A people not fit for public purpose?

In the Irish referendum campaign the Yes side – in favour of same sex marriage – kept saying all it was about was a handful of words in the country’s constitution. The No side focused on what they feared would be the unintended consequences of what they saw as a radical redefinition of not only marriage but also of the family. The Yes side in turn accused them of scaremongering. It was ugly. No political debate in Ireland in living memory was so ugly and acrimonious.

But that is now history – or is it? If the No side was right, it is only beginning. Conor Brady, former editor of the Irish Times, the paper which was cheerleader  extraordinaire  for the Yes campaign from  start – several years ago – to finish, ominously reflected today in his Sunday Times column on what he saw over the past few months and the past week.
“A revolution”, he said, “without generosity, broadmindedness and a respect for the sweep of history will simply lay the foundations of a new tyranny”.

A friend has just told me of a conversation she had with someone who was speaking to a priest from the old Czechoslovakia and now working in Ireland. The priest says that the atmosphere and culture in Ireland at the moment is almost an exact replica of that in his country just before the Communist take-over. The main similarity he sees is the almost 100% indoctrination of the youth to the ideology. His view? Ireland must now prepare itself for a time of persecution.

The Canadian story about the same issue is worth looking at. What has followed that country’s legislation is a nightmare of bitterness and discrimination and the insertion into the public square of a cancerous growth of the marginalization of conscientious Christians – and people of other faiths as well. The new hostility to religion is not about driving people of faith into the arena to be eaten by wild beasts, but it is about confining them to the margins of society as people not fit for public purpose.

Professor Robert George of Princeton this morning flagged an article in Crisis magazine which it would behove us all to read. It is an account by Lea Z. Singh, a Canadian lawyer, writer and a stay-at-home mom to three young children, of the “unintended consequences” which have occurred in her country in the aftermath of their radical law-making.

Canada legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2005, she wrote, the fourth country in the world to do so. During the rushed public debate that preceded legalization, the Christian and traditional understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman had strong support. Polls showed a deep split among Canadians, and the majority (52 percent) were actually against legalization at the time that it occurred.

Opponents of same-sex “marriage” were given all kinds of assurances. The preamble to the Civil Marriage Act states that “everyone has the freedom of conscience and religion,” “nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs,” and “it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage.”

The Irish electorate was not even given this assurance.

But how quickly things change, she continues. Since the watershed moment of legalization, Canadian social norms have shifted rapidly, and what was once considered fringe or debatable has become the new normal.

Today, different opinions on “gender identity” and same-sex “marriage” are no longer tolerated. Our society is sweeping away respect for religious faiths that do not accept and celebrate same-sex “marriage,” and the Civil Marriage Act’s assurances seem merely farcical. It is not premature to speak of open discrimination against Christians in Canada.

The Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms declares that Canadians have a fundamental “freedom of conscience and religion” and “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” But constitutional guarantees are at the mercy of lawyers, and Canadian lawyers have emerged as among the most fiercely intolerant of anyone, including their own colleagues, who fails to support same-sex “marriage.” Read her full account here.

The spread of ideas is a fascinating subject – how they start, how they take root, how they spread, and the consequences which follow; sometimes good, sometimes indifferent and sometimes dire.

John Henry Newman offered a description of the process in his masterly Essay on the Development of Doctrine. What he says offers us a remarkable picture of what has been unfolding before our very eyes in Western culture over the past 50 years or so.

When an idea, he says, is of a nature to arrest and possess the mind, it may be said to have life, that is, to live in the mind which is its recipient. But, when some great enunciation, whether true or false, about human nature, or present good, or government, or duty, or religion, is carried forward into the public throng of men and draws attention, then… it becomes an active principle within them, leading them to an ever-new contemplation of itself, to an application of it in various directions, and a propagation of it on every side.

He cites as example such ideas as the doctrine of the divine right of kings, or of the rights of man, … or utilitarianism, or free trade, …or the philosophy of Zeno or Epicurus, doctrines which are of a nature to attract and influence.

Let one such idea get possession of the popular mind, or the mind of any portion of the community, and it is not difficult to understand what will be the result. At first men will not fully realize what it is that moves them, and will express and explain themselves inadequately. There will be a general agitation of thought, and an action of mind upon mind. There will be a time of confusion, when conceptions and misconceptions are in conflict, and it is uncertain whether anything is to come of the idea at all, or which view of it is to get the start of the others.

It will, he wrote, introduce itself into the framework and details of social life, changing public opinion, and strengthening or undermining the foundations of established order. Thus in time it will have grown into an ethical code, or into a system of government, or into a theology, or into a ritual, according to its capabilities.

Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, in the aftermath of the Irish referendum, described the event as “a reality check”. It was. The day before the referendum a great number of Irish people had made assumptions about the condition of their culture, about the ideas which carried weight within it. Two days later those assumptions were shattered. A radical idea – for many a terrible idea – about the nature of mankind, about gender, the nature of family and marriage had been working under cover for twenty, maybe thirty years. On the 23rd of May, 2015, Ireland awoke to find it in full flower.

But we must not forget that Newman’s words were written in the context of the ever-renewing process of refinement and development of the teaching of the Catholic Church. Those words hold fast to the promise that the truth of its teaching is strangely and marvellously rejuvenated from age to age. We should expect nothing less today.

