Canadian lesbians lose case to have marriage recognised in Ireland

A lesbian couple, who were married in Canada in 2003, have lost their attempt in the High Court to have their marriage recognised in Ireland.

Dr Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan argued that the failure to recognise their marriage breached their rights under the Irish Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Charter of fundamental freedom.
This argument was rejected by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, who said she could not agree with their argument that marriage under the Irish Constitution (pdf file) includes same-sex marriage.

The judgment is 139 pages long and can be downloaded from the couple’s website for those who are interested in the legal arguments but I’ve decided to keep it “short” and just summarise the conclusion of Justice Dunne, concentrating on the main issues.

Equality before the taxman:
In her evidence Dr. Zappone conceded that she and Dr. Gilligan are not treated any differently in relation to taxation provisions from heterosexual couples that were not married. She also agreed that in 1937 when the institution of marriage was given constitutional protection the consensus as to what marriage involved was a marriage between people of the opposite sex. She believed that that view has now changed to the extent that there is now an acceptance of the normality of the sexual identity of people who are homosexual …

In any event, it is accepted that there is no discrimination between homosexual co-habiting couples and heterosexual co-habiting couples so far as the tax regime is concerned

Gay couples as parents:
The phenomenon of parenting by same sex couples is one of relatively recent history. The studies that have taken place are consequently of recent origin. Most of the studies have been cross sectional studies involving small samples and frequently quite young children. I have to say that based on all of the evidence I heard on this topic that I am not convinced that such firm conclusions can be drawn as to the welfare of children at this point in time. It seems to me that further studies will be necessary before a firm conclusion can be reached. It also seems to me having regard to the criticism of the methodology used in the majority of the studies conducted to date that until such time as there are more longitudinal studies involving much larger samples that it will be difficult to reach firm conclusions on this topic.

It is worth noting having said that, however, that none of the studies carried out to date have demonstrated any adverse impact on the children involved in the particular studies. Some differences have been noted. Some differences in the quality of parenting have been noted (I might add not adverse differences) and there was in one study some indication that there may be a slight effect on gender orientation. However, the sample in the particular study was so small that again one would be wary of placing any reliance or drawing firm conclusions from that particular study. I think however it is important to note that there was no evidence of any kind tendered to the court to demonstrate that children brought up by a same sex couple or a single homosexual parent are adversely affected by the family structure in which they are raised

There is simply not enough evidence from the research done to date that could allow firm conclusions to be drawn as to the consequences of same sex marriage particularly in the area of the welfare of children.

Same-sex marriage covered by the Constitution?
Does the right to marry inherent in the Constitution encompass the right to same sex marriage? If not, is the Constitutional right incompatible with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights?

It has been accepted in this case on behalf of the plaintiffs that one of the common law grounds of exclusion based on lack of capacity is that the two people seeking to marry are of the same sex. There is also now a legislative prohibition introduced by the Civil Registration Act of 2004. It was also accepted that insofar as the institution of marriage is described within the Constitution that what was always understood by the framers of the Constitution was the traditional understanding of marriage …

However the plaintiffs rely very much on the U.S. and Canadian authorities to argue that the Constitution is a living instrument and that accordingly the right to marry should be considered to have changed so as to embrace the concept of same sex marriage by reason of the existence of a changing consensus. Particular emphasis was placed on the Canadian decision in the Halpern case as to the “living instrument” argument.

Counsel for the plaintiffs had referred to changes in our understanding of the nature of marriage and the fact that the institution of marriage as we now understand it has undergone changes over the years. In particular there have been changes in relation to capacity. As an example reference was made to the Loving case in the U.S. In that particular instance a justification for the criminal prohibition on inter-racial marriage was defended on the basis that the prohibition was part of God’s plan to keep the races apart. It did not succeed. The point was made that the boundaries of the constitutional right to marry, should not be determined by an appeal to a conventional dictionary definition …

In the Loving case Warren C.J. stated:-
“The freedom to marry has long been recognised as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’, fundamental to our very existence and survival. … To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable basis as the racial classifications embodied in the statute, classification so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the fourteenth amendment is surely to deprive all the State citizens of liberty without due process of law. The fourteenth amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

It was noted by Marshall J. in Goodridge commenting upon Loving as follows:-
“The courts opinion could have rested solely on the grounds that the statute discriminated on the base of race in violation of the equal protection clause. But the court went on to hold that the laws arbitrarily deprived the couple of a fundamental liberty protected by the due process clause, the freedom to marry … Although Loving arose in the context of racial discrimination, prior and subsequent decisions of this court concerning the right to marry is of fundamental importance to all individuals.”

