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Mixed response to civil partnerships bill from Ireland’s gay community

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  1. Simon Murphy 29 Jun 2009, 2:23pm

    There isn’t a mixed response to the Civil Partnership bill from Ireland’s gay community. There is widespread disdain for it.

    The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network seemt to be seriously out of step with the feeling of the majority of the gay community on this issue. GLEN is the only gay organisation that the government consulted on the question of partnership legislation. But GLEN cannot pretend that it has a mandate to speak on behalf of anyone except its own members.

    I think where GLEN made their mistake is that they are the group which originally started campaigning for civil partnership back in the 1990’s at a time when Civil Partnerships were the goal of the LGBT community as full civil marriage was not on the agenda.

    Since that time the goalposts have changed. Gay marriage in the Netherlands; Belgium; Spain; Norway; Sweden; Canada; South Africa; Nepal and many US states means the goalposts changed. GLEN did not realise this and do not appear to have consulted the community they were claiming to represent.

    By welcoming this discriminatory legislation GLEN are basically allowing the Irish government to think they are doing the gay community a favour and in the process the campaign for equality for gay relationships has been killed like has happened in the UK.

    GLEN cannot now even bring themselves to tell the Irish government that they think the CP legislation is merely a temporary measure as they know full well that if this CP law comes in then the struggle for equality is strangled.

    Gay Pride was on Saturday and it seemed to be the biggest in Dublin history. You could sense the anger from the majority of the attendees at the discriminatory new law.

    The Bill is not law yet. It is a real pity that the members of GLEN are ignoring the will of the majority of the people. Without their consent the Irish government may still change the bill. But GLEN don’t appear to have shown any sign of actually caring about equality for the community they claim to represent. They are only interested in short term gains

    GLEN do not appear to have any policies to achieve legal equality for gay relationships after this CP legislation is passed. As an organisation unless they have a plan

  2. Tim Roll-Pickering 29 Jun 2009, 2:29pm

    These civil partnerships may be unconstitutional in themselves. The relevant section of the Irish constitution says:

    “Article 41
    1° The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

    Creating an alternative to marriage is surely placing marriage under attack. Whatever one may say now, the floodgate against opposite sex civil partnership is likely to one day be breached.

    Surely it would be much better to bypass civil partnerships altogether and instead help guard the institution of marriage by allowing more people to partake in that institution?

    Or have the lawyers produced word games to block that one?

  3. Simon Murphy 29 Jun 2009, 2:30pm

    And if any member of GLEN tries to use the excuse being used by the Irish government ie that a referendum is required to change the constitution to allow access to civil marriage I will be very annoyed. No referendum is required. That is a stalling tactic by the government.

    Anyone who is interested should email the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and the Prime Minister Brian Cowen to condemn the Civil Partnership laws. Their emails are as follows:

    Minister for Justice:
    Prime Minisrer:

  4. Simon Murphy 29 Jun 2009, 2:34pm


    Dear Mr Ahern

    I am writing again to express my dissatisfaction at the Civil Partnership Bill which will allow gay and lesbian couples to register their relationships.

    The gay community deserve the same access to the legal contract of marriage as heterosexual people.

    There is no valid constitutional reason for not granting the gay community equal access to the contract of marriage despite your claims that there is.

    The only explanation for this discriminatory new legislation is that Fianna Fail does not believe gay people deserve equal rights under the law.

    I urge the Irish government to scrap this discriminatory new legislation in favour of proper equality. As law-abiding, tax-paying citizens the gay and lesbian community deserve nothing less than FULL equality.

    Yours sincerely

  5. The Iona Institute are a lone crank outfit, privately-funded. They represent neither the Catholic church nor the face of mainstream public opinion. It drives me nuts when they are quoted to provide ‘balance’ on stories. They exist only to pump out hate-filled, conservative press release, and quoting those press releases only gives their wing-nut views legitimacy.

    If the Iona Institute really are the only people opposing same-sex marriage, then we’re pushing at an open door, and it’s time we stopped listening to them and started realising our power.