Like rugby, only more triumphalist

gay-marriage-image

From Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator:

In more ways than one it’s impossible to be heard above the din right now in the wake of the Yes vote in Ireland on gay marriage. There’s a special noise that goes with an orgy of self-congratulation, a roar of mutual approbation, and it drowned everything else out in Dublin as the results came in today. Like rugby, only more triumphalist. Actually, I was watching the scene from the Sky studio in Millbank, where my interlocutor in central Dublin, Patrick Strudwick, a journalist and activist, was appearing on a screen on the streets and had to shout over the crowd to make himself heard, to repeat, over and over again, ‘It’s a victory for love, for equality, for human rights’.

Mind you he did go off piste sufficiently to declare that I was a bitter loser and a bigot (I was expressing concern that the family courts would be influenced by the vote when it came to decisions on the guardianship and custody of children). Oh and that this was a victory over the forces of the Catholic Church because no one would ever listen to them again on account of the cover ups of the clerical child abuse scandals. As a summary of the sentiments and subtlety of the Yes campaign it was, I’d say, bang on.

Read the rest of the article here.

Intimations of impending tragedies in a divided nation

Sitting in the studio audience for a TV debate on Ireland’s Marriage Referendum last night in Dublin I could not suppress the sense of a multiple tragedy unfolding before me which this primeval battle induced.

Whatever way this plays out on May 22, it seems that a nemesis awaits us.
If this foolish and careless Government succeeds it will not kill the reality that is marriage. The reality that the word marriage gives institutional form to, that is, the coming together in conjugal union of man and woman, is beyond the manipulative control of governments. They can mess with the word which describes it as much as they like but as long as men and women exit, it will exist.

But this messing by governments with those things that nature designed does have consequences for human beings and their life in society. In this case, the Irish Government will become responsible for the clouding in people’s minds of what marriage really is. This in turn will have consequences for generations to come. This will be the first tragedy.

If the Irish Government drains the word marriage of its true meaning, its essential identity, by describing it as a bond between people regardless of their sex, homosexuals and heterosexuals will suffer equally and the victory which some homosexuals feel they will have won will prove to be, and will be seen to be, as hollow as the arguments now being advanced for it.

For those who understand that the essence of a thing remains the same no matter what we call it, marriage will remain what it is and always was – a lifelong bond between a man and a woman, open, where nature allows, to the begetting of future generations. “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” For those who think that they have changed the thing because they have changed the name – or turned one thing into another by using the other’s name – there is the tragedy of delusion. This is the second tragedy.

This was the tragedy averted by Solomon who in his wisdom was able to resolve the folly of the woman who sought to relieve her pain of loss by dividing in two the child of her companion. But Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is no Solomon. He has succumbed to the foolish thinking of a militant group of culture warriors who have led the gay community astray into thinking that access to marriage is just a matter of manipulating language.

If the Irish Government wins this referendum everyone will wake up on the May 24 and find that nature has preserved this thing called marriage. But they will also find that in the futile attempt to meddle with nature they will have a meaningless human artefact posturing as “marriage” in their nation’s Constitution. This sham thing will be bringing with it a myriad of muddy legal complications. Bad laws impact on human lives, some with tragic consequences. There will be numerous personal tragedies as “motherless” and “fatherless” children search for their natural progenitors to try to rescue them from the limbo of those quotation marks. Some will succeed, more will never do so. This is the third tragedy.

And if this chaos is avoided and a “No” victory results, what nemesis awaits us? This will be the nemesis for a bitterly disappointed community which has been misled into thinking that this manipulation of language, spun by a Government which has in turn been manipulated by an international ideological movement backed by millions of dollars – scandalously ignored by a biased national media, – was going to bring it to a haven of happiness and contentment.

The utterly bewildering illusion being fed to people that this is a struggle for equality has been spun so effectively that the consequences of its inevitable evaporation will be tragic. A Government complicit in this charade is a truly bad Government. It is now compounding this crime by declaring that a rejection of their proposal – a proposal which declares that two things which are different from each other are in fact the same – will amount to a disdainful rejection of some of their fellow human beings by the majority of the electorate.

The gay community – as it is called, and isn’t there something wrong with the very idea of segregating people into communities on the basis of their sexuality? – has been deceived into thinking that redefining marriage is a solution to the difficulties they experienced in human societies in the past or present. They have been deceived into thinking that it will in some way compensate for wrongs done to them. It will not and it never do so, because it is a meaningless act. This deceit is just one more tragedy.

The final tragedy has already taken place. When we should be concentrating our efforts on the task – always necessary – of building up the cultivation of real civilizing values in our community we are distracted and divided by this unreal conflict. True equality should be our goal, true values of fraternity and justice should be our objective and not this false synthetic concoction of something that can never really exist.

This horrible and divisive battle, which ideologues have forced on a good-humoured and generally kind-hearted nation, may be leading it into a new – even if as yet low-level – era of civil strife. After last night’s debate, one member of the audience on the “Yes” side came over to the speaker for the “No” side and uttered with uncivil vehemence words of bitter reproach for what he had presented to all, in good faith, for consideration. The producers of the programme – which was rchesrated with exemplary skill and fairness by presenter Claire Byrne and her team, – in a departure from normal procedure before these debates, separated the “Yes” and “No” supporters into separate rooms. “No” participants wondered why, and in fact regretted the segregation and the loss of the chance to mix and share views. But it was a sign of the times.

Overcooking the “Equality” cake?

Ireland is now in the second last week of its liberal establishment’s tiresome campaign to get the country to radically change its understanding of marriage as an institution naturally fitted to the conjugal relationship between a man and a woman. All the opinion polls are still pointing to a triumph for them. But there are warnings of hubris. This morning’ mass-circulation Sunday Independent carries that warning in a no-holds-barred column by one of the country’s more open-minded journalists and TV hosts, Brendan O’Connor.

