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Tatchell condemns Irish civil partnerships as ‘sexual apartheid’

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  1. Simon Murphy 8 May 2009, 5:56pm

    Hear hear. It bugs me no end to hear the Irish government lying about the need for a referendum to change the Irish constitution to allow same sex marriage. While the constitution does refer to a marriage being between a man and a woman, it also refers to the Irish president as male throughout. When Mary Robinson ran for Irish president in 1990 there was a debate whether she was even allowed to run without a referendum to change the constitution which would also allow women to run. That was dismissed immediately because the government at the time said that the constitution was a living document and the words that were written in the 1930’s are not to be taken literally as it is meant to evolve with the times. These days gay marriage is becoming more widely accepted so no referendum is required. It is merely a stalling tactic by the conservative government. In 1 way I hope there is a general election before the CP legislation is broughgt in. With a different government it may be easier to get equality.

  2. Brian Burton 8 May 2009, 6:15pm

    Simon Murphy,
    I never dreamed I would ever agree with you wholeheartedly. I certainly do on the Irish question.

  3. Civil partnerships would be a huge step forward for an Irish gay community that has no civil rights at all. I am offended by Tatchell’s blasting it like that. That makes us look terrible, just shooting ourselves in the foot. The CPs aren’t perfect but they will be lucky if they get even civil partnerships in a country with a strong Catholic lobby

  4. Simon. At no point in the Irish Constitution is marriage defined as being between a man and a woman. In fact the first time marriage was defined in Irish Law was in 2004. The argument is being made that this act (The Civil Registration Act 2004) should be changed to be gender neutral.

  5. Simon. The Irish Constitution does not define marriage as being between a man and a woman. No definition existed in Ireland until it was cynically incoporated into the Civil Registration Act 2004 as being between a man and a women. The argument is being made that the act should be simply amended to be gender neutral. The constitution impediment argument is a smoke-screen for a homophobic Government.

  6. Simon Murphy 9 May 2009, 4:00am

    Fair enough. But whenever marriage is mentioned in the constitution the words ‘he’ and ‘she’ are used.

  7. Steve In Maryland, USA 9 May 2009, 8:37am

    I’m all for gay equality. Civil Unions or Partnerships will pave the way for full marriage equality eventually, but giant steps that fail may simply delay the populace from realizing that gay people are good people, deserving of equality. And that is the real issue. Once that is really understood by most, the homophobic churches and their people will be seen as antiquated and the purveyors of hate in God’s name.

    What really should be done – making “marriage” a religious term only, with no civil law benefits, and making all civil law benefits, for str8 and gay alike available under civil law partnerships or unions. Including renaming all existing legal marriage benefits “civil union benefits”. Married people would continue to get these benefits simply by filling out a form acknowledging that their “Marriage” refers to their religious marriage, and their legal benefits come from their acknowledging their legal civil union partnership.

    The root fundamental change that is needed is to get relgion out of government and government out of religion. Separating religious marriage from civil law benefits and recognition will solve many of the problems.

    But sure, the religious people will scream, for it takes away some of their power. in response, I would suggest we all remember what the religious power of the Catholic church, combined with corrupt kings and emperors gave us. the thousand years of the dark ages, including the estimated 50 million Muslims murdered “in the name of God” It poisoned their society for millenia – it was their Holocaust (btw I am Jewish, we aren’t the only people who suffered from Christianity) , and 9/11 in the USA, bombings in London, are a direct outgrowth of the dark ages and the churches crusades.

    No wonder europe is so much more advanced then the USA, in granting gay people full or nearly full legal rights, and in the very low attendance at churches in europe, about 15%. And I’m told most of the attendees are widows looking for something to do and a new husband.

    Society will move on, and grow up and get rid of hatred in God’s name

  8. Very well said Steve, honestly never crossed my mind and that’s a solution with staggering clarity and simplicity. I have never felt quite comfortable with the term ‘marriage’ and favoured the civil partnership as if doesnt wear the religious dress (if both instances offer the same protection that is). By acknowledging the
    religious-ness of the marriage with no civil benefits attach to it but rather a civil union/partnership with the said benefits attached to them will be a step forward as it will afford equal rights and satisfy both parties, me not having a union under a religious banner and them for we not trespassig in their supernatural fairytale.

  9. Steve from Maryland epouses a very sensible way forward on this question which may very well prove palatable to a much larger proportion of society both in the British Isles and in the USA.

    As a Conservative it alarms me to agree wholeheartedly with Peter Tatchell but he too has hit the nail on the head with his admirable comments on the Irish Question of gay unions. What we have been given here in the UK and what the government in Eire are offering is a status of “separate but equal”, i.e. noneother than the approach of the Southern States of the US towards their black and white citizens right up until the 1960s. Whilst it is tempting to accept this formula as a big ‘step in the right direction’, like the gradual change in the age of gay consent here from 21 to 18 in the 1990s then to an equal 16 a decade ago, Peter is right to urge the Irish to go the whole hog and grant full equality now.