The court in Goodridge then struck down the statute which contained the restriction on same sex marriage on the basis that it did not meet the rational basis test for due process or equal protection.

I have set out in some detail the analysis of the U.S. decisions conducted by Mr. O’Donnell on behalf of the defendants. It is clear that the judgment of the majority in the Goodridge case has not found wide favour . Indeed since that judgment a number of other States have come to a different conclusion, most recently, the court in the Californian case of Woo v. Lockyer. In that case one of the points clearly made was that the alleged discrimination was different to that which was found to exist in the Loving v. Virginia case. It was noted:-
“We are not dealing with a suspect classification such as race. Therefore, under the correct legal standard (rational basis review), we must uphold the opposite sex requirement for marriage if it is supported by any plausible reason. (see p. 57 judgment of McGuiness P.J.)”
These authorities are interesting in many respects. They are dealing with similar definitions of marriage and the assertion of a right to marry requiring a redefinition of the traditional understanding of marriage as is the case in these proceedings. However as I have already noted many of the decisions are based on equal protection clauses.

Many of the arguments in those cases put forward on behalf of the proponents of same sex marriage have been relied upon in the arguments in this case also. There is a limit to the assistance that can be drawn from them given the different constitutional framework applicable in this jurisdiction but the approach taken to the proposed re-definition of the freedom to marry is of interest.

Nonetheless, I have a difficulty in this case in accepting the arguments of the plaintiffs to the effect that the definition of marriage as understood in 1937 requires to be reconsidered in the light of now prevailing standards and conditions …

Marriage was understood under the 1937 Constitution to be confined to persons of the opposite sex. That has been reiterated in a number of the decisions …

I fully appreciate that changes have been made; indeed, some far reaching changes have been made to the institution of marriage as it was understood in 1937. Changes in relation to capacity in respect of the marriage age have been made and the most fundamental change of all has been the change in relation to the indissolubility of marriage.

I accept that the Constitution is a living instrument … but I also accept … that there is a difference between an examination of the Constitution in the context of ascertaining unenumerated rights and redefining a right which is implicit in the Constitution and which is clearly understood. In this case the court is being asked to redefine marriage to mean something which it has never done to date …
The right to marry contained in the Constitution is undoubtedly not an express right but is clearly implicit from the terms of Article 41. It is not a case where the court requires to ascertain a previously unenumerated right as the right to marry falls squarely within the terms of the Constitution. The definition of marriage to date has always been understood as being opposite sex marriage. How then can it be argued that in the light of prevailing ideas and concepts that definition be changed to encompass same sex marriage?

Having regard to the clear understanding of the meaning of marriage as set out in the numerous authorities opened to the Court from this jurisdiction and elsewhere, I do not see how marriage can be redefined by the Court to encompass same sex marriage. The Plaintiffs referred frequently in the course of this case to the “changing consensus” but I have to say the there is little evidence of that. The consensus around the world does not support a widespread move towards same sex marriage.

There has been some limited support for the concept of same sex marriage as in Canada, Massachusetts and South Africa together with the three European countries previously referred to but, in truth, it is difficult to see that as a consensus, changing or otherwise.

In this jurisdiction, as recently as 2004, s. 2(2)(e) of the Civil Registration Act was enacted. That Act sets out what was previously the common law exclusion of same sex couples from the institution of marriage. Is that not of itself an indication of the prevailing idea and concept in relation to what marriage is and how it should be defined? I think it is …

The final point I wish to make in relation to the definition of marriage as understood within the Constitution is that I think one has to bear in mind all of the provisions of Article 41 and Article 42 in considering the definition of marriage. Read together, I find it very difficult to see how the definition of marriage could, having regard to the ordinary and natural meaning of the words used, relate to a same sex couple

The final point I would make on this topic is that if there is in fact any form of discriminatory distinction between same sex couples and opposite sex couples by reason of the exclusion of same sex couples from the right to marry, then Article 41 in its clear terms as to guarding provides the necessary justification. The other ground of justification must surely lie in the issue as to the welfare of children. Much of the evidence in this case dealt with this issue. Until such time as the state of knowledge as to the welfare of children is more advanced, it seems to me that the State is entitled to adopt a cautious approach to changing the capacity to marry albeit that there is no evidence of any adverse impact on welfare.

