Marriage or Matrimony, Religion or Civil


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I assume that people who are shouting down the NO side are frustrated and annoyed at the fact that their fellow citizens would cast a vote that effectively continues the marginalisation of our Brothers, Sisters. Aunts, Uncles, Mother and Fathers. What is being lost in this debate is the difference between civil marriage and holy matrimony. At no stage will the church have to perform holy matrimony for any same sex couple and that is their right. Therefore that piece of the argument is null and void. Civil marriage requires a constitutional change to give it absolute protection, if there were merely a change in law then that change could be reversed just as easily. The third point is the link between the family and how that fits with same sex couples, there is no simple answer here and this is where there is a great divide. The NO side who are predominantly faith based although not exclusively believe that the FAMILY is Father, Mother and Children, in effect that is a norm from which we are used to. Legally this interpretation is incorrect as in the constitution a cohabiting heterosexual couple with no children can be defined as a family, Article 41.3: “The State pledges to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.” nowhere though is Marriage defined, we could accept that it was clearly understood as opposite-sex when drafted in 1937 but original intent is not decisive.The failings of this current piece of constitution also marginalises other family forms, such as….a cohabiting heterosexual couple looking after the children of either or both parents,a cohabiting heterosexual couple either of whom is already married ,a cohabiting heterosexual couple either of whom is already married, whose children (all or some of them) are being looked after elsewhere ,unmarried or lone parents and their children and homosexual and lesbian couples. So back to the referendum the proposed amendment to Article 41 is the insertion of the line: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”, again this is a civil legal amendment and imposes no change on religious matrimony. All other facts of the debate in relation to children, surrogacy etc etc etc are just being used to confuse the issue.Surrogacy and other methods of assisted reproduction are being dealt with in other pieces of legislation and if battles need to be fought there then that is where people should direct their fight. I for one will vote YES to this referendum and look forward to attending the CIVIL marriage of some of my friends in the future gay or straight. Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.