The Yes campaign, he muses, must be very nervous looking at what just happened in the UK. Everybody knew what the result in the UK election was going to be. Every poll was in agreement. Neck and neck. Hung parliament. Weeks of manoeuvring to try and create a Government. Everybody agreed. And, as usual, when everyone agrees so wholeheartedly on something, they were all wrong. The media was wrong, the polls were wrong; the whole establishment got it wrong.

The Yes side must be wondering this weekend if the same could be true here. What if the polls are wrong? What if the media is wrong? What if the whole political establishment has got this one wrong? On Friday morning, Antony Worrall Thomson, of all people, pointed out that a lot of Tory voters are his age and they tend not to admit their intentions in advance, saving the truth instead for the privacy of the ballot box. And lets face it, being a No voter in this country is even more shameful that being a Tory in the UK. So the likelihood is a lot more people are lying about their voting intentions in the upcoming referendum. And who could blame them?

O’Connor goes on to catalogue what might at first have looked like winning strokes by the Yes campaign – Twitter et al calling for a Yes vote, massive media support, 100% party political approval – but which reflection might suggest could turn out to be a poisonous concoction. He also mentions the abusive treatment of the opposite side but does not talk about public revulsion at the denial of freedom of expression which their tearing down of No posters is provoking

A friend of mine visited his barber yesterday. The barber told him that he had a few young people in with him earlier, potentially Yes voters, who spoke of their disgust at such hostile, negative and undemocratic tactics.

The thing about Irish people, O’Connor says, is that they don’t like being told what to think. They don’t like being told what to think by the media. They don’t like being told what to think by politicians. And they certainly don’t like being told what to think by the bosses of tech companies. It’s the kind of thing that is bound to get people’s backs up.

The No campaigners can only hope that the Yes campaigners do not read O’Connor’s warning and change their tactics to a more democratic one. Keep the own goals coming and they will be more than happy.

O’Connor’s full article can be read here.

A modern Burke speaks to power in defence of reason and good government

Edmund Burke, champion of modern democracy, gracing the front lawn of Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated.

Bruce Arnold’s astounding open letter to Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Enda Kenny, should find him a place in the pantheon of political thinkers alongside Edmund Burke, Abraham Lincoln, Cicero and just a handful of others.

This letter, a call to prudence and wisdom to a straying political establishment is heroic, practical and much deeper in its implications than it might at first seem.

Edmund Burke, an Irishman in England’s 18th century House of Commons, twice called on his fellow parliamentarians to come to their senses. Firstly he did so over their folly in their treatment of the American colonists. Secondly he warned them of the bloody consequences which he saw flowing from the rash political excesses of their French contemporaries in 1789.

In the one, his call for conciliation with the British settlers in America, he failed to win their support and both England and the thirteen colonies paid the price in a bloody war. In the other he was more successful and his countrymen set their faces against the excesses of the French and braced themselves for the eventual and finally victorious struggle with the megalomaniac who sought to straddle the world.

Arnold is an Englishman, a journalist and writer, who has made his home in Ireland and, while not a parliamentarian, is playing a crucial role as one of the leading voices of the only political opposition Ireland’s parliament has today.

Ireland’s Dáil now bears all the hallmarks of a one-party state. Recently it rushed through an important and radical piece of legislation on Children and Family Relationships. While this enactment contained some important reforms it was, however, riddled with provisions which many felt were inimical to children and the family. It was initially envisaged that it would make provision for surrogacy as a legitimate way for same-sex couples to beget children. This was withdrawn for strategic reasons and will now be proposed in separate legislation. Other elements were questioned but, despite some efforts by independent parliamentarians to propose amendments, the Party machines on all sides of the parliament, Government and non-Government, pushed the Bill into law.

Simultaneously – and not coincidentally, for the latter was part of strategic plot to help win the other – it rushed through legislation for a referendum on same-sex marriage. It was so rushed in fact that they did not even take time to get the Irish language – the “first” official language of the State – wording of the measure to synch with the English. They had to correct this to avoid what would have been a very embarrassing legal quagmire.

Arnold’s open letter – ostensibly to the Taoiseach but it should in fact be taken to heart by 90% of the Irish parliament who have sheepishly followed his lead on these things – deals with the detail of what is proposed to the electorate as a change to their constitution. It reveals the devastating superficiality of what is passing for government in the Irish Republic today and which is exemplified in this current political action.

This journalist, in the role now of a true tribune of the people, is calling on Ireland’s political class to come to its senses and to start thinking seriously again. His call has worrying resonances, touching on much more than one single issue. His questioning of the political wisdom of this small country’s parliament casts doubt over its competence to deal with everything that it touches. The context of Arnold’s remarks is the current issue of this referendum. The broader issue which it exposes is that of quality of governance – which is why we can call the letter “astounding”. That this should be so on the eve of Ireland’s centenary celebrations of its achieving independence as a nation is truly disheartening.

Ireland gave the gift of Edmund Burke to England in the 18th century, and to parliamentary democracy across the world. He is now recognised as the father of a political philosophy which puts common sense, the value of the common good and an inherent but open-minded respect for society’s good traditions, over fanatical ideology. Perhaps England has now returned the compliment by giving Ireland a voice which loudly and clearly speaks to power on behalf of a people whose parliament is now attempting to foolishly destroy an institution which has served it beneficially from time immemorial and replace it with an empty and meaningless shell, genderless marriage, which will serve no one’s real interest.

Arnold first wrote to Kenny on this issue of the referendum in February last. That was  a more formal approach, raising the constitutional, social and moral questions that are actively bothering about 25 percent of the electorate – a percentage increasing as the campaign continues towards it finale on May 22. Most people now concede that the result of this ballot will be much closer than the opinion polls suggest.