European Convention of Human Rights:
Counsel for the plaintiff had submitted that in the European Convention on Human Rights there was no definition of marriage provided …

I find the decision of Potter J. in respect of the arguments put before him on Article 12 to be compelling. I can see no reason for reaching any conclusion different from that which he reached in the Wilkinson and Kitzenger case. It seems to me to set out clearly the position in relation to the right of marriage as identified by the European Court of Human Rights in Goodwin.

Potter J. then went on to consider the role of Article 8 and Article 14 in combination with Article 12. He noted the role of Article 8 which concerns non-interference of the state with a person’s private life, family and home. He commented in para. 87:
“However, any necessity to protect the private or family life of childless same sex couples does not extend to recognising them as married. The obligation to respect private or family life is not apt to bring within the ambit of Article 8 all government policy choices touching upon their status.”

He did go on, however, to note that English law recognised the right of same sex couples to live in a close, loving and monogamous relationship and afforded them the benefits of marriage in all but name by virtue of the Civil Partnership Act, 2004. It was argued in this case that as there is no equivalent to the Civil Partnership act in this jurisdiction could Article 8 mean that in the absence of something akin to that Act that there is a breach of Article 8. Potter J. had himself noted at para. 86 of his judgment as follows:-

The ECHR will not require Member States to establish particular forms of social and legal institution to recognise particular relationships especially in areas of social controversy. As made clear in Johnston v. Ireland (supra), Article 8 does not impose a positive obligation to establish for unmarried couples a status analogous to that of married couples and, in particular, couples who, like the applicant in that case, wished to marry but were legally incapable of marrying.”

Civil Partnership
Early on, in the course of evidence in this case Dr. Zappone noted that the plaintiffs were not seeking the introduction of civil partnership rights. She made it plain that the right sought by the plaintiffs was the right to marry. As I have explained above I do not think that it is a right which exists for same sex couples either under the Irish Constitution or under the European Convention.

It is noteworthy that at the moment, (and some reference has been made to this in the course of submissions) the topic of the rights and duties of co-habitees is very much in the news. Undoubtedly people in the position of the plaintiffs, be they same sex couples or heterosexual couples, can suffer great difficulty or hardship in the event of the death or serious illness of their partners. Dr. Zappone herself spoke eloquently on this difficulty in the course of her evidence. It is to be hoped that the legislative changes to ameliorate these difficulties will not be long in coming. Ultimately, it is for the legislature to determine the extent to which such changes should be made.

Having reached these conclusions, it is clear that the Plaintiffs’ claim for recognition of their Canadian marriage must fail as must the challenge to the relevant provisions of the Tax Code.

  • Doctor Who

    Very interesting.

    We hear alot about the rights of people in the North to be Irish citizens. How the GFA recognised this.

    With gay marraige (civil partnerships) legal in the North, does it mean that gay folk will or even do feel like second class citizens in a “new Ireland” .

    Would this discrimiation prevent gay Nationalists from seeking their political objectives.

    It seems absurd that in a country which cried out for emancipation it should now deny emancipation to a section of it´s people.

  • George

    Doctor Who,
    Gay “marriage” is not legal in Northern Ireland, same-sex civil partnerships are.

    Civil partnerships are not an “official” marriage in the UK, they are, for all intents and purposes, legal contracts.

    Ireland is bringing in civil partnership legislation as well so similar gay rights will exist throughout the island of Ireland in this specific area. That is not the issue here.

    The question being asked was whether a same-sex marriage in Canada could be recognised as a “marriage” as defined under the Irish Constitution.

    On a wider front, the question raised is not whether gay couples should be afforded the same rights as married couples but whether they actually have the right to marry.

  • T.Ruth

    These people are not married. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman.These people are perverse, immoral and living in sin just as surely as a heterosexual couple who engaged in sexual relations before marriage would be living in sin.It is my belief that their behaviour is unnatural and evil in the eyes of God.What upsets me is that any Christian person should be required to acknowledge homosexual practice as if it were not immorality of the most perverse sort.Why is it that these people who know how offensive their behaviour is to Christians want to ram what they regard as their rights down our throat?.Society does not accept other forms of immorality as acceptable.Murder is not legally acceptable. Why should these perverse peoples’ rights have priority over the rights of normal people of a Christian conviction ?.
    T.Ruth

  • nmc

    All “these people” want is to be left alone. I’ve never had a homosexual ram their rights (???) down my throat. However I have been forced to deal with a large number of christians who ram their opinions down my throat.

