Ireland’s Iona Institute points out how the country’s Justice Minister is speaking with a forked tongue.
In the Irish parliament this week, the Institute says, Alan Shatter delivered a speech that inadvertently but comprehensively demonstrated the case against redefining marriage.
We have said all along that redefining marriage radically redefines parenthood, attacks the rights of children and attacks freedom of religion. Minister Shatter’s vision of the family as outlined in his Dail speech proves this.
He sees no special place in Irish law or social policy for motherhood or fatherhood or the natural ties.
He has no real understanding of the state of marriage in Ireland currently.
He has a very shrivelled view of religious freedom.
The words ‘mother’ or ‘father’ appear nowhere in his speech. He simply does not seem to believe that society has any special interest in encouraging men and women to raise their children together in loving unions.
There is no indication that he sees the sexual unions of men and women as being different in any socially significant way from any other kind of sexual union, or indeed from any other kind of emotional union, period.
He was very far from the mark when he said in his speech, “we are more deeply attached to marriage as a society than ever”.
It is true that more of us are married in absolute terms. But that is only because there are more of us anyway.
But our marriage rate is now lower than Britain’s, and Britain’s is the lowest it has ever been.
More than a third of births are outside marriage. Almost 250,000 Irish people are divorced or separated and our rate of cohabitation has soared.
If the Minister for Justice is unaware of these facts, or is prepared to ignore them, then that is deeply worrying. What, if anything, would compel him to say, we are no longer so attached to marriage?
On the matter of religious freedom, he told the Dail that he will ensure religious solemnisers of marriage don’t have to perform same-sex marriages. But the Constitution almost certainly forces him to do that in any case.
But what happens to marriage guidance counsellors, wedding planners, wedding stationers, florists, photographers? Must they all go along with the proposed redefinition of marriage or be driven out of the business? The answer appears to be yes.
So Minister Shatter’s speech shows just how high the stakes are in this debate and how vitally necessary it is that we play our part in it.
His speech in full can be read here.