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Ireland: Constitutional Convention votes overwhelmingly in favour of referendum on same-sex marriage

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  1. Jock S. Trap 14 Apr 2013, 1:49pm

    Marriage shouldn’t be a referendum issue it should be a basic human rights issue and I’m sick of being up for debate when the hypocrites wouldn’t stand for being debated on the same issues themselves.

    1. It’s too complicated to go into the Irish legislation in this forum, but while I entirely agree with your sentiments, you don’t understand the legalities and complexities of the Irish Constitution.

      However, by way of brief explanation:

      The Irish Constitution was drawn up when Ireland was quite literally ruled by the Catholic Church.

      It was written not by independent thinking politicans, or free-thinkers, but by Bishops and Archbishops.

      Hence many of Ireland’s laws now need referendums to be changed.

      At the time, the Catholic Church never foresaw a day when the Irish citizen would ever stand up and vote against the Church’s wishes.

      1. Thanks for this explanation Paul

      2. Helge Vladimir Tiller 14 Apr 2013, 3:43pm

        Thank you so much from me too ! ( Norway )

      3. Constitutions and constitutional amendments shouldn’t be subject to this kind of referendum. And, why does the definition of marriage have to be in the constitution?

      4. ‘you don’t understand the legalities and complexities of the Irish Constitution.’

        I actually don’t think you do either.

        It’s actually quite simple. The Irish constitution is obliged to protect marriage from attack and marriage is based on the family. The Irish constitution does not define family or marriage. In theory, marriage could be extended to same sex couples without a referendum. Many experts on constitutional law do believe this is possible.

        However, it’s possible the Supreme Court might define the family as one man and one woman (based on tradition and case law rather than on a definition in the constitution). The Government, based on unpublished advice from the Attorney General believe that they would do this. Hence, their preference is to have a referendum to avoid it being rejected by the Supreme Court.

        I also don’t believe that human rights should be up for a popular vote but the Government seems intent on this route.

  2. Alternative Gay Pride 14 Apr 2013, 1:56pm

    “Christopher Jones, the chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family, announced earlier this month that he would submit his opposition to a referendum to the Convention.”

    Tht’s funny, in Scotland the Church wants one, because they think (wrongly) that it would go in their favour, but in Ireland, where they are despised these days, they oppose one, because they think it would go against them. So it really has little to do with principal and “the voice of the people” and more to do with whatever tactic they think will prevent equal marriage.

    Hopefully in Ireland they wont be funding vitriolic attacks on gay people, the violent results of which we have seen in France.

    1. In Ireland’s system of government, amendments to the constitution have to be approved by referendums. The constitution doesn’t specifically limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, but it has been interpreted that way by the courts in the past, and there seems to be uncertainty whether, if the government simply passed a same-sex marriage law, the courts would consider it to be valid. If they do it this way, that won’t be an issue, and it would also be much harder for same-sex marriages to be banned again in the future (because it is expected that the amendment will *require* the government to recognise them, not just allow them to).

      1. Thank you for that info, James. So let’s hope a referendum on SSM goes ahead then!

        1. No, let’s not. Why is it necessary, since marriage isn’t even in the constitution? Moreover, it’s not certain that a majority will actually vote in favour. And, it sets an awful precedent for all other countries that are trying to pass gay marriage, where their rabid right will be baying for a referendum, screaming “but Ireland did, you are denying us our rights by not letting us have one too!” And, in France and New Zealand, which have both been passing SSM recently, after the hate campaigns opinion polls show the number in support has fallen. Referendums are a shit way to decide human rights.

      2. And what if the Irish population vote against same sex marriage?

        This is a strong possibility.

        I can guarantee that the anti campaign are going to unleash a campaign of utter hatred against our community in the lead up to the vote.

        Civil rights are no dependent on popular votes (irrespective of what the constitution says).

        1. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 10:25pm

          They won’t….. The last poll showed a 78% support for marriage equality in Ireland,…………..As was pointed out earlier it is necessary to have a referendum in order to change or modify the constitution. There is no way around it other than have a referendum to not have have a referendum in order to change or modify the Irish Constitution….it is that way so that a government cannot make changes to the Constitution without the expressed will of the people via a referendum. Ireland is a constitutional democratic Republic.