    It’s incredibly odd that people (such as yourself) worry so much about what goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults. Unless of course you have an itch you can’t scratch yourself. o:

  • kensei

    “These people are not married. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman.These people are perverse, immoral and living in sin just as surely as a heterosexual couple who engaged in sexual relations before marriage would be living in sin.It is my belief that their behaviour is unnatural and evil in the eyes of God.What upsets me is that any Christian person should be required to acknowledge homosexual practice as if it were not immorality of the most perverse sort.Why is it that these people who know how offensive their behaviour is to Christians want to ram what they regard as their rights down our throat?.Society does not accept other forms of immorality as acceptable.Murder is not legally acceptable. Why should these perverse peoples’ rights have priority over the rights of normal people of a Christian conviction ?. ”

    Of course, Buddhists would probably have little problem with it. There may even be some wacky Christian churches that will do it.

    As practicising Catholic, I don’t agree with gay marriage. But this comes down to a rights issue. If other people are happy with it, then it is between them and God and they should be afforded the same rights as everyone else. The “Civil Partnerships” is just a nonsense designed to avoid debate. The Constitution is serious about affording religious liberty then it should enforce this.

  • joeCanuck

    T.Ruth
    Why should these perverse peoples’ rights have priority over the rights of normal people of a Christian conviction ?.
    I have only ever seen “these people” asking for equal rights, not priority rights.
    Go and mind your own business.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dr. Who: “With gay marraige (civil partnerships) legal in the North, does it mean that gay folk will or even do feel like second class citizens in a “new Ireland” . ”

    Actually, I do believe that there was a recent DUP motion on the matter…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6178871.stm

    To quote the pertinent text of the story…

    “On Monday, a Northern Ireland Assembly motion condemning government plans to introduce equality legislation for gays, lesbians and bisexuals fell after a tied vote.

    After a two-hour debate at Stormont, 39 assembly members voted in favour of a DUP motion and 39 against. ”

    So much for tolerant N.I.

  • Yokel

    Ah jesus would you go home ladies…

  • smcgiff

    Just as well, if this were past the dykes would have burst!

  • Doctor Who

    Dread

    “So much for tolerant N.I.”

    Can´t remember saying that oh holy god of the seas.

    Doesn´t surprise me the DUP would take that slant. Just as a few have had that litle itch about it as well.

    It is clear that this will be a constituitional issue in the Irish Republic, the church will demand it goes to a referendum as I fancy they think they could win this one.

    As far as gay marraige is concerned, there should be no denying people this right in any civilised society.

    Wether you think same sex relationships are wrong is irrelevant.

    If a particualr Church says no we don´t recognise this union…that is when the state should step in.

    Good luck to this couple.

  • Mmmmn, Canadian lesbians, mapley.

  • George

    Kensei,
    the argument given be the defendant Attorney General as to why they didn’t think the couple’s fundamental rights were violated is as follows (p. 78):

    “The plaintiffs are not treated in law any differently than any other non married couples. They are treated the same as cohabiting heterosexual couples in accordance with the manner in which the Tax Code has been formulated.”

    On the fundamental rights issue:
    The AG said the couple accepted that there were Constitutional provisions to protect the institution of marriage so, as a result, the State is obliged to “guard with special care” legislative measures that distinguished between marriage as an institution and all other relationships.

    They “treat each class fairly in the sense that all married couples (as distinct from all other persons) are eligible to receive the benefits in question.”

    On personal rights under Article 40:

    “It is well established in Irish constitutional jurisprudence that the social function of married couples is such as to entitle the State in its enactments to treat married couples differently from other types of relationship for the purpose of Article 40.1 …

    A difference in treatment between married couples and other relationships (sexual or otherwise) is expressly contemplated by Article 41 of the Constitution and cannot, therefore, constitute a violation of other provisions of the Constitution.”

  • jaffa

    It would be simpler if the state would just butt out of marriage altogether. The state is an integrated service corporation we jointly employ. I don’t want my cleaner to judge the health of my marriage and I see no reason to involve the government either. Marriage is a spiritual event. You can get a church to celebrate it (Unitarians have done so for same sex couples for years by the way) some other institution you respect (humanist society perhaps) or just decide you’re married by telling each other before God, Islam style.

