Bishops restate gay marriage opposition
Ireland’s Catholic bishops have restated their opposition to gay marriage today, claiming that “sexual differentiation is intrinsic to our understanding of the sacrament of marriage”.
In a statement, the bishops said they had addressed the issue of the Christian theology of marriage at a meeting last week.
“In view of the current debate in our society about the nature of marriage, sometimes promoted by individuals or institutions who claim support from Christian ideals, the bishops reiterated that marriage presupposes the mutuality and complementarity of the sexes,” the statement said.
The bishops said that Christian tradition holds that sexual differentiation is intrinsic to our understanding of the sacrament of marriage and said that it had a meaning that “is not reducible to individuals’ intentions and society’s laws.”
“Marriage is not perceived as just any kind of relationship, but as a quite specific kind of relationship, with certain core characteristics,” the statement added.
The bishops said that marriage involves more than the commitment of two people to each other.
“It is oriented towards the sharing of their lives and the support they will give each other, and also towards the creation of new human beings as the fruit of their love. It is for the sake of these two objectives that the loving marital relationship between a woman and a man needs to be one that is faithful, exclusive and lasting,” the bishops’ statement added.
The statement comes during the 10-day Gay Pride festival, which has the theme Always the Bridesmaid and Never the Bride and is aiming to highlight the lack of partnership rights for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community.
A new Bill is being finalised under which same-sex partners will be able to avail of marriage-like benefits in a range of areas such as property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and tax.
However, it will not provide any right for same-sex couples to be considered as joint adoptive parents.
Although the new civil partnership legislation has been broadly welcomed, some equality groups claim the only way to achieve equality is to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry and have all the rights and benefits received automatically by married heterosexual couples.
In California today same sex marriages have been taking place after a Supreme Court ruling permitting them to wed. It is of course very controversial and there is going to be a referendum to see if the voters in California want to allow it to continue. In Ireland there have been discussions about a civil partnership bill similar to what they have in the UK. Let’s face it civil partnership really isn’t the same as marriage if it were why not just let gay people marry?
One reason why civil partnerships are different is because a civil partnership cannot give the same level of protection to the partners as those who are married enjoy. Married people in Ireland have rights under Art 41 of the Irish Constitution. However, it has been held by the Irish Courts (although there is an appeal to the Supreme Court at the moment) that a marriage is between a man and a woman therefore same-sex marriage is not possible under the Irish Constitution. This means that if the State allowed civil partnerships they wouldn’t have the rights under the Constitution because the State cannot change the Constitution without a referendum. The State could just mirror the rights in the Constitution and give them a statutory footing but, these really is just diluted rights that haven’t got much force.
In order to get same sex marriage the Supreme Court needs to interpret the Constituition to allow same sex marriage or we need to amend the Constitution. And with comments like above from the bishops I fear that we won’t have that for some time.