        2. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 10:39pm

          Religion in Ireland is a busted flush for the last twenty years. The churches wouldn’t dare, especially the Roman Catholics after what they were caught doing to Irish children for centuries…. Ireland is probably the only mainly “catholic” country to close it’s Embassy to the Vatican Two years ago…

  3. Well, let’s hope that Ireland’s government respects the wishes of the majority of its Constitutional Convention and that a national referendum on legalising same-sex marriage WILL BE HELD!

    Well done, Ireland’s Constitutional Convention!

    1. If the public rejects same sex marriage in Ireland then it will be another 30 years before there will be equality in Ireland.

      A referendum on this is an utter disgrace.

      In fact the Irish Constitution sounds like an utter disgrace if it means that minority rights are dependent on popular will.

      1. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 9:59pm

        They won’t The last poll showed a 78% support for marriage equality in Ireland,…………..As was pointed out earlier it is necessary to have a referendum in order to change or modify the constitution. There is no way around it other than have a referendum to not have have a referendum in order to change or modify the Irish Constitution….it is that way so that a government cannot make changes to the Constitution without the expressed will of the people via a referendum. Ireland is a constitutional democratic Republic.

        1. What about if a government in another country wants to pass same-sex marriage but they know there isn’t a majority in favour of it? Should they abandon their plans?

        2. But, what about the precedent Ireland is setting for other countries? Basically, you are saying that only in countries where it is certain that a majority would vote in favour is gay marriage possible. So, instead of gay people in other countries having marriage equality as a basic human right, they will have to wait for years and decades for their societies to “evolve”. This does gays outside of Ireland no favours.

  4. Does this mean there’s going to be a referendum? Or simply that this body is recommending the Irish government holds one? Also, would this apply to the northern six counties, as the article said MLAs are included in this Constitutional Convention? Sorry for my ignorance on Irish politics.

    I don’t think a minority’s rights should ever be voted on by a majority, but public opinion is way ahead of parliamentary opinion in both parts of Ireland. I just worry this is will be hijacked by the catholic church.

    Also, does Ireland’s constitution limit marriage to mixed gender couples? Because a constitutional change is what would force a referendum there.

    1. The Constitutional Convention is only in a advisory position. Any recommendations must be written a report, this report will be presented to Government and to Parliament which is called the Oireachtas in Ireland and both will have votes to proceed or not to proceed.

      MLAs are on the Constitutional Convention but any recommendations will not have any advisory or permanent effect in Northern Ireland because Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. UK law on Equal marriage will take effect in Northern Ireland.

      At present, the Irish Constitution states that a marriage is the corner stone of the family without reference to gender. There is still considerable debate in the Republic whether a referendum is needed at all to change the Constitution to allow same sex marriage because there is no reference to gender.

      Any additional information can be found on Wikipedia which is pretty good regarding Irish Politics and Law :-)

      1. Tim Hopkins 14 Apr 2013, 3:59pm

        Just to add that marriage law in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly. Marriage law in England and Wales is a matter for the UK Parliament, and in Scotland it’s a matter for the Scottish Parliament! Having said that, there might be the possibility of a court challenge if NI refuses same-sex marriage but it is enacted in other parts of the UK.

        1. Apologies for my ignorance. I believed that Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was for the whole UK, however it is only for England and Wales. :-)

          (Dear oh dear, the Constitutional situation in the UK is complex :-P)

      2. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:02pm

        ” UK law on Equal marriage will take effect in Northern Ireland.”……. Unfortunately it won’t The Government of the North of Ireland is devolved to Stormont and must pass it’s own laws an all except taxation.

        There already has been a vote on ME in the North but it failed as expected because the protestant/loyalist MLAs voted against. But we will keep trying every six months or so. The reason for the referendum is because the judges have been adjudicating as if the constitution referred to gender which it doesn’t so in order to stop this and to stop interpreting Marriage Equality is going to be enshrined in Law…

  5. Expect the irish catholic church to get very evil and nasty if this civil/human right is left up to a referendum, what next ?Ireland decides to determine the tiny jewish minoritiy’s civil liberties in the country.

    1. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:12pm

      They absolutely would not dare. They on very shaky ground in Ireland. The Roman Catholic cult no longer has any say in Irish life since they were found out to be raping Irish children for decades possibly centuries. Ireland even threw out the Vatican ambassador and closed our Embassy in the Vatican. Ratzi the Nazi was wanting to visit in 2010 and he was told in no uncertain terms to shove it and stay in Rome or risk being arrested by Irish police and charged with crimes against humanity, the feeling was so high and still is. Only 27% of Irish people now attend church from a figure of nearly 89% twenty years ago….