    Tax law should have no provisions regarding marriage either way.

  • Followernot

    I’m posting this anonymously so as to prevent my mail box being filled with hate mail.

    Gospel according to John:
    “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”

    That wouldn’t be homosexual love, would it?

  • William

    The decision deals primarily with interpretation of legal issues, rather than the subjective view of the judge. George has explained it all very well above so enough said.

    Personally, I think same-sex marriages are wrong. Therefore, I have no plans of entering into one. Neither will I be having an abortion, buying violent pornography, eating meat or supporting Chelsea.

    Tolerance, lads lasses, tolerance.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dr. Who: “It is clear that this will be a constituitional issue in the Irish Republic, the church will demand it goes to a referendum as I fancy they think they could win this one. ”

    Which would move it from the realm of religion to politics (is that a step up or down, btw?) and democracy. You have a problem with democracy, Doc?

    Dr. Who: “As far as gay marraige is concerned, there should be no denying people this right in any civilised society. ”

    I would argue there should be no denying people equal protection under the law, which is not precisely the same thing. Words mean things and “marriage” has had a rather specific meaning over the centuries, both in the common vernacular and in legal circles. Frankly, I would rather go the other direction, get the state out of the marriage business entirely — they only got *into* the business because there was income to be had — and come up with a rational, non-discriminatory regieme for issues ancillary to marriage (insurance, inheritance, etc.), rather than arbitrarily and capriciously meddle in that ugly intersection between religion and poitics.

    Dr Who: “If a particualr Church says no we don´t recognise this union…that is when the state should step in. ”

    No, they shouldn’t and here’s why — that set’s up a showdown between what most would consider to be an inalienable freedom of religion and the civil rights of a minority, a clash that should not be touched with an eleven foot Yugoslavian, let alone a ten foot pole. If you want the Church to stay out of the state’s business, then keeping the state out of the Church is not a bad way to start.

    Followernot: ““Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”

    That wouldn’t be homosexual love, would it? ”

    Depends on the Greek or Aramic would used…

    Unlike English, those languages have several different words that end up being translated into English as “love.”

  • Doctor Who

    William

    “buying violent pornography, eating meat or supporting Chelsea.”

    Surely buying or indeed participating in violent pornography is much milder to being a Chelsea supporter.

  • Doctor Who

    Dread

    “If you want the Church to stay out of the state’s business, then keeping the state out of the Church is not a bad way to start. ”

    This is assuming that marraige is the property of the churches and varying religions.

    I come from a Jewish/CofIre/RC (bit of a mixed bang) background and pratice no religion, in fact I would say I am very much in the Athiest corner. My wife comes from a Basque RC background, but is non practicing…We both agreed that we wanted our union to be recognised. We had a civil ceremony where we were able to add our own spiritual side to the proceedings.

    This was of course provided by the state. The govt. of Spain. Such a ceremony is commonplace now (in Sapin) as thousands turn away from the Church. The church in Spain has caused unfathomable suffering upon it´s peoples but while people leave it in their droves, many still see the value in marraige.

    Now being against gay marraige on the grounds of religion becomes redundant if there is an alternative. There is and many Heterosexuel couples use it daily.

  • bertie

    T. Ruth

    I respect your right to hold your views on homosexuality but as regards the associated activity,it shouldn’t really concern you unless you are under pressure to join in, and, particularly with regard to these ladies, that is not very likely.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dr. Who: “This is assuming that marraige is the property of the churches and varying religions. ”

    As I stated, the state came late to the marriage business and only because there was money to be made “licensing” it.

    Dr Who: “If a particualr Church says no we don´t recognise this union…that is when the state should step in. ”

    There is absolutely no rational basis to do as you suggest and force religions to accept the state’s decree on gay marriage. The resulting uproar, outside the Anglican / Episcopal church, which pretty much handed the keys over to left wing secularists, will far outweigh whatever good you thought you were going to accomplish. Even the Romans realized what the British didn’t and that screwing with the local religions was a bad idea.

  • Doctor Who

    Dread

    “You have a problem with democracy, Doc? ”

    Why would I, I don´t however feel that the ballot box is the tool of the church, to use to keep the people down.

