I’m attempting to remain rational, coherent and as always, see at least two sides to an argument.
I’ve failed. Miserably. And I don’t care.
As my colleagues here have already posted; there is a referendum (two actually but I’m focusing on one for now) looming, lurking, skulking like an angry bear with a hangover on the horizon. We’re all entitled to our opinion, to vote as is our want, such is benefit of living in a democratic society. One important point to bear in mind: there is only one way to vote. It has three letters.
I’ve toyed with how to compose my reasoning for this and it’s ranged from the short, “just vote yes for Christ’s sake” to a long winded, rambling discussion. What finally tipped me over the edge to take fingers to keyboard?
THIS….. opinion piece penned in the Irish Times earlier today. (My points in bold italics).
Written: D. Vincent Twomey SVD author of The End of Irish Catholicism?, Moral Theology after Humanae Vitae
Published: Irish Times, 1st May 2015.
The marriage referendum is about changing marriage from a union of a man and a woman into the union of two adults regardless of gender who desire a lifelong commitment. (Anyone who is sure enough of their commitment to chosen partner should be allowed to celebrate it in whatever way they chose. I’m a firm believer in as much choice for people as possible even if I don’t necessarily agree with it).
Up to a few decades ago, the meaning of marriage as the union of two complementary sexes open to procreation has been unquestioned. (Why do people insist on equating marriage with procreating? Fine, the Church’s position is exactly that: no sex before marriage, sex is for procreating only and thou shalt not enjoy a second of the procreating. This viewpoint should have been questioned before now. Can anyone definitively prove to me that Neanderthal Man have marriage? Prove it? My point? They still procreated. Otherwise you wouldn’t be seated in front of your computer screen reading this. Marriage and procreating are not mutually exclusive. Hell, look at the birth statistics of the children born *gasp* out of wedlock). In four weeks’ time, it will be voted on and a majority opinion will determine whether one of the most natural aspects of humanity (Natural? Who decided what’s natural? Maybe it was natural. Lot’s of things that were considered natural or normal are no longer accepted as being natural. We’re human. We’ve evolved from what we once were, this vote, this changing of what’s considered natural, is merely us evolving again. If we don’t evolve we remain stagnant and remaining stagnant will lead to decay, not now but in decades of society as a whole) is going to be changed to suit a certain interpretation of equality. (Everything can be left open to interpretation why do you think we have courts of law? Prosecution and Defence? So both sides can interpret what is already there and build on it. Improve it if needs be).
As a people, we generally tend to be gentle, humane and loving. (I’m taking it you’ve never read a history book or opened a newspaper in the last 6 months. Or today. Go look up a court case in Edinburgh involving a day old baby. Yes, people are generally gentle and human. Fuck it, go back to last summer and Goggle Tuam, Mass Grave and see where that gets you). It is to this national characteristic, (funny, I thought we were a country who enjoyed a drink and can’t manage our money) nurtured (not the word I would have chosen to describe my interactions with the Church in primary school) by its underlying Christian ethos, that the current political and media establishment is appealing.
The ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the Government and urged on by the media (while the media is generally meant to remain impartial, in this case the more they urge a yes vote the better) , is appealing to our emotions. (“We’re people, we generally tend to be gentle, humane and loving” remember? Emotions generally come as part of the package. Unless you’re a sociopath) The presentation of equality (you make it sound like equality a front, a face, a mere notion on paperwork and not real) for persons (people, not persons. Persons make it sound like you are attempting to dehumanise homosexuals) who are gay touches the heartstrings of all (sip of condescension anyone?), but especially the older generation. In this writer’s opinion, this has had at least one positive result. It has helped to counter negative attitudes to same-sex people as persons of inherent dignity. Empathy is replacing what was at best nervous distance, at worse real homophobia. And that is good and welcome. (Really? Are you sure you mean that? It doesn’t read as if you do).
But there is an unpleasant undercurrent, that of intimidation. People who, in their heart of hearts, cannot equate same-sex unions with marriage fear being accused of homophobia. The few who dare to express their views in public have experienced an onslaught in social media. (It’s social media, people are allowed to express their opinion. If you don’t want to get feedback, either good or bad, then don’t post to social media). The most intimidated of all seem to be our elected representatives. It is incredible that the political parties have imposed the whip to get their members to support the “Yes” vote. All but one Senator submitted. (You know what, he’s right, people shouldn’t be intimidated. They should stand up for themselves. BUT, wait for it. Our elected representatives are exactly that: OUR elected representatives. We put them there because we thought they would make the best possible decisions for us, our society, our community, our country as a whole. Not just part of it. Not just the bit they liked, or the bit the Bible says is right, or what their conservative highly religious grandmother, grandaunt or father says is right. They are supposed to make decisions that will help us, the country, the community evolve. Right now, that decision is to ensure that every citizen has the right to marriage. If they can’t make that decision, fine, but expect and accept the inevitable consequences).
