the US and Canada.

  8. Fintan J Power says:

    @Tony, April 16th,
    The issue before the Supreme Court in the USA is the same as is before our electorate on May 22nd next. You are not the first person to brush aside the concerns that a child brought up by a same sex couple has. Kate Faust is not a lone voice. Others such Dawn Stefanowicz, who has written a book on the subject(Coming Out From Under) and Prof Robert Oscar Lopez have also met with derision and attempts to silence them by the LGBT community in the USA. The LGBT in the USA have closed their minds to their concerns and have tried to silence them. Why? Because the truth is too uncomfortable. Children raised by same sex pairings are at a considerable disadvantage compared with those raised by their own parents. They face the possibilities of confusion about sexual identity, being brought up in a perverse social environment, missing the essential elements of a normal upbringing that an adult male role model or an adult female role model brings to the rearing as the real mother or father.
    Words matter. They always have. In the beginning was the word. We are using words to communicate. The pleading of children who have been raised by same sex couples should not be ignored. Surely one of the lessons we should learn from Ireland’s abuse of children is that we should no longer put children in harm’s way? Kate Faust has related her story above. Others such as Dawn Stefanowicz and Robert Oscar Lopez also relate truly sad and disturbing stories where they miss the essential elements of a normal upbringing that normal parenting brings to the rearing as the real mother or father. Being brought up in the strange environment that same sex pairings have to offer is not something to which children anywhere should be subjected to.
    Our referendum is not about equality it is about trying to make something impossible real, like trying to square a circle or trying make an apple into an orange. It is also about giving in to the desires of adults and against the rights of children to be raised by their own natural parents.
    The Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 passed through both houses of the Oireachtas with little discussion except for addresses by a few brave and concerned voices. There was an extraordinary unity of both the Government and opposition parties on the matter. That tells us how much they are all out of touch or simply don’t care. That bill has yet to be enacted. It can be challenged before the courts. The Government, in a cynical fashion, put it though before the referendum in an effort to soften up the passage of the referendum. If the referendum is rejected then that bill will be on very shaky ground. There is a challenge before the Supreme Court on the last referendum about children’s rights. How strange our government could not wait for its outcome before launching the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 and the referendum on May 22nd.

  9. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Thanks for above comments.
    1: Nuala O’Driscoll: You feel strongly about it; but saying “Wiley words. Sanctimonious words. Deceiving words” does not help, unless you specify where you detect those. I am not aware of any such in the article; and I made it quite clear that what has been the Church attitude must change. What I wrote is not a defence of the Church.
    I don’t agree that the notion of two distinct relationships is a red herring. The Pride in Gay Pride is in that it is Gay, homosexual. The Pride in Heterosexual union is that it is heterosexual. Would it not be far healthier to honour both, without making one inferior to the other, and without amalgamating them under one institution? We don’t have to go the way of other jurisdictions. It’s not “separate but equal”, but seeing the full rainbow, together.
    2: Prodigal son: “What is marriage?” Yes, this is central; but you don’t give an answer either.
    3: Michael C: Yes, I groan too, when I see “yet more words on this topic.” But my groan is because the predominant approach on the Yes side presumes that same-sex marriage is the best or only way of addressing the topic, as does the government; and the government presents us with just that one solution. On the No side, there is little attention to proposing any other way; and the predominant factor is children, which is clearly relevant, but as I see it, it is not the central issue. I do not have superior knowledge of these matters; rather, I try to present a coherent alternative.
    4 & 7: Tony: Fergus Finlay’s 12 simple words: Whether the vote is Yes or No, people will still love one another. The question is whether it is wise, legally and socially, to bring same-sex and heterosexual relationships under the same legal provisions. This is not at all simple.
    Are gay people to be treated as equal or not? Yes, with due respect for relevant diversity. The law does not treat a 7-year-old the same as a 27-year-old. The contract for sale of a building is not the same as a contract of employment. In the topic of this discussion, it’s clear you see the legal contract of a same-sex couple as the same as that of a heterosexual couple. For relevant biological and social reasons, I think the law should recognise both, without making one inferior to the other. It’s unlikely we’ll come to an agreement on this.
    5: Cornelius Martin: I’ll have to think about that!
    6: Fintan J Power: Yes, it is good to listen to the experiences, good and bad, of those raised by a same-sex couple.
    8: Joe O’Leary and 9: Prodigal Son: There are many situations which develop due to the circumstances of life, where a child does not have the benefit of a loving mother and father, and we do our best to provide for such situations. The question before us here is whether it is good to deliberately design a scenario where the child has no chance from the word go of being cared for by his or her own biological mother and father.
    Joe: you rightly don’t agree with sweeping away all the studies “showing that children of gay couples fare well” (keeping in mind that whoever the couple are, there can be cases of children not faring well). But neither should we sweep away studies showing that children of gay couples, on average, may face greater difficulty. A relevant study using a large sample, published in February 2015 is “Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents” by D Paul Sullins. It is available for download. The fact that he is on the staff of the Department of Sociology of The Catholic University of America should not prevent us from looking objectively at his findings.
    The Abstract says: Methodology: Using a representative sample of 207,007 children, including 512 with same-sex parents, from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, prevalence in the two groups was compared for twelve measures of emotional problems, developmental problems, and affiliated service and treatment usage, with controls for age, sex, and race of child and parent education and income. Results: Emotional problems were over twice as prevalent (minimum risk ratio (RR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-3.0) for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents.
    I am not competent to assess the various studies; none should be swept away without good reason.

