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Letter to the Editor of Irish Times re Civil Partnership Bill

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.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2008/0711/1215677267266.html

My response:

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 [1985] 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.

 

Yours,

Robert Donohoe

 

UPDATE:

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

Thanks, Ciarán

 

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"There Are No Gays in Iran": But, Ireland’s Sending One Back!

It was reported in the Irish press that Ireland plan to deport an Iranian national back to Iran despite his life being in danger because he is gay. It is reported that “the deputy Iranian Foreign Minister said [in the Irish Parliament] last week that they will ‘not do it from a crane on the back of a lorry anymore but they will still do it.” refering to the execution of gay people that return to Iran’.

Senator Norris, the man that took the case to the European Court of Human Rights to legalise homosexuality in Ireland, said in the Senate “What are we doing and where is the accountability? In the name of the Oireachtas [Irish Parliament], I demand that the practice of deporting a person under those conditions should be ceased immediately.”

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Ireland’s Bigot Senator

With news that Ireland is to have civil union for its citizens soon Senator Jim Walsh is trying to stop same-sex unions because of his bigotry.

FF Senator leads move to deny gay couples right to register

MARK HENNESSY, Political Correspondent

A GROUP of Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators is seeking to reverse a Government decision to allow gay and lesbian couples register their relationships with the State.

A party motion put forward last night by Wexford-based Senator Jim Walsh demanded that nothing should be done in the upcoming Civil Partnership Bill that would in any way lessen the “special status” enjoyed by heterosexual marriage under the Constitution.

The issue is to be discussed at next week’s meeting of Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party, and the Government is likely to ask the parliamentary party’s justice committee to consider it.

Last night, senior backbench TDs and Senators said they believed that between a dozen and 30 members of the parliamentary party had signed Senator Walsh’s motion. The Senator himself did not return calls from The Irish Times last night.

The language used in the motion, which focused on the need to maintain the special place of heterosexual couples, has been deliberately chosen in a bid to ensure that the signatories can reject allegations that they are seeking to discriminate against same-sex couples in any way.

“The motion would have considerable support from the more conservative sections of the parliamentary party,” said a senior Senator last night, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“I don’t see any great need to legislate in this area. I have my own views on it. Let people do what they want, but I don’t see the need to be putting things into the statute book,” said another, who equally would not be quoted by name.

Under the parliamentary party’s rules, motions for debate for meetings have to be lodged with the group’s chairman, Louth TD Séamus Kirk, by the previous Thursday.

The Cabinet cleared the heads of the legislation last Tuesday, and a full Bill should be ready to go before the Houses of the Oireachtas in six months and to be law within about a year.

The Civil Partnership Bill would give gay and lesbian couples greater rights and control over pensions, inheritance and tax, but it would not allow same-sex couples to adopt.

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/frontpage/2008/0627/1214516624201.html?via=mr

I am disgusted by his closed mindedness. I am urgeing people to not vote for him or anyone that supports his motion in the next election. I am also asking everyone to contact him and inform him that you do not support what he is doing.

Contact him at:

086 8139971  Mobile

01 6183000    Office

Address

Mountgarrett Castle
New Ross
Co. Wexford.

Email

Jim.Walsh@oireachtas.ie

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Silvio Berlusconi: What is he at?

Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘iron fist’ laws approved

Soldiers could be sent into Italy’s cities, illegal immigrants will be imprisoned for four years and all non-serious court cases will be frozen for a year under new measures approved by Italy’s senate.

The senate voted 166 to 123 to approve a wide-ranging package of measures which will allow Silvio Berlusconi to govern Italy with an iron fist.

Mr Berlusconi, 71, will now be able to use as many as 3,000 soldiers for up to six months in order to fight crime. Previously, the use of the army had to be agreed by the parliament beforehand. The first destination for the troops is likely to be Naples, where Mr Berlusconi faces violent opposition to his plans for dealing with the city’s rubbish crisis.

The perma-tanned billionaire will also no longer have to worry about his ongoing court case for allegedly corrupting David Mills, the husband of Tessa Jowell, the Olympic minister. Mr Berlusconi is accused of giving Mr Mills £350,000 in order to stand favourable witness in a separate trial. Both men deny wrong-doing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/2186369/Silvio-Berlusconi%27s-%27iron-fist%27-laws-approved.html

The European Union is apparently in trouble because Ireland has voted no to its treaty which would reform the EU institutions. I think that the EU is in more trouble with this guy ruling one of its members. The State of Italy seems to me to be heading frantically towards the type of member that we can’t have in the EU. We cannot allow States to act in ways that are clearly violations of human rights. There needs to be a very serious look taken at what is happening in Italy and we need to make it clear what is expected of them as members of the EU.