  6. Robert in S. Kensington 14 Apr 2013, 2:43pm

    In Ireland’s case, bring on the referendum and I think it will pass. It could well be that Ireland introduces equal marriage before the UK since support is much higher there. Now wouldn’t it be delicious if it happens before the UK, assuming it’s rejected by the Lords before the summer? It might well dampen the opposition’s enthusiasm for a referendum of our own. Sometimes wishing what you hope for can work against you. I think it would be a sobering moment for C4M if that were to happen a well as for their shills among the Tory back benchers.

    1. Turns out it has been scheduled for the end of next year and not the end of this year.
      I was a little saddened to hear we won’t get to vote on it so soon (other issues taking precedence for the end of this year), but hopefully momentum will build even higher for 2014.

  7. This is such a historic moment in the Republic of Ireland’s history.

    That 79% of the Convention voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriage be introduced in Ireland, is ground breaking.

    It shows that the shackles and previously held ransoms and privileges of the Catholic Church’s powerful position in Ireland have been reduced to making representations as opposed to dictating.

    Next steps:

    1. Report and Proposals to the Dail.

    2. Debate in the Dail within 4 months from now.

    3. Referendum.

    Given that the most important leading politicians have indicated they’re in favour of same-sex marriage, I have no doubt that there will be a referendum.

    Even the leader of Fine Gael, a political party which has been historically a staunch supporter of the Catholic Church has said he is personally in favour.

    A momentous day.

    I never would have imagined this when I left Ireland in 1985 when homosexuality was still an offence.

    1. Indeed it is a historic moment in the Republic’s history.

      And it will be an indelible stain on Ireland’s record of human rights if our equality depends on a vote.

      The Irish Constitution sounds appalling.

      Are all minority or other rights in Ireland dependent on a vote?

      1. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:24pm

        Ireland’s Constitution is one of the strongest and fairest in the entire world; It is modeled on the American Constitution with some important omissions and changes which makes the Irish version better than it’s American cousin. If you want to comment on it I suggest you download and read it. It is not appalling. If a right is mentioned in the constitution then by law it can only be changed by a referendum of the people. This particular law does not require change but the referendum is necessary to make clear something that has been (wrongly but accepted for years) interpreted by judges and that is gender. Marriage law does not mention Gender in the Con. but judges interpreted it that, when it was written, the writers had gender in mind as that was the accepted norm of the day the 1920s….The referendum will make interpretation null and the law clear that it applies to all irrespective of Gender….

  8. Catholic propaganda will be turned up to 11 very soon. and I expect homophobic violence will go up as dramatically as it did in France.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the referendum fails because of it.

    1. There is a very strong chance the referendum will fail.

      The campaign of hatred to demonise and vilify our community will be an absolute nightmare.

      This story really is appalling.

    2. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:28pm

      No it won’t. I am amazed how little the commentators on this thread know of Ireland of late that they think the Catholic church still holds sway. Read my comments above…. Ireland is a very open country and very easy to read up on. Does anyone do research anymore….? sheesh

  9. I am a US citizen but had a civil union ceremony in Co. Wicklow last August. The reason why this is more than semantics for me is that if the US Surpreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act this spring, my relationship with my Irish partner will not be recognized here because you consider it a civil union rather than a marriage. We in the US need your leadership Ireland!

  10. The Irish government has 4 months to respond.

    I hope their response is ‘There will be no referendum on same sex marriage, as civil rights for a minority are not dependenf on popular will. We will be introducing legislation instead.’

    It is utterly disgraceful that a referendum could be held on this. And if the Irish Constitution requires a referendum on equal civil rights, then the constitution is a disgrace.

    1. Craig Nelson 14 Apr 2013, 11:16pm

      I guess it is for Ireland’s supreme court to determine what the constitution means. A more particular problem is the ‘woman’s place is in the home’ clause, which is part of envisioning marriage as heterosexual in nature (suggesting some constitutional change is required) [the State of Ireland was established at a time that Ireland was deeply Catholic and recognition of the Church played an important role in establishing independence from Britain]. I do agree that legislation is the better route but if it has to be a referendum as per the constitution then that us what has to happen and I think the referendum has a good chance of passing.