  10. Joe O'Leary says:

    Dawn Stefanowicz talks of her father who was gay and neglected her mother — this it NOT against gay marriage but against a marriage of a gay man and a woman and its devastating effects on the wife and in this case the children as well. Somerset Maugham pointed out almost a century ago that such marriages cause great damage to the wives. The legalization of samesex marriage could reduce the number of such tragic situations. Her video here is produced by the religious right:

  11. Joe O'Leary says:

    Robert Oscar López makes his case here:
    This is a bit of a sob story — obviously he is a highly provocative internet warrior and gives as good as he gets. That he was publicly heckled is what many well-known figures have to deal with — I saw such eminences as Hans Küng and Martin Walser heckled, unfairly, the one by rightwing Catholics, the other by excited students complaining about an ancient utterance where the now aged novelist had said something along the lines of “let’s get beyond Auschwitz”
    See alsoópez-aka-bobby-lopez
    If he stuck to his material about Children of Gays it might be more convincing, but I doubt that his reports are all that objective. He is writing along with Dawn Stefanowicz and Katy Faust. As I mentioned above, the first is a Child of a Gay parent, but was not parented in a samesex marriage, and her experience could be used as an argument for samesex marriage. In general, the material López presents seems rather scanty.

  12. Joe O'Leary says:

    I think the preference for civil unions over gay marriage is a “generational thing”. Older gay men were doubly indoctrinated against the very idea of gay marriage, first by their upbringing, then by the accents of the first big wave of gay lib, which did not promote marriage or even stable relationships. Younger people both gay and straight seem to take marriage equality as a no-brainer.
    “The Pride in Gay Pride is in that it is Gay, homosexual. The Pride in Heterosexual union is that it is heterosexual.”
    I think the current prevalent language has got beyond this kind of identity politics. The Rainbow Coalition and the use of the phrase lgbt sets up a wider platform than “Gay Pride”. The very idea of equality goes beyond fetishized identity formations and really amounts to people saying “treat us the same as everyone else”.
    ” Would it not be far healthier to honour both, without making one inferior to the other, and without amalgamating them under one institution?”
    No, because it perpetuates the idea that gays are so “different” that they cannot be treated as ordinary human beings with ordinary human rights.
    “the predominant approach on the Yes side presumes that same-sex marriage is the best or only way of addressing the topic, as does the government; and the government presents us with just that one solution.”
    Well the alternative “solution” is civil marriage, already legal in Ireland.
    “The question before us here is whether it is good to deliberately design a scenario where the child has no chance from the word go of being cared for by his or her own biological mother and father.”
    This is an argument against surrogacy, not against gay marriage and adoption by gay couples. In some cases one of the partners may be the biological parent, as a divorcee, widower; the child in the former case is not necessarily cut off from the other biological parent any more than in other divorce situations).
    “Emotional problems were over twice as prevalent (minimum risk ratio (RR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-3.0) for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents.”
    I would like to know if this is due to the poor parenting of the couples, to external (and changing) social factors such as homophobia, to prior factors such as the fact that the kids had to be adopted (measuring this against adoptees of male-female couples), or primarily to the fact of the couples being of only one sex. Also are the children of married samesex couples faring better or worse than the children (biological or adopted) of single gay men or women, or of unmarried gay couples, or of gay couples in civil partnerships?

  13. Joe O'Leary says:

    Often people say that children of samesex parents will be exposed to bullying and ridicule. Sullins does not support this:
    ” Like instability, stigmatization has a powerful effect on child emotional distress, but accounts for none of the difference between same-sex families and opposite-sex families. The risk of emotional problems is over four times (4.33) greater among children who have been picked on or bullied by their peers than among those who have not, but including stigmatization in the model has no explanatory effect on the relative risk due to having same-sex parents, actually increasing it slightly (from 2.36 to 2.38). As Table 2 indicates, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE] my emphasis] between children with opposite-sex and same-sex parents in exposure to bullying; in fact, contrary to the assumption underlying this hypothesis, children with opposite-sex parents are picked on and bullied more than those with same-sex parents, though the overall difference is not above sampling variation. Moreover, the interaction term between bullying and same-sex/opposite-sex parents (not shown) is not significant. In sum, while the experience of peer rejection, abuse or stigmatization is strongly associated with child emotional problems, it appears that the rate of abuse and susceptibility to emotional distress due to stigmatization does not differentiate sharply between children in same-sex and opposite-sex families.”
    On the comparative welfare of adoptees, the report says: “Among children with no biological relationship to either parent, the prevalence of emotional problems was twice as high for ones with same-sex parents (22.0% CI 8.0-47.6) than for those with opposite-sex parents (11.2% CI 10.2-12.1). This estimate should be interpreted with caution due to the sparseness of the data.” That is, only a very small number of adoptees were considered, so the results are rather inconclusive.
    Sullins’ findings are very low key. The risk is higher for samesex parentage than for othersex parentage, but it is at about the same level as for othersex parentage in which one of the parents is not a biological parent. Moreover, the vast majority of the children studied showed no disadvantage in realty. It is a calculation of risk only. “To a large extent, the present study merely extends to same-sex families McLanahan and Sandefur’s conclusion regarding single-parent families: “Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents” regardless of the parents’ race, education and marital status, including remarriage (100). This is also true, the present study would add, regardless of whether the parents are same-sex or opposite-sex partners.” “even in the worst case conditions examined in this study, the large majority of children did not experience emotional problems. Although children fare worse in some family settings than others, to an extent that well justifies social and policy concerns about differences between family structures, including between opposite-sex and same-sex families, most children in most families achieve a level of psychosocial function that is not characterized by serious emotional problems.”
    All of this is a far cry from the scenario projected by López et al.