This letter, Arnold begins, is more familiar and personal than the previous one for reasons that will soon become apparent.

We have known each other for the whole of your political career, having first met after you succeeded your father in the by-election that resulted from his death. Henry Kenny was a friend of mine during his two short years as a parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Finance, Richie Ryan. These were my first two years as a journalist working in the Dail. It is probable I met you at that time as well. With ups and downs, inevitable in the relationship between politicians and the journalists who record their lives, I have always had an admiration for your calm style, in opposition and in power, and for a quality I have admired in you, the likeable human appeal that I think of when I think about the career of another politician I have always greatly admired, Jack Lynch. He had the common touch as you have, an ability to be naturally relaxed and friendly.

Perhaps the most important challenge you faced in your political career was the last general election. Fianna Fail had made an undoubted mess of their time in office, tolerating excessive spending, wildly uncontrolled property development and a political dishonesty that was deeply damaging to this country.

I supported your candidature and your courage in putting a quality back into the search for power and a set of principles, not always effective, but good enough to support in the contest during that election. You had the good grace to recognise and acknowledge my consistent support for your campaign and I have no hesitation in saying now that I did it for good and reasoned endorsement of those principles for which you stood.

I have to confess that much of this support and sympathy has been undermined by the inept and already damaging impact of your handling of the Marriage Referendum. If the referendum is carried, I see this as irreparably damaging to moral life in this country, to married life and the future of the family, and leading to the encroachment of wildly inappropriate approaches to the birth and development of children. It runs the risk of splitting the country irreparably.

I have shown recently (through the document I circulated on Wednesday about international developments in the area of same-sex marriage) how totally out of step with the rest of the world Ireland has become in pursuing an unwanted and unjustified constitutional amendment. It is being pushed through in a political atmosphere of almost total ignorance and hysteria. If the referendum is carried, Ireland will be the only jurisdiction in the world providing explicitly for same-sex marriage in its Constitution. It will become the flag bearer for same-sex marriage and gender ideology internationally.

This week, in a pithy and courageous call to the people, Brendan Howlin used a phrase about an aspect of the economy that resonated immediately with me. He called for “the full ventilation of the full truth”. In the marriage referendum the opposite has been the case. In your article in the Irish Independent on April 27th, for example, you repeat the blatant untruth that underlies your whole approach (“… importantly, marriage equality will not in any way affect the institution of marriage. It will only extend equal legal protections to all couples.”). How then could the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court also say on April 27th, to proponents of gay marriage: “you’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship?”

Do you, Enda, take us all for fools? The dogs in the street know that marriage will change radically. What is now a natural institution that predates the Constitution and is protected by it, will become an artificial creation of the Constitution and be defined by it.

An approach of almost unprecedented ignorance is being purveyed and blindly supported. Talk of love and equality is no substitute for reasoned analysis of the consequences. Huge sums of money from outside the state have been employed, contrary to firm expenditure principles in most other political campaigns. Ministers are hailing the Yes Vote while at the same time refusing to say why and how it is appropriate. They are not answering any of the questions being put to them. Largely this is because they do not know the answers.

You are leading a campaign in a prejudicial and one-sided way that has all the faults of previous referendums, faults that led on several occasions to successful challenges by private citizens. The purpose of a referendum is to allow the Irish people to legislate directly on whether to amend their Constitution or not. Such acts of direct legislation should take place without voters feeling pressurised and intimidated by the Government of the day into voting in a particular way, with all members of that Government favouring a particular outcome, and certain organs of the State being allowed or even encouraged to act in a one-sided way also.

The Gardai have been engaged, quite inappropriately, on the side of the Yes Vote. Their permitting of voter registration sites in universities, enrolling young people, to be used as posts to distribute Yes campaign materials and literature and to be decked with Yes campaign posters and murals, is a denial of their pledge to uphold the Constitution. Young and innocent people are being deliberately misled. The older generations are bewildered by the mood of near-hysteria that prevails in the country.

The criticism of the Gardaí by Nuala O’Loan was devastating. Yet Minister Fitzgerald has taken no effective action as she should have done. She has tolerated silently this putting of the legality of the referendum process at risk. How would you like to stand in an election in which the supervision of the integrity of the ballot, the collection of votes and the transfer of boxes were all entrusted to Sinn Féin with that party supervising registration? That is what it looks like when the Gardaí take sides in a referendum. Have no doubt that the Supreme Court would deem this to be a grave misconduct. You and the members of your Government have been silent about it.

I gave you a copy of a Private Study Paper on Same Sex Marriage in the Irish Constitution with my letter of 25th February. (It is referred to as a private study paper as it was prepared by private citizens who have done work the State should have done.) You replied to me saying that you would read the study paper. I acknowledge that you heeded my call to rectify the crass error in the Irish text of amendment, but I have not heard from you since.

You have instead chosen to deal with an issue that is exceptionally complex, both legally and morally, and which has implications for family law that are at the borders of medical technology and that stretch ethics to their very limits, and indeed beyond, in a trivial manner through a one-page referendum Bill, a single line in the Constitution and a threadbare draft Marriage Bill.

That is no way for a developed state to behave. It is also entirely contrary to the intent and spirit of the huge reform work undertaken by the Constitutional Review Group led by Ken Whitaker. I cannot understand why you have chosen to approach same-sex marriage in such a reckless and ill-thought out manner, a manner that would result in referendum after referendum to try to correct the results of a “yes” vote and which will make us the laughing stock internationally.