Is the Catholic hierarchy also intimidated? (They should be)The bishops will be anxious not to turn the referendum into a Church-State issue (too late) or to cause more offence to those most affected (also too late, I want to take a can of spray paint to some of the posters). Some bishops and priests are addressing their faithful directly in church; that is their right and duty. (Grand, I don’t go to Church so I don’t have to hear it) But Church encompasses more than the hierarchy, namely the laity. (Is there more to this point? If there is, where is it? How is or how has the Church so far decided to communicate with the laity?)
Irish people resent being bullied by either Church or State. (I think most people would resent being bullied by anyone but I’ll let this go) Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”. For over a year, the campaign waged by the Government urged on by the media has been relentless. (Has it? Seriously? Has it been relentless? I’ve only noticed an increase since January) In the final weeks, reason may triumph over emotion (I refer back to my earlier point, we’re a gentle people, emotions rule us even when we don’t want them to) . As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change? The simple answer is: human nature. (Where? Where does it say that allowing two people of the same sex to marry is changing human nature? Eh? The Greeks and Roman’s both indulged broadly speaking, in same sex relationships. I’m also going to repeat a point I wrote earlier: human nature changes. That’s the whole point. We’re not the same as we were 50 years ago, a hundred years ago. We need to change and evolve. This, allowing two people regardless of the sexual preference to marry, to declare that they are more than willingly, nay desire, to be bound together until death is everyone’s right. Who are who to deny that? Who is anyone? What gives you the right to sit behind a keyboard and pontificate as to what human nature truly is?)
This referendum touches the very source of our humanity. (Here we go again, why do I feel we should be engaging in a philosophical debate on what humanity is?) Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. (Which is what we want to change, that’s why we’re having a referendum) Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. (Keep up, that is the article we want to change to include ALL of society) As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. (Which the State has done. And in protecting those rights, the State has recognised a flaw, that same sex couples are excluded, they are not recognised and protected. The referendum aims to change that) In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society. (Ok, fine family has been the nucleus of society; fly in your argument; if I remember it was a village that raised children. The entire community has a say in past generations, eras as to the instilling of morals and values in a child) . Past and future converge in the family. Through marriage, future generations come into being. (Here we go again. Marriage producing children was the ideal of generations past. You honestly expect me to believe that there was never a bastard child born before? The production of future generations (that sounds so clinical) is truly the preserve of married couples?) A nation’s culture is passed on primarily through the family. (I would argue that the assimilation into the actual culture of the nation helps to reinforce it and pass it onto future, married produced, generations) Since the dawn of time, the union (what definition of union) of man and woman was simply assumed (never assume, and never use assumptions in your arguments) to be the origin of the family. This is what we are being asked to change.
This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” (What is the UN Declaration of “family”) That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. (Hitler? Stalin? You’re actually mentioning these two in an attempt to reinforce your argument? You’re obviously not aware of the accepted conceit that once Hitler is mentioned in a discussion on the internet, the discussion is over) In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family. This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy. The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people. The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included. (So the State, through the referendum, is attempting to destroy the current definition of family in order to exert total control over us? That’s a bit extreme isn’t it?)
Though it is not primarily the State that is seeking to redefine marriage and thus the family, our Government is proposing that we introduce a profound contradiction into the heart of the Constitution. Instead of the Constitution’s recognition of the family as having “inalienable and imperceptible rights, (Read the fine print, the courts have also decided that these rights are not absolute) antecedent and superior to all positive law”, the family based on marriage is being made subservient to the State. The notion of inalienable rights is often interpreted in legal circles as rights which one cannot oneself give up but they are in fact rights which are not given by the State; the State is under obligation to protect them. These non-negotiable rights are the measure of all positive law — legislative or constitutional – because they arise from our common human nature, created by God. This is recognised by Article 6 of the Irish Constitution, which states that “All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people”. The moral demands of our common human nature are known through conscience, the voice of God in our heart of hearts, if we but listen to it.
Just vote “yes”.