  14. Joe O'Leary says:

    I did not find in my quick scanning of the Sullins report the basis for the conclusion in the abstract that children of samesex parents have twice as many emotional problems.
    Doubt is cast on Sullins, for me, by his association with Regnerus, and also by the sharp reaction of the American Psychological Association along with the American Medical Association and the American Psychoanalytical Association:

  15. Joe O'Leary says:
  16. Mary Cunningham says:

    Regarding references to research findings in this debate, copied below is a letter from Professor Sheila Greene, published in the Irish Times on February 7th 2015.
    Sir, – Here we go again! Every time this nation sets out to hold a referendum on an issue touching on the personal and social lives of its citizens – whether it be divorce or abortion or, this time, equal marriage rights for same-sex couples – the opposing sides call in social science to back up their claims.
    Then we have the inevitable attempts to demolish the credibility of the studies highlighted as favouring the arguments of the opposition.
    No social science study is perfect. It is always possible to be critical about the sample size, the sampling method, the nature of or lack of a control group, etc. What must be done is to examine all relevant studies to weed out the bad from the “good enough” and then weigh the evidence from the better studies in order to identify the findings that converge and might permit the drawing of some conclusions.
    In June 2012, the American Psychological Association (APA), the largest professional organisation of psychologists in the world, said:
    “On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the APA and other health professional and scientific organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”
    – Yours, etc,
    Fellow Emeritus,
    School of Psychology,
    Trinity College Dublin

  17. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    12 – 18: Joe warns of “just more culture war fodder”. At the risk of pouring oil on the fire rather than on troubled waters, here’s more fodder, one on each side:
    Psychological Society of Ireland:
    Another Amicus Brief for US Supreme Court:
    The red flag for Joe with this second document is that Regnerus is one of the names.
    We need to ask some important questions in all the arguments:
    Is this submission serving an agenda?
    If so, can we identify that agenda?
    Can we abstract from any such agenda, and consider the substantive arguments themselves?
    “Doubt is cast on Sullins, for me, by his association with Regnerus.” So, in all of this, is doubt cast on me by my association with Joe, with whom I had table fellowship in Bewley’s last year?
    As we used to say: Disputatur inter auctores!

  18. Joe O'Leary says:

    The association with Regnerus is a working partnership — Sullins was a vocal defender of Regnerus and Regnerus and he are woking together closely. The Witherspoon Institute has raised its ugly head, enthusing about Sullins — I came across them five years ago and, yes, they have a loathsome homophobic agenda. Pádraig, don’t put our table fellowship in the same basket as these culture war alliances!
    If this were a debate about American foreign policy, I think a red flag would be raised if one found names like Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz attached to one side. One would not be showing intolerance or a closed mind in dismissing it out of hand simply because of the associations these names carry.

  19. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    19: Mary Cunningham quoting Prof Sheila Greene: “No social science study is perfect.”
    This is well worth keeping in mind. Even the American Psychological Association can change its mind.
    In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder.
    When the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, the Psychological Association followed suit in 1975.
    Despite that, “sodomy” laws in USA had been repealed in just 36 States by 2002. The remaining sodomy laws were invalidated in 2003 by a decision of the Supreme Court. Ireland had decriminalized homosexuality in 1993.
    The American Psychiatric Association had a recent “nod”.
    In October 2013, they issued a statement: It says:
    “The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has recently been published after a comprehensive multi-year research and review of all of its diagnostic categories.”
    Despite that comprehensive multi-year research and review, they still had to correct a serious error which referred to pedophilia as a sexual orientation:
    “In the case of pedophilic disorder, the diagnostic criteria essentially remained the same as in DSM-IV-TR. Only the disorder name was changed from “pedophilia” to “pedophilic disorder” to maintain consistency with the chapter’s other disorder listings.
    “Sexual orientation” is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read “sexual interest.” In fact, APA considers pedophilic disorder a “paraphilia,” not a “sexual orientation.” This error will be corrected in the electronic version of DSM-5 and the next printing of the manual.”
    The American Psychiatric Association, like any other group or person, can be influenced by the prevailing orthodoxy of the day. The eugenics movement in the early 20th century was the context for Carlos F. MacDonald, president of the American Medico-Psychological Association (precursor to the American Psychiatric Association), “American Journal of Insanity”, July, 1914. He wrote:
    “That a radical cure of the evils incident to the dependent mentally defective classes would be effected if every feeble-minded person, every imbecile, every habitual criminal, every manifestly weak-minded person, and every confirmed inebriate were sterilized, is a self-evident proposition. By this means we could practically, if not absolutely, arrest, in a decade or two, the reproduction of mentally defective persons, as surely as we could stamp out smallpox absolutely if every person in the world could be vaccinated.” In September 2014 California enacted a law to outlaw forced sterilisations in prisons.
    We must be aware that we as individuals, and also eminent professional bodies, can be influenced by dominant orthodoxy. It can be difficult to raise uncomfortable questions against the tide, but it must be done.

  20. Joe O'Leary says:

    The link to the Amicus Brief of the American College of Pediatricians does not work, but I note that despite its respectable sounding title and its illustrious acronym ACP! it is a sham organization:
    It falsifies the research of others for its ideological agenda:
    Moreover it is listed as a hate group:

  21. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    24: Joe O’Leary:
    I am aware of the dispute over the American College of Pediatricians. Whatever reservations I or you may have about them, they should not be described as a “sham organization” – there are those who would describe the ACP as a sham organization, or the Catholic Church itself. Points of disagreement (or even agreement) should be argued and debated.
    As you see above, what I have written has been described as wiley and sanctimonious and deceiving. This does not address the substance of what I have written about an alternative way of addressing the topic under debate.
    I’m sure that the Southern Poverty Law Center does much good work. They counted 784 active hate groups in the United States in 2014. However strange or objectionable those groups may be (and there are some very strange ones, not just in USA), the very fact of their drawing up a list of groups they categorise as “hate groups” is not conducive to assisting in reconciliation and peace, however difficult.
    As we have in Luke 24 for the Third Sunday of Easter, Jesus had been deserted by those who were closest in his hour of greatest need, and he was executed as a sham “King of the Jews”. He was very much a minority movement in the face of established orthodoxy.
    Yet he greeted his friends with words of peace. He sends us as witnesses of forgiveness to all the nations. Can we ourselves avoid bitter words of accusation as we seek a solution?

  22. Mary Cunningham says:

    Padraig McCarthy@23
    The one sentence you quoted is best read in context with Professor Greene’s concise piece.
    I agree, it is well worth keeping in mind–in its entirety.

  23. Joe O'Leary says:

    Pádraig, why fish in such troubled waters. The ACP is a Narth-style fake group, and cannot be compared with the American Psychological Assocation or the American Psychoanalytical Associate. Citing the declassifying of homosexuality as a mental illness as if it were not a clear progressive step is very counter-productive to any argument.
    The pedophilia is a sexual orientation seems a rather banal and even old-fashioned idea to me — a problematic orientation to be sure, but in my childhood I remember, vaguely, reading family guides to sexualty (or CTS pamphlets) where “Goodbye Mr Chips” was referred to as an example of sublimated pedophilia orientation.