  10. Well done and well said, Peter Tatchell. Yet again.

    But also, “Steve in Maryland”, thanks for an interesting solution I haven’t come across before. I tend to agree. Marriage arose from religion, so let it go back there. If people wish to be “married”, then let them go and get the religious dressing in a church, synagogue, or other religious institution, but for legal purposes all couples must be “civilly partnered”.

    BUT there is a traditional and linguistic problem – aside from the religious origin. Gay and lesbian people in Civil Partnerships are already describing themselves as “married”. And many gay and lesbian people who are in no way religious wish to “be married” to their partners. Some of them, as you know, wish to use the terms “husband” and “wife” with regard to each other, presumably a gay-male civil partnership consisting therefore of two “husbands”. So we have to accept and respect this linguistic fact. We also have to accept the fact that “getting married” today for many heterosexual people involves no involvement in anything religious, the ceremony being performed at the Registry Office.

    So I am afraid we have a problem of entrenched terminology, difficult to expunge. You can change a country’s currency, force everybody to stop talking about pounds, shillings, and pence and MAKE THEM refer to dollars and cents or Euros, but could we expunge for the greater majority the terms “marriage”, “getting married”, “husband”, and “wife”? I think not, unfortunately. Particularly as those terms would remain in existence and use because of their use by the religious. To expunge them fro9m general use, they would have to be expunged completely and the religious will never have that.

    So as excellent as your idea is I think we have to move in the direction Peter has outlined. We have to move forwards with what we’ve got. Everybody can get married, a marriage can consist of two husbands or two wives or one of each, and from the new definition of marriage we must strip all silly trappings of religion. Surely it should be the religions and the believers in voo-doo that suffer.

  11. Brian Burton 9 May 2009, 12:17pm

    I was joined in Civil Partnership three years ago. We both knew when we went to the ‘Registrar Of Births Deaths And Marriages’ at my local Civic Centre that there would be no religious over-tones involved, and there was’nt. We have been living together for some years before our legalized union, and the main reason (only from our point of view) we ‘Married’ was to safe-gaurd each other’s estates in the event of one dying before the other. So our respective families could not leagally claim on either estate. So, the question is, in our case, Marrage, Civil partnership. What differance do’s it make?

  12. Peter Tatchell is right, but no Irish government is likely to oppose the entrenched power of the church in Eire. That does not mean that pressure should not be applied. Everyone couple joined in a legal partnership, should have the right to be described with the same terminology, whether gay or straight. In my view everyone should have a civil contract, and leave the church to call their offering whatever it sees fit.

  13. Robert, ex-pat Brit 9 May 2009, 2:13pm

    Civil marriage has absolutely NOTHING to do with religious marriage. The state issues marriage licences, not the religious denominations.

    I have no problem with civil partnerships per se, as long as they are recognised as legal marriages, but in reality, they are not. Amend the Marriage Causes act to reflect it, terminology can easily be changed later. Currently, they are not equal to marriage. If that were the case, they would be interchangeable. So far, no straight couple is allowed to form a civil partnership by choice and no gay couple is allowed to marry, so that only proves they are not equal unless they are enshrined in the law of the land as such.

    Using the Irish constitution to deny same-sex marriage didn’t actually work in Spain now did it, with a far larger catholic population than Ireland. Sure, it me with strong opposition, but Spain succeeded. There is absolutely no excuse why Ireland can’t. This has more to do with homophobia promoted by the church.

  14. the Irish government is hiding behind the excuse of a referendum on gay marriage. but who could blame them?

    Cowen & Co. are already deeply unpopular because of the state of the Irish economy, they don’t want to antagonise the small but extremely vocal Catholic lobby.

    Remember the bitter divorce and abortion referenda?

    They can give as many excuses, as they wish, this issue will not go away. Civil Parnerships are an “Irish solution to an Irish problem”, and look at the mess C.J.H. got us into, on contraception with that quote.

    governments in Ireland have an awful habit of doing things half-heartly. Not sorting out the problem, head on and coming up with a real, viable soluccion.

    which is here, full rights & gay marriage.

    alas, for that to happen, one may have to wait a very very long time.

  15. Bill Perdue 9 May 2009, 4:50pm

    I think we all understand that marriage is the big money maker for the lazy cultist fakers who “perform” them. Potential loss of income is why they’re so pigheadedly opposed to same sex marriage.

    First we took away the altar boys and now they might have to get real jobs. You can see why they’re so upset.

    A decent society would put them to work doing something productive. Remember, these are men and (a tiny few) women who are too slothful and uneducated to hold down productive jobs so they make money gulling the gullible. They’re reprehensible.

    Tatchell’s right, it is a form of apartheid. Civil unions and civil partnerships are inherently a form of second class citizenship. That’s a status to be avoided at all costs. Ask the descendents of German Jews from the generations alive in the 1930’s.

  16. Bill, I like your unusual take on this question, i.e. that “marriage is the big money maker for the lazy cultist fakers who ‘perform’ them. Potential loss of income is why they’re so pigheadedly opposed to same sex marriage.”