    Democracy?? oh yeah that´s that thing that George W Bush and smiler Blair are fighting in Iraq for.

    Actually Dread yeah I do have a problem with Democracy don´t you.

    It shouldn´t be used in order to keep those it doesn´t benefit suppressed. I´m sure you and Kensei can agree with that.

  • Doctor Who

    Dread

    “There is absolutely no rational basis to do as you suggest and force religions to accept the state’s decree on gay marriage”

    I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.

    The church or any church should not be forced to recognise same sex marraige or indeed carry out such a ceremony. As there is no need.

    They should simply practice what they preach and turn the other cheek.

  • joeCanuck

    We have had same sex marriage in Canada for the past year and a half.

    The churches are exempt (under the law) from having to perform the ceremony although some do.

  • Kloot

    Im not entirely sure what my views are on this. If we were to be forced to recognise their marriage, would we also have to recognise marriages in which the man can have multiple wives, as can happen in some countries ?

    If 3 people get together and decide that they want to live their lives together as a loving group, in a loving relationship, do they also deserve the right to marry ? I mean, if its about rights, then that would be a logical next step, would it not..

    As I say, Im not quite sure where I stand on the issue. The couple obviously love each other and want the rights they feel they are due, I just wonder where it all leads to next

  • Doctor Who

    Kloot

    “If 3 people get together and decide that they want to live their lives together as a loving group, in a loving relationship, do they also deserve the right to marry ? I mean, if its about rights, then that would be a logical next step, would it not.. ”

    I fail to see your logic, as we are still talking about the union of two people, the only difference being they are of the same sex.

  • bertie

    Kloot that is a good point.

    I don’t think that we ahould be expected to recognise marriages that would not be legal here. What about marriage of girls of, say 13?

  • Kloot

    But Doc, if there is no restriction placed on the sex of those in the union, then why place a restriction on the number…

    Now im not saying that there is a queue of people in polyigmous relationships looking for recognition, im just saying that if its about equal rights, then if people in such a relationship did ask for marriage rights, then would it be wrong to deny them it

  • joeCanuck

    Kloot
    Where it leads to is where the general public wants it to lead to.
    Mores (by definition) keep changing. Contrary to what some people would like to impose on us, there are no absolutes. All laws are there to protect the rights of society from the rights of individuals to act any way they want to.
    It took 25 years for the Gay rights community to convince the general public in Canada that giving them equal rights, including the right to marry, in no way imposed a threat to the general public wellbeing.

  • Kloot

    Joe, thats fair enough.

    I think your right. Societies as you say change. Social norms now, were social evils in our parents time. Im merely making the point that the logic flows through, and if people accept that, then fine.

    Would you see a line ever being drawn, in this area, as to equal rights. Or is the cause of equal rights open ended

  • joeCanuck

    Kloot,
    I don’t know about over there but, in this case,in Canada, the end of the road has been reached. Those of the gay persuasion have totally equal rights as the rest of us.

  • Kloot

    Or is the cause of equal rights open ended

    Sorry, should have read open ended equal rights

  • Kloot

    Those of the gay persuasion have totally equal rights as the rest of us.

    And rightly so. Im not arguing against gay people and their rights.

    Im extending the logic that marriage is about equal rights, to cater for other possible scenarios where people might claim equal rights on the issue… teasing it out if you will. Theres not much chance of it ever being tested, but no harm in looking at it.

  • joeCanuck

    I’ve never heard anyone here clamouring for the right to polygamy, for example, Kloot.
    And if they did, I don’t think it would fly.

  • joeCanuck

    But, for the sake of argument, if a disease came out of the blue that struck down only young men, and 50% of young men died, would society’s view of polygamy change. Probably, I think.

  • Kloot

    I’ve never heard anyone here clamouring for the right to polygamy

    And I acknowledge that. I suppose im looking to the future to when someone could make such a claim. Its not beyond the bounds of possibility but highly unlikely. But again, I think, as you have hinted at, society would object to it. Society puts limits on the extent of human ‘Equal Rights’. Its not just enough that a person wants, therefore a person gets.

  • aquifer

    Seems that Belfast City Council have de-recognised Civil Partnerships. Click on them in their website and you get Page Not Found. (next to vistors to belfast)

    Belfast City Council

    The sight of men holding hands is clearly too much for the silly burghers.

