This is my letter is response to a letter to the Editor of the Irish Times about the Civil Partnership Bill. First, the letter I am responding to.
Madam, – Leo O’Shaughnessy (July 4th) appears to take grave offence at the suggestion that the Government’s proposed legislation for same-sex unions could undermine marriage. He argues that the Bill is designed to ensure that “the institution of marriage remains untouched”.
By this he presumably means that the Government has not attempted to redefine marriage. This is true, but the legislation indirectly diminishes the status of marriage by conferring similar rights and benefits on registered same-sex unions. Similarly, the lesser protections proposed in the same Bill for cohabiting heterosexual and same-sex couples also undermine the unique standing marriage has, and should have, in society.
The distinction between marriage and other forms of sexual relationship is being gradually obscured. It is clear why the State has always favoured marriage: it is naturally orientated towards the procreation and raising of children. It is unclear why the State should favour any other kind of sexual relationships over and above, for example, that of a couple whose relationship is based on familial ties, such as two brothers living together.
Mr O’Shaughnessy says my statement (July 3rd) that same-sex unions experience a higher level of violence and mental and physical illness is “born of the worst kind of bigotry”; and Dr Colm Humphries (July 5th) suggests I need to consider my own biases. Yet studies such as “Violence Between Intimates”, published by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics in November 1994, indicate that violence is two to three times more common among homosexual partners than among married couples. The homosexual authors of Men Who Beat The Men Who Love Them also claimed that domestic violence affected half of all gay couples. The leading US gay magazine The Advocate reported that 75 per cent of its readers admitted engaging in violent sex, with a further 20 per cent engaging in sadistic sex. A study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examining conflict in lesbian relationships discovered that a third of those surveyed had experienced one or more incidents of physical abuse. Many other studies confirm these findings.
Male homosexuals also have a significantly reduced life expectancy, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 1997, most likely as a consequence of the health risks of their lifestyle. As regards mental illness, a review of studies entitled “Homosexuality and mental illness”, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1999 stated that “homosexual people are at a substantially higher risk for some form of emotional problems”. I fail to see how I am guilty of bigotry or bias because I refer to this evidence.
Personally, I believe the State should refrain from legislating for any kind of unions other than marriage. In my view, it is not I that should “stop caring about what goes on behind closed doors”, as Mr O’Shaughnessy recommends, but rather the Government.
– Yours, etc,MICHAEL O’DRISCOLL, Blackrock, Cork.
Madam – Michael O’Driscoll’s letter (July 11th) is his attempt to justify his bigotry. Mr. O’Driscoll recognises that the Civil Partnership Bill does not in anyway treat the institution of marriage worse than Civil Partnerships or else it would be held to be unconstitutional. In fact marriage will remain as the ‘fundamental unit of our society’ (Art 41 of the Constitution) because inter alia marriage will retain the Constitutional rights afforded to it by Art 41 whereas Civil Partnerships will only have legislative rights.
Mr. O’Driscoll says that the Bill will ‘diminish the status of marriage by conferring similar rights and benefits on same-sex couples’ this is pure sophism. Why would giving people rights diminish the institution of marriage? Mr. O’Driscoll goes on to say that ‘the lesser protections for heterosexual couples…undermine the unique standing marriage has…in our society’ I suggest that Mr. O’Driscoll does not think much of the institution of marriage if he thinks that people will choose lesser protections over greater protections. I feel that people will chose based upon their own considered opinion with regard to their subjective circumstance and that we aren’t going to see the end of marriage as a result of this.
Even if it were true that people will abandon en masse marriage for civil partnerships the Supreme Court held in Muckley v. Ireland  IR 472 that treatment of any persons that constitutes an inducement not to get married is not an attack on the institution of marriage. It is therefore irrelevant if this Bill will encourage people not to get married, which of course will only apply to heterosexual couples covered by the Bill, provided that marriage remains greater or equal to Civil Partnerships.
Mr. O’Driscoll goes on to say that marriage is special because it is a orientated towards procreation. Based upon this logic Mr. O’Driscoll would deny marriage to any couples incapable of conceiving a child. In my opinion this is not the purpose of a marriage Mr. O’Driscoll disregards the plethora of reasons for marriage including love and companionship. To reduce marriage to a means of procreation is very utilitarian and demeaning to the human condition.
Cited in Mr. O’Driscoll letter are articles he suggests vindicated his position that homosexual relationships are sinister. In his letter Mr. O’Driscoll referred to the book Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them as support for this argument if Mr. O’Driscoll Googled this book he would know that one of its authors has said that the statistics are not capable of supporting an argument against gay marriage. Mr. O’Driscoll also refers to a report by the US Dept. of Justice called Violence Between Intimates I gave the report a quick read and was unable to glean the statistics that Mr. O’Driscoll cites. However, this type of argument is not sustainable because there are huge amounts of more recent data contrary to what Mr. O’Driscoll has cited. I suggest he do a Google search. Even if it were true that homosexual couples are more prone to violence what is this an argument against same-sex marriage if I were to adduce reports and overwhelming evidence that miscegenation caused violence in the home would it be time to stop interracial marriage?
How is it relevant that 75% of homosexuals ‘admitted’ to having ‘violent’ sex and 20% to having sadistic sex? People can have any type of lawful sex they like. This is indicative of nothing. In fact it is demonstrative of Mr. O’Driscoll closed-mindedness.
It is clear that Mr. O’Driscoll does not want gay relationships it is time he admitted the real reason why; he doesn’t like homosexuality.
Someone has written an excellent post in reposnse to Mr. O’Driscoll’s letter. Read it here at: http://www.orcid.net/2008/07/11/lies_damn_lies_and_cogging_conservative_websites