    Yep, there’s far fewer baptisms and christenings happening in churches these days (along with poor general attendance on Sundays etc), so that mainly leaves them with deaths and marriages to preside over. But as more and more people are turning to the crematorium or to jolly woodland burials, so the “cultist fakers” have to keep a grip on marriage AND ON THEIR TERMS!

    Of course, if they were sensible and businessmen they would see that agreeing whole-heartedly to gay marriages would actually bring them in some revenue because there are a good number of gays and lesbians who would go for a full slap-up church wedding. (Certainly not me though! :-))

  17. Robert, ex-pat Brit 10 May 2009, 3:32pm

    Bill, you’re absolutely right about that. What galls me even more is that religious cults are granted tax-exempt status while the rest of us pay. Why should anyone be above the tax laws and when they are, they have absolutely no business meddling in and advocating for discriminatory legislation against gay tax paying citizens. Religious cultists are always playing the victim card at our expense. If they want a say, make them go out and get real jobs, tax them. A lot of these cults are nothing more than businesses fronting as religion if you look at the real estate, stocks and bonds they invest in and all the tax exemptions and avoidance thereof that come with it. They are nothing more than parasitical elitists, the biggest panderers and promoters of fear mongering, hate and intolerance, the modus operandi of conservative right wingers and to a lesser extent a few in the labour party.

  18. Vincent Poffley 11 May 2009, 10:48am

    Would we think it acceptable to give men driving licenses but women special seperate-but-equal “civil vehicle operation licenses”? What about if able-bodied people were allowed to vote but disabled people had to engage in “civil government selection” procedures? Or maybe ginger-haired people would have to call their sons and daughters “civil offspring” while everyone else was allowed to call theirs children? Would anyone at all stand for that?

    Marriage is not a religious thing. It pre-dates religion and was usurped by religious ideas. They stole it – it is high time we took it back. There is no reason at all that religious prejudices should be taken into account when deciding important civic and legal issues.

  19. Robert, ex-pat Brit 11 May 2009, 1:17pm

    Vincent, quite. The thing is, religion thinks it owns marriage, it doesn’t, its purely a religious belief, nothing more. Civil marriage has absolutely NOTHING to do with religion, never has, never will. To prove a point, in France, no marriage is legal unless its been performed by the Mayor’s office at the local “mairie”, town hall. Brides even wear white wedding dresses. It is up to the couple if they choose to have their marriage solemnized by the church and is not a requirement of the state but a personal choice of the couple, the way it should be.

    Yes, you’re right, marriage does predate religion and its all man made anyway based on implication from the creationist fable. In fact, the word marriage doesn’t exist in the bible either. A lot of what is found in iy is rejected by many religions, though most claim that they believe in the scriptures when it comes to singling out Leviticus and the creationist fairy tale to denigrate gay people, yet they conveniently reject or ignore other references that would put them at odds with their core beliefs. In the book of Exodus for example, polygamy is permitted….there is NO mention of their god condemning it, neither did Jesus Christ in the new testament. This is another argument they use for denying marriage equality that by allowing same-sex marriage, all kinds of other forms will take place involving more than two people, and the usual nonsense they spew. So far, they’ve not produced the evidence in Holland, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, Canada or the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont or Iowa in America to back it up. Its nothing more than fear mongering as we saw in California recently, the m.o. of the republican party and most religious cults. The reason why there is no full marriage equality in the UK is the church and cowardly politicians on both sides of the aisle living in fear of them or in the case of most, sucking up to them. That’s not democracy either. Its going to catch up with them, just wait and see.

  20. Bishop Ioan 11 Jun 2009, 4:09pm

    I am not sure how things work in Ireland, but if it works anything like the US, there are hundreds of rights and benefits attatched to “marriage” which do not extend to “civil unions”. If the couples who enter into civil unions have all of those rights, then I can see settling for that for the time being. On the other hand, why do we have to always settle something that won’t disturb the straights’ comfort zone?

    Also, as pointed out above, the churches and other monotheistic relgions do not own the word “marriage”, and by pandering to the belief of homophobes that they own the word only makes them more secure in that belief. So, if civil marriage preceded religious marriage, then the homophobes need to get over themselves.

    In the US “separate but equal” was considered acceptable until the Supreme Court finally struck it down. LGBTQ people are citizens, LGBTQ people pay taxes–they should have all the rights of full citizenship, nothing less.

  21. Raymond S. Decelles-Smith 25 Jun 2009, 10:44pm

    We are Canadians. partnered for 33 years, married legally for six years, and with a six year old son. I agree. The civil union or partnership is the heterosexist last stand. It says that marriage is still a heterosexist institution. The UK and now Ireland want lesser rights. Think of the nations, the eight who have braved homophobia and theocratic bigotries, to get us here.

    Tatchell is right. Once you concede to these homophobic heterosexists that inferior rights is all you deserve, then that is what you will get, in perpetuity.

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