  • Rory

    It is a misuse of language to refer to a relationship between people of the same sex, however emotionally or physically intense, as marriage which, in human terms, implies a physical coupling for the purpose of procreation. A couple are not married either by church or state, a couple marry each to the other of their choice and it is this union which is either sanctified by the church or recognised and registered by the state.

    There can be no compulsion on any religion to bless as marriage any union which it does not recognise as true nor for the state to register or recognise as marriage that which is not marriage as has been commonly and historically understood.

    Homosexual couples may desire a recognition of their partnerships but to ask for that relationship to be treated as equal to a social union intended for the propagation and nourishment of future generations seems foolish, anti-social and incredibly lacking in any insight as to very circumstances of their own existence. Whatever of deluded romantic wishful thinking in the homosexual community, much of it pandered to by exploitative commercial rogues ( and lawyers and politicians but of course) there simply are no gay parents nor is it likely that there will be.

    That people are able to live and be tolerated in quiet private expression of their sexual joy with a partner of like mind is a right that best be accorded to all, but, please, let us all stop being silly for fashion’s sake.

  • joeCanuck

    So Rory,
    If a woman or man is biologically sterile, and cannot procreate, he/she is not entitled to be married?

  • The Pedant

    Rory:

    Evidently my Chambers Dictionary is guilty of “misuse of language”, for it defines marriage as “the ceremony, act or contract by which a man and woman become husband and wife; a similar ceremony, etc, between homosexuals…”

    You may be interested to learn that the word has its origins in the Latin maritare, derived from maritus, a husband, which in turn is derived from maris, a male. I shall leave it up to you to puzzle out how “man” somehow mutated into “marriage” in the mind of the ancient Roman.

    For your information, my wife and I married in the understanding that we would remain childless; we are both quite capable of becoming parents yet choose not to. In your opinion, are we truly married?

  • ciaran damery

    Live and let live. The days of Paisley’s “Save Ulster from sodomy’ campaign are expressions of a Bin Laden like Mullah. A madcap religious fundamentalist.

  • Penelope

    wonderful to see the same ol’, same ol’ slippery slope arguments being trotted out here for the arguments against gay marriage…

    … marriage is for the procreation of children (so that leaves out the infertile, the voluntarily childless and the widowed pensioner who might want to remarry)

    … marriage is to protect the children and gays aren’t parents (now that’s got to be the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard… being physicaly capaple and with sexuality being not so ridgidly black and white as many would like to believe there are many gay parents out there, maybe in the closet with antiquated ideas like that floating about, but there!!)

    … marriage is a sacred covenant of the Church (so does that mean the civil marriages done at the City Hall and between those who are not Christian are somehow less valid?)

    … if we let gays marry then what’s to stop marrage between multiple parties or to young children (surprised no one mentioned sheep!!)

    … that homosexuality is deviant and perverse etc and on the same moral par as murder (yet hetrosexual murderers can marry…in prison even!)… yadda, yadda, yadda

    What T.Ruth & Rory seem to miss is that just like heterosexuals, there are good and bad people within the queer community. Bottom line is the vast majority of lesbians and gays are just like anyone else, trying to earn a living, lead a decent life and find a little love. It’s upon finding that love that they wish for the same legal rights that recognise and protect their union. That’s all.

  • bertie

    Penelope

    wind your neck in.

    It was me who mentioned children and it was not an arguement against gay marriage, it was an argument against recognising ANY marriage that is not legal here.

    And yes if some country did decide to allow marriage between people and sheep, we should not have to recognise that.

  • ciaran damery

    Some of you might be amused by the fact that the son of arch-revisionist John A. Murphy is now his daughter. Sean is now Susan. Susan tried to infiltrate the Dublin lesbian scene and claimed to be a gay transexual. Needless to say, he/she was promptly discarded by lesbians.

  • abucs

    Can’t find any real reason to be against same sex marriage. A celebration and commitment to love i think should be encouraged.

    It seems to me the choice is one of biology and love and not subversiveness or sin or anything else. Also a recognition of rights cleans up the difficult property rights after ‘divorce’ or death.

    Kloot makes some interesting points about where the line might be extended. Perhaps communities and identities define themselves on where they draw the lines on how to live. The simple solution of tearing down all lines and not putting any up, may end up serving to weaken communities and is not always a positive step.

    Difficult one, but in respect to gay union / marriage it makes sense to acknowledge they are very much part of the community, and would be a positive step IMHO.