      Thus far the pro marriage equality campaign has run a very good campaign which reaches out to people and is well placed to morph into a referendum campaign if needed. A lot of good work has been put in and there is a lot of support from political parties (Labour, Greens, Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail support with some support within Fine Gail).

    2. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:31pm

      Try reading up on why the referendum is necessary. rRead my comments above….

  11. GingerlyColors 14 Apr 2013, 5:51pm

    It seems that quite a few of the correspondents here are happy to see a referendum on same-sex marriages in Ireland, especially as there appears to be strong public support for it there. Usually the consensus is that the ‘rights of a minority should not be subjected to a vote of the majority’.
    What ever political system we have in a country whether it is our Parliament with it’s unelected House of Lords, a dictatorship, proportional representation or a Swiss style direct democracy where several referendums are held every year on major issues, you will find that you cannot please everybody.
    With most of the main parties in Ireland from Fine Gael to Sinn Féin now supporting marriage equality there is no reason why it shouldn’t sail through the Dáil without the need for a referendum.

    1. Ireland had a divorce referendum in 1996.

      6 months before the referendum about 80% of the population supported the introduction of divorce.

      Thanks to the hideous campaign launched by the ‘No’ vote, in the end the support for divorce squeauked through by 50.1%

      There is absolutely no guarantee this vote will succeed.

      And if it fails Ireland is declaring itself a discriminatory state for at least another 20 years.

      1. That There Other David 14 Apr 2013, 6:43pm

        I’m not so sure. In 1996 the Catholic Church still had ultimate respect in the Republic. These days most Irish citizens believe it has far too much power over their country and are keen to clip the Bishops’ wings.

      2. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:37pm

        Ireland of 2013 is a very different place from what it was in 1996. The catholic cult is now on the run and is holding on by the skin of its teeth. They will not be mounting an anti equality on this matter and most of the reformed churches already have called for equality. Your constant stream of pessimism indicates that you, rather, would like it to fail. A little optimism wouldn’t go far astray from you ?

        1. What about other countries that aren’t as progressive as Ireland today? Basically, you are saying gays in those countries shouldn’t have equality as a human right but their status in society should be determined by people who might hate them.A

  12. What are the Irish police going to do to protect the LGBT community in Ireland from increased violence and bigotry that this referendum campaign will bring?

    1. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:43pm

      There has never at any time been much violence against the GLB community in Ireland and I should know I am 62 and live in a rural area and been loudly out and proud all my life. Indeed the opposite is true and most gay men are viewed as an asset and often approached for advice on subjects that doctors priests or lawyers would deal with in other countries…. There have been exception but they are so few as to be noteworthy like that of the vile Iris “the trollop” Robinson….

  13. I actually back a referendum. I believe that people will back it, and a democratic majority voting for SSM in a referendum is a strong symbol of renewed acceptance (by people and NOT only by politicians). A successful referendum will do more than any Parliament vote ever can for both allowing SSM and greater acceptance.

    1. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:46pm

      Hear, Hear!

    2. I disagree. In France the only ones baying for a referendum on gay marriage are the right-wing bigots. And, what about countries where a majority of the population isn’t in favour? Are you suggesting that no government in those countries can consider passing gay marriage? Are gays in those countries supposed to wait a few more years or decades until the majority of the population has “evolved” enough to agree to the democratic right of equality for all? South Africa would never have voted in favour of gay marriage in a referendum!

  14. Craig Nelson 14 Apr 2013, 11:26pm

    This is not a good comment. As for the reference to ‘papist’ this has often been a term of abuse used against Irish people and against Catholics by Protestants in the conflict in the North of Ireland. I’m not sure the ‘c’ word adds anything to debate. Many Catholics in a number of countries are supportive of marriage equality, though the hierarchy of the church are very inflexible on the matter.

  15. .....Paddyswurds 14 Apr 2013, 11:45pm

    You don’t know what you are blathering about ffs….Educate yourself before making such stupid statements. It is so not about minority rights but how the constitution is interpreted by the Law ie: judges.

    1. In which case, the referendum doesn’t have to be on gay marriage but on whether the constitution can be interpreted also to mean same-sex spouses.

  16. Long Overdue!

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