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A Time to Preach and a Time to Teach!

I was happy to read in the news today that the christian brothers have handed over the schools they own to a trust that has been set up to run them. The article says that the trust is run by lay people; which is really a step in the right direction in my view.
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0619/1213810561013.html
It is time to get the church out of schools. The State should have control of all the schools that it pays for and take them out of the hands of the churches. If you take a look at the ethos break down of the primary schools in this State you will see that out of 3289 schools there are about 3025 that are catholic then there are some church of Ireland; some jewish; presbyterian; islamic and so on.

In fact in Ireland there are no schools that are not religious. Look at the Education Act, 1998 requires the school to have a patron , a person that set the policy of the schools, it is invariably the local bishop. Second level schools are usually run by the churches and even the community schools are required to have a chaplain. This was challenged in the Courts as being contrary to the Irish Constitution and it was held by the Courts that the paying of €1.2m every year for chaplains was not endowment of religion.

I am working on a more detailed post than this but, I seen this news today and said I should post what I thought about it.


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Bishops to Queens: Gay Marriage in Ireland

Bishops restate gay marriage opposition
Charlie Taylor

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.

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/0616/breaking62.htm

 

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. 


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Lisbon: Are the Irish People too Stupid to Vote?


Europe is reeling at Ireland for not being able to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon; the Irish People said in a referendum that they didn’t want to approve the Bill that would amend the Constitution to allow the Irish Parliament to ratify the Treaty. No other countries in Europe had to have a referendum to ratify so why did Ireland? This is a very interesting point, Ireland’s Constitution makes it’s Parliament the sole lawmaker for the State–it and it alone can make law. This means that when EU law claims to be enforceable in Irish Courts and when EU law claims to be higher than Irish law even the Irish Constitution there is a conflict. In order to address this a provision was added to the Constitution by the 3rd Amendment which makes Article 29.4.10° state:


No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or of the Communities, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the European Union or by the Communities or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the Treaties establishing the Communities, from having the force of law in the State.

This means that EU law takes precedence over the provisions of Irish Law. The Irish Courts siad after this Amendment was passed that there was an expectation that the Union would develop and change. However, where the change was serious and ground-breaking then the changes effected by that Treaty would not be afforded that exemptions from Constitutional compliance in Article 29.4.10° (above) and that in order for them to be given that exemption they could have to be approved by a referendum to amend the Constitution to allow that State to ratify the Treaty. However, the Courts did say only serious ground-breaking changes needed to be put to a referendum there is an argument to say that the Irish government are being too cautious in what they regard as serious and ground-breaking. The Treaty of Maastricht was clearly ground-breaking and thus needed a referendum but, Amsterdam and Nice were less so and may not have needed one. I don’t know how the Courts would regard the Lisbon Treaty in terms of its effect on EU law–would it be ground-breaking enough to require a referendum?

So you see why the Irish people got to vote on Lisbon whereas all the other member States were denied this vote. I think this is a democratic deficit in the way the EU works; surly all major amending treaties should as part of there terms require approval by the People; I am not sure what form this should take–nation by nation, pan-Europe or some other form I don’t know yet but, it is important for democracy that people are consulted more directly.

This takes us to the argument that People aren’t smart enough to vote on Treaties like Lisbon–they are huge complicated documents that work on such varied topics that they can’t be fully understood by regular people. Looking at the Treaty of Lisbon it is a complicated document that needs a lot of work to understand the meaning of some parts of it because it is now an amending treaty so it has to be read with all the other treaties of Europe in order to be able to decide what it means. This is not an argument for not allowing the People to vote on it though it just means that for those of us that don’t understand the treaty for whatever reason it must be explained to us and debate must be allowed for people to form a view on it.

Europe is for the People of Europe; it is their Union and they deserve to be heard and when politicians say that we aren’t clever enough to decide for ourselves how we want to see our Union develop it is an indictment on their fitness to lead us.

As a matter of clarification I voted ‘Yes’ to the treaty but, I respect the vote of the Irish People as a democratic decision that was denied to the rest of Europe.



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