Flying in the face of what still looks like a strong showing of public opinion in favour of the Irish Government’s proposal to get constitutional backing for same-sex marriage, another Irish Senator has declared herself as a ‘No’ voter. Her decision is based on what she describes as the false reasoning behind the proposal and the refusal of its adherents to recognise its implications for children’s rights and the good of the family as the natural unit of society.
In her statement, independent Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames – who was expelled from the main Government Party two years ago for her opposition to its legislation for abortion – declared her position she saying:
I am voting No in the Referendum after careful deliberation. The union of a man and woman is a unique union in marriage. It is the only union that can create children naturally. Giving every child an equal opportunity to a mother and a father is right and just and is worthy of the constitutional seal. This should not be changed by redefining marriage in the forthcoming Referendum. A union of two men or two women is different and will deny a child either a mother or a father.
Government ministers have claimed that this referendum has to do with equality only. This is untrue. We are being asked whether we want to amend Article 41, which deals with ‘The Family’. There is a separate Article in the Constitution – Article 40 – which deals with ‘Equality’, but it will not be affected in any way by the result of this referendum. It is ludicrous to insist that amending the specific article that deals with ‘The Family’ has nothing to do with children.
‘Yes’ Campaigners have been quick to claim that all concerns in relation to children have been dealt with by the Children and Family Relationships (CFR) Act. This is not true. The CFR Act contained some worthwhile provisions relating to children’s and fathers’ rights, but these were hopelessly combined with extremely complex issues like adoption and donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR) for gay couples. These were issues which should have been addressed separately and calmly, not rushed through in the course of an emotionally-charged referendum campaign.
Given that there are so many concerns about children, it is strange that the Government has ignored the position taken by countries like Portugal, where Same Sex Marriage has been passed into law but the preference remains for a child to have a mother and father. This would appear to be the best of both worlds and significantly more ‘in the best interests of the child’.
While the latest opinion polls still show a strong majority in favour of the ‘Yes’ vote, the ‘No’ campaign is confident that these will be as unreliable as polls which predicted same-sex marriage victories in Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia but which were turned into defeats when the electorates in those countries itself actually went to vote. The inaccuracy of polls prior to yesterday’s general election in Britain again showed that the only poll that counts is the secret ballot on the day itself. The agressive and intimidating tactics of the supporters of the Government measure in Ireland adds to doubts about the accuracy of polling. The illegal tearing down and defacement of ‘No’ posters and publicity material, the agressive picketing of meetings and other tactics is at a level not seen in Ireland in recent memory.