  24. Padraig @ 11 and 25.
    You are puzzled by the words I used to disagree with your article. You use statistics and numbers to uphold your argument against marriage equality for same sex couples. By using statics and numbers to uphold your argument against marriage for same sex couples, you remain one step removed from the oppression caused by excluding same sex couples from marriage. That is why I used ‘wiley’.
    You say you do not agree with the teaching of the Church on homosexual relationships, but you are very much part of that establishment and the Church is not going to change, because too much would have to change. The Church holds that homosexual relationships are intrinsically disordered and evil. For the Church to admit that it is wrong in its teaching, the Church would have also to admit that it is not infallible. This will not happen. By saying that the Church must change its attitude while knowing that it will not change, to me sounds like ‘deceiving’.
    Padraig, have you ever lived with the knowledge that something you are doing in your life is intrinsically disordered and evil? But because you have no other choice you have to do it anyway? That is the sentence the Catholic Church imposes on people who believe in its teaching. Can you imagine the damage that does to a person psychologically and emotionally? The Church through its teachings and practices has inflicted more damage on people, psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually than equal marriage for same sex couples will ever do. And the two distinct relationship statuses, one ‘priority’ one ‘other’ is as I said a red herring. To describe two distinct statuses as wisdom is I believe not true, so that is why I used ‘sanctimonious’.
    ‘Who is my mother, my brothers and my sisters?’

  25. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    27 @ Joe O’Leary:
    Sorry Joe – some acronym confusion here! When you wrote: “The ACP is a Narth-style fake group”, I was wondering why you would describe the Association of Catholic Priests as a Narth-style fake group.
    Then I realised that you took it to refer to the American College of Pediatricians, whereas I had used it to refer to the association that provides us with this website.
    You also wrote: “Citing the declassifying of homosexuality as a mental illness as if it were not a clear progressive step is very counter-productive to any argument.”
    I cited it simply as an example to show that a prestigious professional association can sometimes get it wrong, as in that classification; so quoting such an association, while persuasive, is not necessarily conclusive.
    The error in the current print edition of their DSM is simply an example of how a mistake can occur, even with comprehensive multi-year research and review.

  26. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    28 @ Nuala O’Driscoll:
    I’m still puzzled.
    You write that I used “statistics to uphold and numbers to uphold your argument against marriage equality for same sex couples.” I did not use the statistics to argue either for or against. I simply presented them in order to have some idea of the topic under discussion. In fact, the statistics I presented would seem a strong argument for the need to take action in the situation. What they do not do is suggest what the remedy would be. There is nothing “wiley” in this.
    The attitude of the Church needs to change. You write: “By saying that the Church must change its attitude while knowing that it will not change, to me sounds like ‘deceiving’.” I do not know that it will not change. How and when I do not know; I hope it will not be long. There is no deception here.
    You write: “And the two distinct relationship statuses, one ‘priority’ one ‘other’ is as I said a red herring. To describe two distinct statuses as wisdom is I believe not true, so that is why I used ‘sanctimonious’.”
    I wrote: “Not the ‘separate but equal’ of apartheid, but acknowledging diversity in unity. We have many different close personal relationships, without any question of putting them in a hierarchy of superior and inferior.” I said nothing about any “one ‘priority’ one ‘other’.” There must be no question of superior and inferior. There is no red herring whatever here. There is nothing sanctimonious here.
    Perhaps you did not notice the following part of my article, which says in different words something like you say in your comment:
    “It is not good to have a situation where people with homosexual orientation, or any other people, experience the Church as always condemning them. Similarly, it is not good to have a civil society where people, on account of their sexual orientation, learn to live in constant fear and even to hate themselves. Many lesbian and gay people feel deeply hurt and unjustly treated and angry at being made invisible. What may seem to be an explosion of demonstrations and campaigning for Gay Pride is a very understandable reaction to a situation where gay and lesbian people have not been respected, have been seen as an embarrassment and are marginalised and subject to socially tolerated discrimination and violence.”
    On this, I am sure, we do not differ.

    1. I don’t wish to personalise this but is this type of ping pong, you said, I said, helpful to anyone in this debate?
      Has it clarified any single issue for anyone or is it just a circular argument using statements of polarised already decided positions.
      Sorry, but it is too much for me. If only all the problems affecting so many people could generate a quarter of the energy!
      I’m declaring my own moratorium and tuning out of this thread.

  27. Fintan J Power says:

    @ Mary Cunningham
    ‘In June 2012, the American Psychological Association (APA) etc…’ Except that they offered no actual proof for their assertion.