It has now also come to my attention that the Marriage Referendum, if carried, will serve to subvert directly the first of the Irish (Treaty of Lisbon) Protocols in relation to Article 41 (The Family) and Article 42 (Education). As Leader of the Opposition, you witnessed the defeat of the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in June, 2008 and it being subsequently carried in a second referendum in 2009, once certain protocols for Ireland were secured. These protocols became legally binding when, appended to the Croatian Accession Treaty, it became law on December 1st, 2014.

It really is bewildering for me to see that once we adopt a protocol to protect the integrity of Article 41 and Article 42 of the our Constitution from being overridden by European law and the new wave of European genderless ideology, which utterly and falsely denies the differences between men and women, we then proceed within six months thereafter to try to change, radically and irreparably, our national understanding that marriage is based on gender difference. Thereafter, we will insist that the falsehood of genderless ideology be taught to our children in schools.

Young children and young adults will become increasingly confused, when as boys and girls, young men and young women, they are told that there is no difference between the male and the female. If this Referendum is carried our young people will be told in schools that marriage, which is based on the dignity of the difference between a man and a woman, has no regard to this difference. Can you not see how the false genderless ideology will underpin all of this in a way that leads to confusion? Great confusion will be done to our young people in realising their true identities and their God-given potential?

While certain countries in Europe are being seduced by a false gender ideology, which denies the differences between men and women, we have a clear defence against this falsehood with the first of the Irish (Treaty of Lisbon) Protocols. You worked hard for these protocols yet your Government are now trying to abolish their protection. More significantly, ministers are telling the Irish people nothing about this. Can you not see how wrong this is? Has no adviser explained that the first of the protocols, which were necessary to secure the carrying of the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, will be destroyed if this referendum is carried?

In fairness to you, one cannot expect that you will have heard this from our Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. This body is meant to advise all of us independently upon how our human and constitutional rights are being affected. Since leading representatives of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network shape its policy statements, there is no surprise there.

In the light of all that has happened and of our long relationship, I would deeply appreciate answers from you to the following questions:

  1. Did the Ministers for Justice and Equality or Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Attorney General inform the Government of the Irish (Treaty of Lisbon) Protocols when considering the Marriage Referendum Proposal? Was there any discussion about the first protocol (in so far as it protects Articles 41 and 42) being totally undermined by the Marriage Referendum proposal?
  2. When Article 41.3.1 of the Constitution provides that the State pledges to protect the institution of Marriage upon which the Family is founded from attack, what does this really mean for a marriage of two men? Does it not mean that they will have a constitutional right to donor assisted human reproduction and surrogacy to “found” their family? Must not all legislative restrictions on these practices be subject to this new and radical constitutional right?
  3. Did the Minister for Education and Skills inform the Government of the potential effect on the education system of

placing same-sex marriage on the same level as heterosexual marriage for the future of primary and secondary education in our country in terms of what will be taught to children and young adults about gender, sexual orientation and sexual practices?

  1. Has the Minister for Justice and Equality informed the Government of her view of the involvement of the Gardai on

the “yes” side of the referendum campaign?

  1. Have you not considered the inappropriate and unwarranted statements made by state employees on behalf of their organisations, pledging a support they should be unable to offer?

We need answers. Remembering your father and what he stood for, I need answers.

I do not doubt that you and the Government have done enormous damage to any fair, balanced and EQUAL handling of this Marriage Referendum. I think that you should put a stop immediately by qualifying your position and that of the Government and indicating that you at least are reconsidering your own vote on 22 May, and that you are doing this in light of the many unforeseen, unintended and unconsidered consequences of this referendum that have been brought to your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Bruce Arnold

Will debate-shy Kenny respond meaningfully to this wise and democratic cri de coeur? Kenny has made prepared speeches on the issue. He has yet to engage in public debate on the matter – despite multiple invitations to do so. Will he even give a meaningful reply to this letter? We are, wisely, not going to hold our breath.

An Orwellian future for Ireland too?

If it happened there, why do we think it will not happen in Ireland as well? What happened?

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. The debate over same-sex marriage that is taking place in the United States could not legally exist there today. Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government. That country is Canada.

Canada used to be one of the most democratic countries in the world, and one of the countries which was regularly ranked as one of the best countries in the world in which to live. Is it so anymore? Canada is now one of the countries in the world which is leading the charge to the totalitarianism of political correctness, which is threatening the treasured values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the rights and duties of parents to raise and educate their children. Communist ideology in the heyday of its practical application will be very much in the historic shade if democratic countries fail to stop this new totalitarian juggernaut.

Dawn Stefanowicz is an internationally recognized speaker and author. She is a member of the Testimonial Committee of the International Children’s Rights Institute. In a recent essay, posted on the website of the Princeton-based Witherspoon Institute, she gives a chilling picture of not just where Canada is headed but of where it has already arrived.

I am one of six adult children of gay parents who recently filed amicus briefs with the US Supreme Court, asking the Court to respect the authority of citizens to keep the original definition of marriage: a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, so that children may know and may be raised by their biological parents. I also live in Canada, where same-sex marriage was federally mandated in 2005.

I am the daughter of a gay father who died of AIDS. I described my experiences in my book: Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting. Over fifty adult children who were raised by LGBT parents have communicated with me and share my concerns about same-sex marriage and parenting. Many of us struggle with our own sexuality and sense of gender because of the influences in our household environments growing up.

We have great compassion for people who struggle with their sexuality and gender identity—not animosity. And we love our parents. Yet, when we go public with our stories, we often face ostracism, silencing, and threats.

I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the US Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. The consequences have played out in Canada for ten years now, and they are truly Orwellian in nature and scope.

