James D. is well known to many people on Twitter as @jdtips . Apart from reading odds and giving many betting tips he is also an advocate of a No vote in the upcoming referendum on same sex marriage. Having heard the case for the ‘Yes’ vote he now lays out his case for people to hear.
I believe that a vast majority of people who support same-sex marriage are well intentioned and people of good will. They are upstanding compassionate people who believe they are doing the right thing in the name of ‘equality’ for fellow citizens.
They are eager to show solidarity and perhaps eager to show the world they are ‘enlightened’ and ‘modern’. A day won’t go by without some celebrity, politician or organisation coming out in favour of same- sex marriage. It’s almost like a badge of honour or a sign of your worthiness as an individual.
It must be remembered that if something is viewed as modern , it does not mean it is automatically right. You must also remember that a vast majority of apparent supporters of same- sex marriage believed that marriage is between a man and a woman for much of their entire lives. A prime example is US President, Barack Obama who only came out in support of it in 2012.
We all believe in marriage equality, including me . But we differ on what constitutes a marriage in the first place. Very little of this debate has been about what marriage is actually about, its relevance to society and why does the state even take an interest in it.
Like you, I want my fellow citizens regardless of gender and sexual orientation to be as happy as possible in relationships and in life. Like you, I despise any form of bullying or prejudice directed at anyone because of their beliefs, race or sexuality.
Respecting any sort of difference starts with recognising it exists in the first place and embracing it fully. Respecting diversity is not built on pretending everything is the same. It is difference not sameness which makes the world a brighter, interesting and a more bearable place.
This week Ireland is likely to become the first country in the history of the world to vote for same- sex marriage by way of referendum. Marriage and how we as a society define and view it is hugely important and any alteration should be considered with extreme care. Marriage has been the building block of society since the start of mankind.
It predates the state and church and in my view it is rooted in human nature. Practically every society in history has defined marriage as between one man and one woman. We as a human race simply recognise that men and women are different and complement each other.
We also recognise that only a man and a woman together in a sexual union can procreate and propagate the human species and marriage is a way of tying children to their biological mother and father. It is primarily about family formation and an environment for children, mothers and fathers to identify with one another and bond together.
Not every male and female couple can and will have children but this is the state’s primary interest in marriage. The family is a separate and independent entity to the state . It is self- made and self interested in terms of its own flourishing and renewal.
Any attempt by the state to redefine the family or be a coercive influence on it should be treated with great suspicion. In the Irish Constitution, the state recognises this and this is why it pledges to guard the institution of marriage on which the family is founded with ‘ special care’.
The central concern I have with the same-sex marriage proposal is that it gives the state unprecedented power to redefine the institution of marriage and move it away from its central purpose and meaning. By redefining it, it makes the family subservient to the state and shifts the balance of power in direction of the state.
Yes it is the Irish people who are deciding how to define marriage but the referendum has been imposed us on needlessly ,without consultation or substantial appetite and without any political opposition. If we redefine marriage, this has implications in terms of how people view marriage and ultimately behave in it.
The fact that same- sex marriage has been imposed either by government or judiciary in all of the other countries that it is currently legal in, only adds weight to my concern. The push for same- sex marriage around the world has been characterised by totalitarianism, fearful conformity, intimidation and a deep hostility towards in what we could describe as ‘ traditional’ family values.
We see it even within our own country with same- sex marriage activists and politicians alike even questioning the value of mothers and fathers in children’s lives and development. It is incredible to see normally intelligent and clear thinking people reduced to dismissing the role of motherhood and fatherhood and defining parenting as simply about a capacity to love.
It is a deeply anti family position and insults mothers and fathers up and down the country. In their heart of hearts they don’t believe a word of this but they are misleading the Irish people down a perilous path. Historically, the state oversees marriage and confers certain rights and protections to the institution as it recognises its huge benefit to society.
It does not and should not define it. Its interest in marriage is primarily concerned with children, their nurturing and development in a safe and stable environment. Contrary to what some- sex marriage activists claim, the state has no significant interest in the romance or love of its citizens.
Same-sex marriage also gives the state extraordinary power in family affairs especially in relation to the assignment of parenthood. Natural biological ties are undermined and set aside and parenthood is determined by ‘the child’s best interests’ which can mean whatever one wants it to mean.
This will all be played out in family law courts as lawyers and judges interpret this new amendment into our Constitution. The political class love same-sex marriage because as I have outlined, it gives the state power and it also enables them to paint themselves as liberal and compassionate.
In an era when most of the public have a dim view of politicians and find them untrustworthy and duplicitous, politicians have used same- sex marriage as a vehicle to change their own image. In doing so, they have forgotten what marriage is about, its central meaning and benefit and failed to consider all the implications of redefining marriage.
As proponents of change and redefining marriage the onus is on same- sex marriage activists to put forward a convincing and compelling case forward to support their aims.Lets look at some of the arguments.