  6. Robert, ex-pat Brit 29 Jun 2009, 4:18pm

    This is so regressive. While seven countries have already abolished civil unions/partnerships, Ireland now follows the UK’s bad example when in fact it should have followed Spain’s. With more countries optiong for full marriage, why would a society that thinks its progressive opt for something that is more about legal segregation than equality? Civil unions or partnerships are not the universal standard, it might be a different situation has the entire EU states adopted the same unions across the board, but it hasn’t and it won’t adding more inequality and confusion than ever.

  7. Robert, ex-pat Brit 29 Jun 2009, 4:19pm

    Excuse the typos in my previous post, I was in a bit of a hurry to post.

  8. Is this just another matter of semantics, or are there differences between civil partnerships and marriage?

  9. RobN – the main difference between an Irish civil partnership and a marriage will be that Irish civil partners will not be allowed to adopt jointly. So one civil partner won’t even be allowed to adopt the biological child of the other. Irish civil partnerships will be a much worse deal than the British equivalent.

    But the semantics are intentional – the term ‘civil partnership’ is intended to exclude us from the privileged status of marriage.

  10. Glitzfrau: Well on the child adoption matter, I and many gays are still not supporters of that, certainly not adopting other peoples children anyway. As for it not being a “marriage” in name only, who gives a shit? Most of us really don’t want to be associated with the church anyway. As long as all the other rights are equal, legal and binding, I really think this is all rather nitpicking.

  11. RobN: “Most of us really don’t want to be associated with the church anyway”

    Very true. But don’t let the church brainwash you into thinking they own marriage – they don’t. A church can refuse to marry a man and woman if one of the two has been divorced BUT that couple can then just go to a registry office and be married by the state in a civil marriage. Is it right that a gay couple, also refused by the church, can’t do that? If the churches want to nitpick, then surely NO-ONE should get married outside of church because a civil marriage isn’t ‘marriage under God’?

    I used to think it was just semantics too. I welcomed CPs in the UK and thought people who were fussing about the term were just being pedantic, but I’ve now changed my view. It doesn’t matter whether non-religious marriages are called marriages, CPs or whatever, but it DOES matter that they’re called the same for everybody A gender neutral civil marriage would be easy and fair.

    I can see why many LGBT people in Ireland are disappointed.

  12. Simon Murphy 30 Jun 2009, 9:51am

    #10: RobN – on the matter of adoption. If a lesbian couple has a child through artificial insemination and the biological mother dies then her CP will not get automatic guardianship of the child. That is a serious shortcoming. And the government has stated openly that they do not support gay marriage.

    The most annoying part of the whole thing is the treacherous Green Party who promised Civil Marriage but as soon as they went into power they rolled over and said that we should be happy with CP’s. If they are so easy with their promises then it’s quite clear they can’t be trusted on anything.

  13. Simon Murphy: Is this the same Green Party you were raving on about in the European Elections? Sounds to me like just another right-on bunch of pro-euro lefties that like to hug trees.

    But I voted for UKIP, who are a gnats knacker away from being Nazis, apparently.

  14. Simon Murphy 30 Jun 2009, 7:52pm

    RobN – you must be confusing me with someone else. I did not rave about any party at the Euro-elections. Unlike you – who did you support again Wasn’t it UKIP or the BNP or some other bunch of extremists?

  15. Robert, ex-pat Brit 4 Jul 2009, 1:52pm

    Glitzfrau, you’re absolutely right about that, civil partnerships are deliberate in segregating us from marriage. That’s the reason why the British government refuses to acknowledge legal same-sex marriages performed outside the UK for what they really are. Evidence of that is apparent once you enter the UK as a legally married couple. The marriage is downgraded to a civil partnership, its done because if it recognised these marriages as such, it would open a floodgate for British gays demanind full marriage equality. Its a regressive step. Civil Partnerships will NEVER be universal, not even in Europe with already five countries having abolished partnerships for marriage. The Irish and British models will not have any portability outside their respective countries once a couple leaves for another country. Seven countries now allow us to marry, each recognising the other’s same-sex marriages for what they are. This is not a good move on the part of the Irish government.

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