Canada’s Lessons

In Canada, freedoms of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. The debate over same-sex marriage that is taking place in the United States could not legally exist in Canada today. Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government.

Why do police prosecute speech under the guise of eliminating “hate speech” when there are existing legal remedies and criminal protections against slander, defamation, threats, and assault that equally apply to all Americans? Hate-crime-like policies using the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” create unequal protections in law, whereby protected groups receive more legal protection than other groups.

Having witnessed how mob hysteria in Indiana caused the legislature to back-track on a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, many Americans are beginning to understand that some activists on the Left want to usher in state control over every institution and freedom. In this scheme, personal autonomy and freedom of expression become nothing more than pipe dreams, and children become commodified.

Children are not commodities that can be justifiably severed from their natural parentage and traded between unrelated adults. Children in same-sex households will often deny their grief and pretend they don’t miss a biological parent, feeling pressured to speak positively due to the politics surrounding LGBT households. However, when children lose either of their biological parents because of death, divorce, adoption, or artificial reproductive technology, they experience a painful void. It is the same for us when our gay parent brings his or her same-sex partner(s) into our lives. Their partner(s) can never replace our missing biological parent.

The State as Ultimate Arbiter of Parenthood

Over and over, we are told that “permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.” That is a lie.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005, parenting was immediately redefined. Canada’s gay marriage law, Bill C-38, included a provision to erase the term “natural parent” and replace it across the board with gender-neutral “legal parent” in federal law. Now all children only have “legal parents,” as defined by the state. By legally erasing biological parenthood in this way, the state ignores children’s foremost right: their immutable, intrinsic yearning to know and be raised by their own biological parents.

Mothers and fathers bring unique and complementary gifts to their children. Contrary to the logic of same-sex marriage, the gender of parents matters for the healthy development of children. We know, for example, that the majority of incarcerated men did not have their fathers in the home. Fathers by their nature secure identity, instill direction, provide discipline, boundaries, and risk-taking adventures, and set lifelong examples for children. But fathers cannot nurture children in the womb or give birth to and breast-feed babies. Mothers nurture children in unique and beneficial ways that cannot be duplicated by fathers.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that men and women are anatomically, biologically, physiologically, psychologically, hormonally, and neurologically different from each other. These unique differences provide lifelong benefits to children that cannot be duplicated by same-gender “legal” parents acting out different gender roles or attempting to substitute for the missing male or female role model in the home.

In effect, same-sex marriage not only deprives children of their own rights to natural parentage, it gives the state the power to override the autonomy of biological parents, which means parental rights are usurped by the government.

Hate Tribunals Are Coming

In Canada, it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training.

Anyone who is offended by something you have said or written can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals. In Canada, these organizations police speech, penalizing citizens for any expression deemed in opposition to particular sexual behaviors or protected groups identified under “sexual orientation.” It takes only one complaint against a person to be brought before the tribunal, costing the defendant tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The commissions have the power to enter private residences and remove all items pertinent to their investigations, checking for hate speech.

The plaintiff making the complaint has his legal fees completely paid for by the government. Not so the defendant. Even if the defendant is found innocent, he cannot recover his legal costs. If he is found guilty, he must pay fines to the person(s) who brought forth the complaint.

If your beliefs, values, and political opinions are different from the state’s, you risk losing your professional license, job, or business, and even your children. Look no further than the Lev Tahor Sect, an Orthodox Jewish sect. Many members, who had been involved in a bitter custody battle with child protection services, began leaving Chatham, Ontario, for Guatemala in March 2014, to escape prosecution for their religious faith, which conflicted with the Province’s guidelines for religious education. Of the two hundred sect members, only half a dozen families remain in Chatham.

Parents can expect state interference when it comes to moral values, parenting, and education—and not just in school. The state has access into your home to supervise you as the parent, to judge your suitability. And if the state doesn’t like what you are teaching your children, the state will attempt to remove them from your home.

Teachers cannot make comments in their social networks, write letters to editors, publicly debate, or vote according to their own conscience on their own time. They can be disciplined or lose any chance of tenure. They can be required at a bureaucrat’s whim to take re-education classes or sensitivity training, or be fired for thinking politically incorrect thoughts.

When same-sex marriage was created in Canada, gender-neutral language became legally mandated. Newspeak proclaims that it is discriminatory to assume a human being is male or female, or heterosexual. So, to be inclusive, special non-gender-specific language is being used in media, government, workplaces, and especially schools to avoid appearing ignorant, homophobic, or discriminatory. A special curriculum is being used in many schools to teach students how to use proper gender-neutral language. Unbeknownst to many parents, use of gender terms to describe husband and wife, father and mother, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and “he” and “she” is being steadily eradicated in Canadian schools.

Which Is More Important: Sexual Autonomy or the First Amendment?

Recently, an American professor who was anonymously interviewed for the American Conservative questioned whether sexual autonomy is going to cost you your freedoms: “We are now at the point, he said, at which it is legitimate to ask if sexual autonomy is more important than the First Amendment?”

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian citizens were supposed to have been guaranteed: (1) freedom of conscience and religion; (2) freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (3) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (4) freedom of association. In reality, all of these freedoms have been curtailed with the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Wedding planners, rental halls, bed and breakfast owners, florists, photographers, and bakers have already seen their freedoms eroded, conscience rights ignored, and religious freedoms trampled in Canada. But this is not just about the wedding industry. Anybody who owns a business may not legally permit his or her conscience to inform business practices or decisions if those decisions are not in line with the tribunals’ decisions and the government’s sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination laws. In the end, this means that the state basically dictates whether and how citizens may express themselves.