  28. Fintan J Power says:

    @ 14 Joe O’Leary
    It is always easy to knock those people you don’t agree with or want to listen to especially if they are relating something that goes against your own position.
    Diane Roberston in a blog for The United Families International writes about3 Ways Gay Marriage Has Changed Canada.(She quotes from Dawn Stefanowicz, who has bravely opened up the issue)
    ‘In 2005, Canada quietly legalized gay marriage. Unlike the United States, there was never a fight or a court case, or really much ado about it. It just happened. And since then, we haven’t heard if gay marriage changed anything about Canada. Until now…
    Canadian citizen and daughter of a gay man, Dawn Stefanowicz, has begun to discuss not only her life as a child of a gay man, but what gay marriage has done to Canada. These are 3 ways gay marriage has changed all of Canadian society.
    Parenting: The laws surrounding parenthood and parental rights immediately changed.The bill that legalized gay marriage (Bill C-38) included a provision to redefine parenthood from “natural parents” to “legal parents”. Children no longer have a legal right to both their biological parents. And biological parents no longer have a legal right to their children.Additionally, same sex marriage has infringed upon important parental rights for all parents. The Human Rights Commission began regulating parents’ ability to teach their children their beliefs, opinions, and faith if the parents’ beliefs are different from what the schools teach and promote.
    Stefanowicz explains:
    “If you teach your children that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong and that every child has a father and a mother, and that only man-woman sex in marriage is allowed, you run the risk of thought police questioning your beliefs, especially if your children discuss these subjects in the classroom.
    Consequently, parents experience state interference when it comes to moral values and teachings about family, parenting and sex education in schools.”
    Speech: Hate speech became a crime in 2004. Hate speech can be defined as anyone disagreeing with homosexual behavior. Though the hate speech section of the law was repealed for 2014, most provinces have additional hate speech laws that have the same effect. Before the repeal, the Human Rights Commissions of Canada had a 100% conviction rate. If someone filed a “hate speech” complaint against someone, that person had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The Human Rights Commission still has power to enter private residences and remove anything pertinent to an investigation involving speech. This has essentially nullified the ability for Canadians to speak and write freely including on the internet.The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has censored all media. Broadcasting licenses can be revoked if a television or radio station airs anything that can be considered anti-lgbt.
    Religious Freedom: Employers, business owners and all alike whether large, small, in home, or family owned do not have the freedom to deny any service to LGBT for religious reasons. There has been no wedding cake battle in Canada. It’s just illegal. In fact, what is preached in churches can be brought before the Human Rights Commission.Again, Stefanowicz explains:“Freedom to assemble and speak freely about man-woman marriage, family and sexuality are restricted. Activists often sit in on religious assemblies, listening for anything discriminatory towards GLBT, so a complaint can be made to the Human Rights Commission. Most faith communities have become politically correct to avoid fines and loss of charitable status.”
    It has been ten years since gay marriage became legal in Canada. Since that time laws that offered freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and religious freedom have essentially been overturned in favor of protecting the feelings of a very small part of the Canadian population. The rights of parents and children have been trampled. A change in marriage laws affects all in a nation. A nation cannot redefine family, the basic unit of society, without serious consequences for everyone.’

  29. Joe O'Leary says:

    I wrote a response to Nuala which does not seem to have gone through. Here is it again:
    I would say that the mainstream Christian churches including our own have changed remarkably over the last decades. Where at best gays and lesbians might look for a discreet pastoral understanding in the past, they now find bishops publicly upholding the validity of gay relationships and civil partnerships (despite a document from the CDF in the 1990s opposing any such recognition in the civil law). Irish bishops are now saying, “we should improve and enhance civil partnerships to make theme equal in dignity with marriage” — which may be what Pope Francis said in Argentina, clashing with his fellow-bishops there. If established groups like the US groups who hold authority on psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis, and on the training and supervision of practitioners in those fields, can change their “science” in response to recognition of the facts and of the damage they have been doing, then why should faith-groups, even highly respected and respectable churches, not do the same? You seem to think that bishops believe “the church can never have been wrong so we cannot change” or that they and the Vatican are involved in the wiliest mental acrobatics to avoid the appearance of change. This is often said, especially in regard to Humanae Vitae, and it is true that a pastoral accommodation is favoured over having to alter official teaching even in the realm of ethics (where no dogma is involved). Perhaps the difficulty in the present debate is that the church sees marriage not as an ethical issue but as a dogmatic one. Marriage figures prominently in four theological discipllnes — canon law, which is revisable, moral theology, which cultivates ongoing critical reflection on basic principles and their application (casuistry etc.), pastoral theology, which is extremely flexible, and — here’s the rub — dogmatic theology where marriage is a Sacrament and grounded in the order of Creation. If the church accepted gay marriage, even civilly, it would bring an upheaval in all four areas. That might be a salutary upheaval, but it would constitute a very clear reversal, rather than a mere flexible accommodation, of what is written in official documents. I do not get the impression that bishops generally are fighting gay marriage tooth and nail. The church can live with a regime of civil samesex marriage as it does with a regime of civil divorce while still upholding its theological vision of marriage intact.

  30. Joe O'Leary says:

    Fintan, if you can show that the organization that I called a sham (the “American College of Pediatricians”) is not, please do so. Don’t tell me “it’s easy to knock those you don’t agree with” — tell me rather why it is so easy to see this sham and why you seem to accept it as genuine, despite what qualified people and organizations say about it.
    All I said about Dawn Stephanowicz is that she does not represent first-hand testimony about samesex parenting, but just an opinion based on her bad experience with her gay father and on her Christian faith. I did not “knock” her. She is being lionized by Christian conservatives who seem unable to find any convincing poster-child for their cause. I pointed out that her bad experience of a mismatch between her gay father and heterosexual mother points to a very widespread traumatic situation which recognition of samesex marriage is likely to make less common.
    That gay marriage has changed Canada is no doubt true, but the change may be for the good.
    In Dawn Stephanowicz’s opinion it has damaged parenting: How? A bill redefined parenthood from biological parents to legal parents. As far as I know step-parents and adoptive parents are considered as equal in legal status to biological parents in normal countries, and biological parents who would want to reclaim their child from the adoptive parents are not necessarily or even commonly granted this by the law.
    “Children no longer have a legal right to both their biological parents.”
    I do not think such a right is formulated in Irish law either. If an adopted child said “I want to be raised by my real parents,” the court would uphold the rights of the legal adoptive parents. Otherwise chaos would ensue.
    “If you teach your children that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong and that every child has a father and a mother, and that only man-woman sex in marriage is allowed, you run the risk of thought police questioning your beliefs, especially if your children discuss these subjects in the classroom.”
    But even in a regime of civil partnership the same issue arises. Catholic schoolteachers who excoriate samesex sexual relationships (or even who excoriate remarried divorcees) are quite likely to draw the ire of their pupils’ parents on their heads.
    “Consequently, parents experience state interference when it comes to moral values and teachings about family, parenting and sex education in schools.”
    This problem applies to many aspects of the educational system and is not specific to gay marriage.
    ” Speech: Hate speech became a crime in 2004. Hate speech can be defined as anyone disagreeing with homosexual behavior. Though the hate speech section of the law was repealed for 2014, most provinces have additional hate speech laws that have the same effect.”
    Again this is another area of tension that has nothing specific to do with gay marriage. In fact the hate speech legislation came BEFORE gay marriage and was repealed AFTER gay marriage!
    ” Before the repeal, the Human Rights Commissions of Canada had a 100% conviction rate.” I have never heard of 100% conviction rates for any offence anywhere. Perhaps the number of those accused was 2 or 3 and the 2 or 3 were found guilty, hence 100% conviction rate?
    “Employers, business owners and all alike whether large, small, in home, or family owned do not have the freedom to deny any service to LGBT for religious reasons. There has been no wedding cake battle in Canada. It’s just illegal. In fact, what is preached in churches can be brought before the Human Rights Commission.”
    Well, the insane preacher I linked to above who called for the stoning of gays should be brought to justice. The pulpit does not enjoy legal immunity in Ireland either. Libel or hate speech from the altar are actionable.
    The points made by Ms Stephanowicz all pertain to the effect of political correctness in Canadian society and have nothing to do with the real-life experiences of children raised by gay couples. I agree with her that political correctness has been very constricting on our freedom in recent years and has gone too far. But this is not an effect of gay marriage. It is an effect of deeper awareness of the rights and dignity of many categories of people.
    As a teacher I have had to watch my speech, here in Japan, much more carefully in recent years than in the more relaxed days of the past. We receive from the university administration detailed guidelines about four categories of abuse which amount to the idea that anything that makes anyone feel “uncomfortable” can get you into great trouble. But to use this discomfort with political correctness as a pretext for knocking the institution of gay marriage and the mature and responsible people who undertake the commitments it entails (and about which Ms Stephanowicz has actually found nothing critical to say) is illogical.