Over 90 per cent of countries still define marriage as man and woman and Ireland will be very much in a minority if it decides to redefine marriage. It is often said from proponents of same- sex marriage that it is a ‘human right’. This is untrue. Same- sex marriage has never been a human right and the European Court of Human Rights has declined to call it any such thing.
In a judgement in March 2012, it found civil partnerships comparable to marriage. It also said ‘The European Convention of Human Rights does not require member states governments to grant same- sex couples access to marriage’. There is of course a human right to marry and found a family but this right is in the context of a male and female union.
In Irish law, legally there is no barrier to gay or lesbian person from marrying. Contrary to popular belief, It does not discriminate on the basis of sexuality. The issue is one of gender.
Proponents of same- sex marriage often say this is a basic issue of equality. This forms the central core of their argument. The Irish constitution under article 40.1 already guarantees equality to every citizen before the law . It does not however guarantee equality for every relationship. Marriage has never been a measure of equality. None of us have the right to marry whoever we want.
There are restrictions in marriage which are in place to serve the common good and integrity of the institution. A heterosexual couple cannot currently access a civil partnership. It does not make them less equal. I currently cannot run for President as I am too young. It does not mean I am less of a citizen. If we opened up marriage to all sorts of relationships, it would make no sense and present all sorts of problems.
For example, any union or relationship could claim ‘marriage equality’ and the state would be obliged to support and vindicate this idea of ‘equality’ in its marriage laws. Essentially the state would have to be blind to the nature of the relationship and even the number of people in this relationship . This would be nonsensical and make a mockery of the institution of marriage and its meaning.
We are often told that there is no redefinition of marriage involved in the push for same- sex marriage. That it is simply extending rights to gay and lesbian people. This does not survive the lightest of scrutiny.
Currently any adult can access marriage regardless of their sexuality so these rights are already there. It is also obvious that a change from the current view of marriage as between a man and woman to between any 2 legal adults does involve redefining it for everyone .
Essentially marriage would be genderless and removed from its link to children and family formation and towards a very adult romantic centred meaning. In my view, it would be reduced in status for everyone.
This won’t happen overnight and it could be many years before society views marriage as more adult and romantic centered but same sex marriage has already started this process which will slowly strip away any link to procreation and children. This has serious ramifications for society. It is simply unwise to base marriage ,the most important social institution we have on emotional and romantic feelings.
We are often told by supporters of same- sex marriage that it won’t affect anyone, only the two people getting married. This has already turned out to be a complete myth. There has been numerous cases already of people being disciplined in work, losing their business or job , demonized and hounded for not supporting same- sex marriage.
The Ashers case in Northern Ireland is a startling example of how the state apparatus can punish you for not believing in or endorsing the concept of same sex marriage. It must be remembered that same sex marriage is not even legal in Northern Ireland and here we have people dragged to court for simply refusing to bake a cake supporting something that is not recognised or legal.
Same – sex marriage and basic freedoms of conscience, speech and association are on a collision course and are not compatible. It has the potential to create deep resentment, hostility and a fractured society. Again, this is something politicians and nearly all proponents of same- sex marriage have failed to grasp and recognise.
It also contradicts the fanciful claims of gay marriage supporters who seem to think that it will create a new tolerant, compassionate society. On the contrary, we are already seeing a vicious illiberalism and intolerance particularly towards people with traditional views towards marriage. People of religious faith are particularly vulnerable in this new order and do feel their values and conscience are under attack.
We often hear from campaigners for same-sex marriage that the lesbian, gay , bisexual population is around 10 per cent. Many politicians and commentators have used this figure but it does not correspond to reality and seems to be used to give the impression that there are more lesbian, gay, bisexual people than there actually is to further certain agendas.
An Irish Times poll in March conducted a Family Values poll and only 4 per cent identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Of course there is a margin of error in any poll and not everyone is honest. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics puts the figure at 1.5 per cent. In the US the most widely cited polls put the figure at 3.5 per cent. All of these figures are a long way short of the quoted 10 per cent figure.
Constitutionally, this proposal does not make sense. We are being asked to amend article 41 headed ‘ The Family’. The Irish Constitution recognises the family based on marriage as ‘the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society’. It is this because of the openness to new life of the union of man and woman. Without this procreative capacity we don’t have family or society.
In fact human species would die out. If we vote ‘Yes’ we are inserting into our Constitution that same sex unions, who are without any natural capacity to procreate , are ‘natural primary and fundamental’ to society. Clearly same sex unions have a great intrinsic value in terms of their love and commitment but are they really the ‘primary and fundamental unit group of society ‘?
Ireland has some of the best and most robust civil partnership legislation in the world provided for same- sex couples. This is most welcome and can be strengthened with Constitutional protection. In many countries were same-sex marriage has been introduced the take up of it has not been strong and demand low.
Contrary to popular belief many same- sex couples are perfectly happy with civil partnership and like me believe that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. Critics of same- sex marriage are often viewed as ‘being on the wrong side of history’. Personally, I would much rather be on the right side of the truth.
This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.