Freedom to assemble and speak freely about man-woman marriage, family, and sexuality is now restricted. Most faith communities have become “politically correct” to avoid fines and loss of charitable status. Canadian media are restricted by the Canadian Radio, Television, and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is similar to the FCC. If the media air anything considered discriminatory, broadcasting licenses can be revoked, and “human rights bodies” can charge fines and restrict future airings.

An example of legally curtailed speech regarding homosexuality in Canada involves the case of Bill Whatcott, who was arrested for hate speech in April 2014 after distributing pamphlets that were critical of homosexuality. Whether or not you agree with what he says, you should be aghast at this state-sanctioned gagging. Books, DVDs, and other materials can also be confiscated at the Canadian border if the materials are deemed “hateful.”

Americans need to prepare for the same sort of surveillance-society in America if the Supreme Court rules to ban marriage as a male-female institution. It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience. Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

Dawn Stefanowicz’s book, Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, is available at http://www.dawnstefanowicz.org. Dawn, a full-time licensed accountant, is married and has two teenaged children.


Mozilla, Mozilla, what DO you stand for?

Some words of Pope Francis on Christian tolerance for Muslims receive a loud echo in a Fraser Nelson piece in today’s Daily Telegraph (London). Meanwhile across the Atlantic a newer kind of jihad takes off yet another head. Some weeks ago the defenders of the gay lobby mocked Ross Douthat of the New York Times when he expressed the controversial view that the gay marriage campaign seemed to be heading for certain victory and that no quarter was going to be given to those who opposed it. The news today seems to bear him out on at least the question of the campaign’s intention.

Nelson takes some pride in what he sees as the remarkable and admirable way in which – in spite of some horrific provocation – Britain has assimilated its imperial legacy of a significant Muslim population. It is a two-way street and the majority of the Muslim minority in the UK cohabits agreeably alongside a majority population whose way of life is still rooted in Christian values.

Would that another very militant minority were as accommodating to the Christian values of the majority with whom they live side by side.

The gay jihadis in the United States have now chopped off the head of Mozilla-Firefox with their creeping and creepy war on Christians and the Christian conscience. For them it’s “no peace, no quarter” for the adherents of a 2000 year-old religion who dare to hold by a belief that marriage should remain what they understand it to be, and the nature and purpose of human sexuality and the institution of the family requires it to be.

The Pope, in his exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, has asked all Catholics to embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to their countries in the same way that Christians hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. He entreated those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries. Clearly work remains to be done in this area, but movement is in the right direction.

Christians and Muslims are deeply divided on matters of faith and the practice of their respective creeds. Yet the leaders in the mainstream of both faiths in the West have found a way to tolerance and respect for the freedom of conscience of each other’s followers.  No such tolerance is being offered by the gay jihadis who now have all the appearances of becoming one of the more sinister enemies of democracy in our world today.

In 2008, Brendan Eich gave money to oppose the legalisation of gay marriage in California, a mere $1,000. In a truly democratic world this should be no problem. Let the people decide. Let those of opposing views on the matter openly help along the argument which they feel carries the greater weight. This democratic right is outrageously denied by the gay jihad. “You will be punished in whatever way we feel you can be punished if you oppose us”, is their banner.

The Pope went on to exhort Christians to show a spirit of tolerance to Muslims, even in the face of violent opposition. Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, he said, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence. Elsewhere and unambiguously he has asked Christians to show the same spirit towards homosexual people.

Christians faced with persecution – and the treatment of Brendan Eich is nothing short of persecution – from gay activists across the Western world have the same spirit demanded of them. They will be as good as their word and seek to live by this spirit. But they cannot and will not ignore the voice of their conscience and accept a false understanding of human sexuality no matter how many governments, corporations and pressure groups seek to make them do so.

The Christian faith is not homophobic. It is against its deepest principles to hate or denigrate any human being. But it holds, and has held for thousands of years, as its Judaic sources have held, a belief and a reasoned view of what it is to be human – in all its dimensions. The late 20th century change to that “narrative” is a long way from offering any serious reasonable basis for a radical rejection of that position which is still accepted by the vast majority of human-kind. It is this that makes what is now going on, exemplified by the hounding out of his job of a gifted genius, so outrageous, even frightening. The echoes of the worst kind of totalitarianism known to the last century are unmistakable.

Fraser Nelson rejects the notion that there is a clash of civilizations on British soil today. What he says of Britain might also be said of Ireland.

Those who believe in a clash of civilisations, in which British values are pitted against those of the Muslim world, have not been short of examples in the past few days. The BBC reports on an “Islamic takeover plot” by hardliners to seize control of several Birmingham state schools. Two Morrisons workers are suing the supermarket for not being able to take holiday during Ramadan, after being told that they submitted their applications too late. Such stories do make the blood boil, and may lead the less charitable to ask if such people should move to a country that better reflects their prejudices.

But one hears such complaints rarely, and this is what marks us out in a Europe that is paranoid about Islam and identity. Britain is, through empire, the original multi-ethnic state. When Churchill was writing for The Daily Telegraph as a war correspondent, his criticism of the Afghan tribesmen was that their behaviour was un-Islamic. Then, the Queen had tens of millions of Islamic subjects and her ministers boasted of running the greatest Muslim power on earth.

The integration of Muslims can now be seen as one of the great success stories of modern Britain. While the Dutch and the French have huge troubles with integration, and are caught in agonised struggles about their national identities, Britain is marked out by the trouble that we are not having. Dig a little deeper, and the real story is the striking amount of harmony.

But where there is no sign of harmony is in the relentless campaign of a militant minority of homosexual people and their allies from the anti-Christian “liberal” establishment who want to expunge from Western society some of the most fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith about what it is to be human and how men and women should give expression to their sexual identities in a way that is moral.