  31. Joe O'Leary says:

    As I suspected, the 100% conviction rate mentioned above refers to a small number of cases — 13, of which 11 were brought by one zealous complainant:
    This has nothing at all to do with the issue of samesex marriage, and the civil libertarians who complained against the Human Rights Commission would also support the right to samesex marriage.
    Piggybacking on the unpopularity of the HRC to take sideswipes at gay marriage is simply illogical.

  32. Joe O'Leary says:

    The most famous critic of the Canadian HRC and its repressive regime of political correctness is Noam Chomsky, who also says that marriage equality “is important; I agree with it”.

  33. Fintan Power’s piece on the Canadian experience is thought-provoking indeed, in what it predicts about the scenario to follow a Yes vote in our May Referendum. It strengthens my view that this referendum is very premature, and would be better held in 10 years time, when we will have a fuller understanding of the effects of equating as marriage both hetero- and same-sex relationships.
    As an occasional gambling man, I’d predict that a No vote this time will really equate to a “Not-Yet” vote, since it’s virtually certain that if the referendum fails this time it will be put to another vote further down the road. By then there should be a more reliable set of social studies available, to indicate whether changing the definition of marriage is a good idea or not. On the other hand, a after a majority Yes vote it will hardly be possible to ever return to the status quo, no matter what the consequences for society, child-rearing and family identity may turn out to be.

  34. Joe O'Leary says:

    I notice that Irish law, in the case of surrogacy, treats the birth mother as the legal mother, though the child was conceived from a different mother. Even without legalization of surrogacy such determinations have to be made. Does this not mean that the redefinition of parenthood from natural parent to legal parent, deplored by Dawn Stephanowicz in Canada, is already present in Irish law? (However, it seems that the child of a surrogate mother has a genetic relationship to both mothers,) Surrogacy seems to me a very bad and unnatural idea.

  35. patrogers @ 38.
    The status quo is a safe place to be. To change is to have to deal with consequences and fear of the unknown. Christianity was founded on radical change. The abolition of circumcision was one of the most defining moments in Church history, if not the most. There were two things. Paul knew it was right to abolish the need for circumcision. That was the first thing. The second was the consequences of the abolition. Paul did not let fear of the consequences prevent him from doing the right thing, going up against the leaders of the Jewish Christian community, James, Cephas and John, or the fear that he Paul, an orthodox Jew, would be breaking the Law. Abolishing the need for circumcision was an act of inclusion, including all kinds of pagan riff raff.
    To vote ‘no’ in this referendum is to play it safe, not to have to deal with all kinds of unknowns. To vote ‘yes’ is to paddle out into uncharted waters. Christianity was founded on radical change, radical inclusion and most of all on radical Love. Has Christianity lost its way?

  36. Joe O’Leary @ 34.
    Thank you for your detailed theological explanation. While I am not qualified or articulate enough to respond to it I’ll definitely put the kettle on now and study it.

  37. Prodigal Son says:

    Mary Cuningham at 18
    Re Professor Sheila Greene, published in the Irish Times on February 7th 2015.
    Professor Shelia Green is mistaken because the research as I said at 9 above is not trustworthy. The principal reason resides around the difficulty of finding what can unambiguously be people raised by same-sex parents. Even more difficult still is at this stage in history to find children raised by married same-sex parents.
    Secondly most of the evidence from the same-sex side is based on evidence from the parents concerned.
    Thirdly the numbers researched are not big enough from which to generalise stasistically.
    Fourthly, the samples from the same sex side are convenience samples; as often as not the “parents” volunteered to be sampled. These had a tendency to be middle class. On the other hand parents from the opposite sex side were selected randomly from all socioeconomic groups. This makes valid comparisons impossible.
    As I said in 9 above Regnerus is critical of his own research. But his research has the advantage of being based on random sample from both sides and it is based on the evidence of children. Regnerus’s study identified 248 adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships. Offered a chance to provide frank responses with the hindsight of adulthood, they gave reports unfavorable to the gay marriage equality agenda.
    Given the strentgth of the gay lobby in the western world, when researchers come up with unfavourable data to the same sex parenting agenda they face reprisals in the form of academic boycott. In terms of research methodology, Regnerus is more advanced than the studies on which Professor Sheila Greene relies, and should command greater respect. But as Lopez advises, Social science is not in a position to explore the critical aspects child mothering and fathering.
    It is never sufficient in a child’s interest to make him/her rely on personal resilience in order to make do with needless deprivation of a maternal or parental presence in their formative years. Norman wisdom had a horrific childhood and “turned out all right”, which is Professor Sheila Greene’s criterion for child welfare. However as Norman Wisdom has himself testified, he would have wished for much different childhood experience.

  38. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Well, Nuala, Fr Pat Rogers must be uttering sighs of relief that his take on Christianity has been judged merely safe and allergic to the unknown. If he had really expended thought, time and patience of response to the issue of the moment, his words might have seemed “wily, deceiving (or even) sanctimonious”.
    Nuala, please give these guys at least the benefit of your doubt or your current passion: they have been practising “duc in altum” and “novate vobis novale” since long before we hitched our hobbyhorses to the passing bandwagon.

  39. Joe O'Leary says:

    Regnerus studied 248 adult children whose parents had samesex romantic relationships, says Prodigal Son. Not then children of samesex married couples.
    “But since Regnerus never actually studied “children of same-sex parents,” as he claims, his conclusions are equivalent to calling a 747 the fastest plane without ever testing the Concorde. Kids raised in “planned” same-sex households—as opposed to kids from divorced families where one parent later came out—are still statistically rare, and out of his much-ballyhooed sample size of 3,000, Regnerus was unable to find a valid sample of kids who were actually reared by same-sex parents. Instead, all but two—yes, two—came from households originally led by a different-sex couple, usually the kids’ biological parents, that had suffered a family break-up, the one variable that’s most clearly known to raise risks for children. Since the kids in his data set who come from households with what he calls a “gay” or “lesbian” parent nearly all come from broken homes, his conclusions merely restated what everyone already knew: that instability raises risks for kids. But since Regnerus refers to these subjects as “children of same-sex parents,” which he didn’t actually examine, his study is nothing short of dishonest.”

  40. Soline Humbert says:

    In the context of this discussion,some may be interested in seeing in Dublin a FILM about the life of former Jesuit Fr JOHN McNEILL,a truly prophetic figure: John McNeill was an American Jesuit Priest from 1959 to 1987 when he was forced to leave when he came out as an openly gay priest. His book “the Church and the homosexual” was a pioneering theological book on the subject.
    One year after the publication of The Church and the Homosexual, McNeill received an order from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger in the Vatican, ordering him to silence in the public media. He observed the silence for nine years while continuing a private ministry to gays and lesbians which included psychotherapy, workshops, lectures and retreats. In 1988, he received a further order from Cardinal Ratzinger directing him to give up all ministry to gay persons which he refused to do in conscience. As a result, he was expelled by the Vatican from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for challenging the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of homosexuality, and for refusing to give up his ministry and psychotherapy practice to gay men and lesbians. McNeill had been a Jesuit for nearly 40 years. John McNeill has been devoting his life to spreading the good news of God’s love for lesbian and gay Christians.
    (55 minutes) with an introduction by the film’s Director, Irishman Brendan Fay. Followed by Q & A and discussion after the film.
    Date: Monday, 11th of May 2015
    Venue: Arrupe Room, Jesuit Conference Centre, Milltown Park, Sandford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
    Time: 7.30pm (sharp) to 9.30pm
    To attend:

  41. Joe O'Leary says:

    Gayness was decriminalized in Ireland 26 years later than in Britain — a cruel and unnecessary prolongation that made hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens criminals in the eyes of the law (as well as having other insidious bad effects in the areas of marriage and sexual offenses against minors).
    Now people are saying let’s wait on marriage equality as well — 15 years after Holland, 12 after Belgium 10 after Spain — none of whom report ANY problem caused by the legislation, au contraire.

  42. Prodigal Son says:

    Regnerus is critical of his own research. It’s the best of its type to date. Pro gay marriage social scientists who authored much less professional studies do not admit such weaknesses which in their case were more profound.
    Two other modern studies with more acceptable sample sizes and random selection agree with Regnerus.
    Social science as a whole is still unable to inform us about the effects of gay parenting. However unlimited the research, a man can never be a mother and a woman can never be a father. Professor Sheila Greene’s assertion does not stand up.
    While social science has contributed a lot to society, it has a history of academic fashion and bias. For instance when Howard Kinsey’s study on male sexuality and Margaret Mead’s study on the sexual attitudes of female teens in the South Seas were first discredited by two researchers in the US, the academic world boycotted the discreditors. The same boycott applies to Regnerus and other researchers who find outcomes similar to his.
    It’s better to forsake Secondary School debating techniques and stick to facts.
    Under the new form of Article 41, those in same sex marriages have a legal entitlement to Government-provided services of surrogacy and donor assisted procreation. It is not possible to have same sex marriage without these rights, under the Irish Constitution. Campaigning to change that will be an act of negative discrimination against people of same sex attraction and futile.
    Article 42 may have to be changed as well.

  43. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    In the nine days since the article appeared on the website, it is continuing to stimulate reflection; or perhaps, reaction. The article has 2492 words. Comments have 12,157 words (excluding names and dates at the start of each comment). Joe O’Leary, with 19 comments and 3413 words, is the most prolific(!), exceeding the total in the article.
    Some questions to ponder:
    1. Has it encouraged reflection, or is reaction the predominant feature?
    2. So far, has there been any meeting of minds, or has it been more a competition to achieve victory over those with a different point of view?
    3. Has anybody learned anything from the debate here?
    4. Has it been of any assistance in coming to a decision on the Marriage Referendum? Has it served to provide a vehicle for the contributors to come to a better appreciation of both sides?
    5. Could debate like this ever lead to a person coming to a different point of view?
    6. Has it helped to bring out an understanding of Marriage in its private dimension, and in its function in public life which is the reason Civil authority would see fit to regulate this kind of personal relationship?
    A possible related area of discussion:
    Ireland has the second highest birth rate in Europe, and yet Ireland’s birth rate since about 1991 has been below replacement level. Some other European countries have a birth rate far lower than ours. It seems that life as experienced in Europe at this time is certainly not family-friendly. The effects of this are not seen immediately, but after several generations. China, with its one-child policy, is facing a crisis of the low number of working people in proportion to the overall population to support.
    Is this something we should be concerned about?
    If so, what can be done?