The Elephant At the Polling Station

There’s no question about it. There’s an elephant in the room and there is a massive conspiracy of silence to say nothing about it among in the mainstream Irish media covering the general election set to take place there on February 25. But hell hath no fury like an animal such as this when roused to anger by being ignored. Some are just now beginning to prod this one into action.

Admittedly Ireland’s continuing struggles to escape the clutches of the biggest recession, probably in its history, preoccupies both the electorate and the politicians in this campaign. But other issues are also at stake and these are the one the politicians are furtively seeking to avoid. Proposals to legislate for abortion, for gay marriage and limiting choice of schools to parents are all there in the small print. Like small print everywhere the hope of the printer is that it might not be read. On these issues it is Ireland’s own version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The first mainstream flagging of the abortion issue came last week in David Quinn’s weekly column in Ireland’s biggest broadsheet, the Irish Independent.  www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/david-quinn-any-vote-for-the-labour-party-is-a-vote-for-abortion-2535719.html . He spelt out the reality confronting the Irish electorate on these issues and effectively asked them to wake up to it.

These questions have become important because the final composition of the Irish parliament will most likely leave the two centre right parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael) without overall majorities. They will then have to look for government partners among the left-liberal groupings, Labour and the Greens. The polls currently suggest that the new Irish government will be formed from a coalition of Fine Gael and Labour. It is the familiar story of the tail getting to the position where it can wag the dog on social policy while the centre right gets on with the economic business. That is what happened in the outgoing parliament where the liberal Greens got their pound of flesh in the form of civil partnership legislation for homosexuals. For all those who campaigned on this issue, this was only a half-way house. The same groupings are now going all out for full gay-marriage legislation. That is no surprise, nor would it be seen as much of a threat by those opposed to these changes if these groupings were not in danger of getting an influence in the new parliament far beyond what their actual electoral support would warrant.

Quinn put his finger on the heart of the problem in his column when he pointed to the failure of the electorate to waken up to this danger. As he sees it – from his reading of the traditional sector of the electorate “a lot of them haven’t the first clue about Labour’s position on abortion. Amazing, but true. They don’t know, for example, that Labour wants to legislate for (a court) ruling of 1992. That ruling allows for abortion, and furthermore, it permits abortion simply on the say-so of a medical practitioner – it doesn’t have to be a doctor or psychiatrist – who is willing to say that his or her patient is suicidal.

In addition, Eamon Gilmore (Labour Party leader) favours abortion where the ‘health’ of the mother is in danger. In practice, this would replicate in Ireland the British abortion law. In Britain, abortion is permitted where a woman’s life or health is at risk. Health includes mental health. In practice, this translates into abortion-on-demand.

Gilmore favours this policy despite the fact that Ireland is the safest place in the world for a woman to have a baby, according to World Health Organisation figures.

And from a Catholic and Christian point of view, it is not only Labour’s stance on abortion that is problematic. It favours same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. Its attitude towards denominational schools is also a problem.”

Quinn then deals with what he sees as the failure of the sector of the electorate for which traditional values on these issues are important.  He sees two categories of error being made by some of those who might be thinking of voting for Labour. The first category of are those who just don’t know the party’s position on abortion; the second category  somehow manages to rationalise away the Labour position, to say that it doesn’t matter, or that there are more important issues to be considered. Some, he finds, seem to think Labour doesn’t really mean it. “Sorry, it does. If it gets a chance – and that will be up to Fine Gael – we will have abortion in this country.”

 

The response to Quinn’s column seemed to bear out his point – so far. There were just three letters in the paper the following day and the politicians in the two main parties themselves studiously avoided the issue. I say “so far” because there are some signs that the Labour Party is now coming out more clearly on these issues. If it does so it may force the electorate – or the sizeable sector of it which, if awake, would be concerned about these matters to ask the main parties’ prospective members of parliament where they stand. They might then ask them fair and square whether, if in power with Labour, will they give their backing to health social legislation which denies the unborn their rights, denies society the marriages it needs to maintain the family as a meaningful institution, and denies parents the right to a choice of school without penalizing them financially.

The day after Quinn’s column appeared the paper’s deputy political editor, Michael Brennan, reported that the “Labour Party is making a pitch for the ‘gay vote’ by calling for a same-sex marriage referendum – but it risks alienating more conservative voters. Leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday said the party wanted to push ahead with a referendum to allow gay people the same right to marry as straight people.”  And on abortion he said “Labour is still maintaining its policy on another divisive social issue – it wants to introduce legislation which would copper-fasten the right of women to access life-saving abortions.”

However, Brennan warned, Labour’s social policies could cause divisions with its likely coalition partner Fine Gael, which is opposed to holding an abortion referendum and has not publicly backed same-sex marriages.

Fine Gael’s leader, and the man most likely to be Ireland’s next prime minister, is still less than forthright on exactly what terms he will enter coalition with Labour if he fails to gain an overall majority for this own party. Campaigning in Galway last week one journalist observed him as follows: “Enda has a word for everyone and looks like he’ll stand talking to anyone for as long as his aides will tolerate it. He engages in extended impromptu discussions about abortion, Shell to Sea (a local controversy in the West), the pubic service, and each time sets out his position in full.” Really?

The electorate knows he is “personally” opposed to abortion and considers marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. But but they have also heard him acknowledge that “there are other points of view”. What those seemingly tolerant words will mean if and when he come to form a government with those of that other point of view is what the traditional electors of Ireland do not yet know. The elephant is still in the room.