  44. Joe @ 46 How do you know for certain that the there has been no problems caused by the legislation in Holland ,Belgium, and Spain,it takes time for the long term consequences to emerge. How does anybody really know , it will be interesting to hear how future generations will view decisions that are been made now. We are only hearing in recent years how unmarried mothers, sexually abused children , symphysiotomy victims, were treated thirty, forty and fifty years ago.There is an element of a “Spiral of Silence” about this referendum where some people are afraid to voice their views for fear of been shouted down. I have read and listened extensively to everyone’s views for and against and I feel that whatever way I vote it will be my sincerely held view.

  45. Con Devree says:

    Nuala O’Driscoll – 40 above.
    The circumcision analogy is not that useful. True it caused hassle at the time but it does not equate with depriving a child of access to or knowledge of its natural parents for the first 18 years of its life.
    As regards same sex attraction, it is true to infer that Catholicism is faced with the task of finding new ways to paddle unchartered waters. But it doesn’t entail changing Church teaching. Given that the Courage ministry is spreading, perhaps it is showing the way.
    You may well consider me, a no voter, as someone afraid of change. But my decision is partly based on observing how a considerable amount of family law changes and developments over the last few decades have ignored or minimized children’s interests, thus paving the way for the arguments same-sex marriage proponents advance today. For example, as against the idea that marriage and child well-being go together, state laws approving no-fault divorce and cultural habits normalizing cohabitation do not take children’s presence in a household into consideration at all. Rather, they allow more and more children to be reared outside of households containing their married, biological parents. They also expose more children to instability in living arrangements, (note 44 above) and to stepparents and new boyfriends, each of which is, on average, correlated with increased risks to children’s safety and to their emotional and educational achievement.
    For me, all of this does not amount to what you term “radical love.”

  46. Cornelius Martin says:

    “Now people are saying let’s wait on marriage equality as well — 15 years after Holland, 12 after Belgium 10 after Spain — none of whom report ANY problem caused by the legislation, au contraire.”
    A bit unrealistic in the context of an ancient and complex social institution like marriage. Experts on marriage have frequently and correctly noted that such major social changes operate with a “cultural lag” that often requires several years — sometimes a generation or two — to be fully realized.

  47. Joe O'Leary says:

    I haven’t noticed a “spiral of silence” affecting No voters — but it is no doubt true enough that most people have kept mum in regard to both sides. That means that each side must count on the support of a silent majority. Wonder what the bookies say.
    Pádraig, the debate here has not really been principally about your Furrow piece. None of my posts reacted to it. I read it when published and found it rather unconvincing but have not made any comment specifically on it. So for me it did not really “encourage reflection” but neither was “reaction the dominant feature”. It was just that the alleged new inequalities etc. that you saw the legislation as producing did not seem very substantial issues to me. I think you are wrong to characterize my criticism of Regnerus, Stephanowicz et al. as “a competition to achieve victory over those with a different point of view”. This is very dismissive remark and underestimates the sincerity of my and many others’ concern at the damage these ideologists along with various exgay groups and the Courage movement are doing to vulnerable young people. “Has anybody learned anything from the debate here?” Well I have, but people like the hurler on the ditch, Tony, have not. “Has it been of any assistance in coming to a decision on the Marriage Referendum?” Not this combox only but the others as well have been greeted as helpful. This is actuallly on of the few forums where there is a respectful to-and-fro among contributors, not all of whom are fully decided in their views. “Has it served to provide a vehicle for the contributors to come to a better appreciation of both sides?” “Both sides” is a bit polarizing — you yourself promised to surpass the polarization you see in the way the Referendum is formulated. “Could debate like this ever lead to a person coming to a different point of view?” The remarkable change in views in Ireland must come from some sort of debate, and the debate here is no worse than anywhere else. We never sink to the level of homophobia or personal insult that sees into debates on Irish Times comboxes for instance.
    “Has it helped to bring out an understanding of Marriage in its private dimension, and in its function in public life which is the reason Civil authority would see fit to regulate this kind of personal relationship?” I have spoken a lot about the private dimension — for instance of the tragedies ensuing on lgbt people being morally forced into marriage with someone of the opposite sex — the State does not regard such situations as beneath its public attention, since they concern the rights and freedoms of individuals and their equality before the law that the State is bound to protect. To be sure the US Constitution has a stress on “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that is probably stronger than what our Constitution says (a topic for debate?). The Supreme Court ruling next week might have an influence on our debates.

  48. Joe O'Leary says:

    Anne asks, “How do you know for certain that the there has been no problems caused by the legislation in Holland ,Belgium, and Spain,it takes time for the long term consequences to emerge. How does anybody really know , it will be interesting to hear how future generations will view decisions that are been made now.”
    Well of course I do not know for certain, All I said is that no such problems have been reported — and of course I could have missed the reports. We saw above that reports of bad consequences in Canada were actually about widely decried censorious political correctness that began before the gay marriage legislation and has been curbed since the gay marriage legislation and that has been denounced by supporters of gay marriage such as Chomsky. This, it seems to me, was a very weak attempt to find bad consequences.
    Perhaps someone here can dig up reports of bad consequences in Europe. My impression is that the legislation has been well received in Europe and that the conservative groups that opposed it are failing to substantiate their dire predictions.

  49. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    52: Joe:
    The article was intended to provide stimulus for debate; it was not intended to restrict debate to what I had written.
    I did not in fact characterize [your] criticism of Regnerus, Stephanowicz et al. as “a competition to achieve victory over those with a different point of view”. I asked whether such competition is found on the debate here. It is not a dismissive remark; it is a question. Why would you have taken that as referring specifically to you?
    It’s encouraging to see your remark that “This is actually one of the few forums where there is a respectful to-and-fro among contributors.”
    “Both sides” is a bit polarizing: But the fact is that there are “both sides”, and indeed quite polarised. I do hope that learning will surpass the polarisation.

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