But what about the straights?

Cohabitation vie professionnelle et familiale ...
Image by gelinh via Flickr

A lot of the talk surrounding the Civil Partnerships Bill is concentrating on the aspects concerned with the rights of gay partners. For a change it is the consequences for hetrosexual (and homosexual may I add) of the other part of the bill to do with cohabitation is being largely ignore.

Carol Coulter had a very good analysis is yesterdays Irish Times about this. It is well worth reading.

This bill will affect more peoples lives then you think. I personally know plenty of people that this act will affect. Make sure you know what it does.

Relationships are about to get more legalistic. Is that what we want?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

31 thoughts on “But what about the straights?”

  1. Part of the problem is that you’re dealing with a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation in the first place. A better solution would be to eliminate the gender discrimination in terms of marriage recognition (i.e. allow for gay civil marriages) and deal with cohabitation in a separate bill which wouldn’t be drowned out by debate over the rights of gay people.

  2. I’m not suggesting ‘messing’ with marriage laws, simply removing the existing practise of discrimination on the basis of gender, which is what justice demands. I can’t see what else would need to be changed with regard to marriage laws, and then you could have a separate debate as to other types of relationship and what (voluntary) legal protections are appropriate for them.

  3. But I don’t think removing the gender discrimination will fix anything. Its not the way to deal with it. It will creat too much hassle in the system as marriage is not defined as in the Irish Constitution or Law, but by the religion of teh state which is how it should be.

  4. as in the main religion of the state, which in Ireland’s case is Christianity. According to that religion marriage is between a man and woman. Marriage means matrimony, protection of the woman. There is no way a same gender partnership can exist using the term marriage.

  5. There are so many problems with that I hardly know where to begin.

    According to Christianity, divorce is not permissable. Would you have voted against legalising divorce in Ireland?

    Not to be glib, but you realise that you are essentially advocating a theorcratic government, don’t you?

  6. Not all christian faiths believe that divorce is not permissable.

    Its not a theocratic government. I want a government and law influenced by church teachings, not dictated by them. There is a big difference.

    As a gay man, i see no reason for gay marriage.I have yet to be convinced of it.

  7. ‘A government and law influenced by church teachings’
    Since there is no such thing as the ‘Christian Church’, I take this to refer to the Catholic Church, which does see divorce as impermissible, as well as the use of contraceptives and other things I imagine you would not be comfortable with placing into law. The objection that not all Christian faiths believe in these things rings pretty hollow. Census statistics from 2006 indicate that after Catholicism the largest group of people in the state are those with no religion. We cannot be thus plausibly claimed to be a ‘Christian nation’ as opposed to a Catholic one.

    And I am afraid I must disagree. You are proposing that the laws of the land should reflect the teachings of a particular church. This is de facto theocracy. It does not matter that it is not a bishop sitting in Dail Eireann making the laws if the substance of those laws have been shaped by ‘church teaching’.

    To your final point, as a gay man you do not need to be convinced of gay marriage. Rather as someone who would restrict the liberty of other people, you have to justify your actions, if you accept the Harm Principle. As someone who is self-interested, you should recognise the dangerous precedent which is set by allowing religious views to seep into public law. As someone who cares about political justice, you should recognise that such laws are totally at odds with any reasonable conception of justice, since they are based upon premises to which all citizens could not reasonably be expected to consent. Nobody benefits from a blurring of the lines between church and state. Whether you are religious or nonreligious, it sets a dangerous precedent and gives the government far too much control in what ought to be a private affair.

    (As an aside, here’s an article from a different viewpoint you might be interested in: http://www.newsweek.com/id/229957)

  8. You would be incorrect in your assumptions Brian. I take my reasoning from the Anglican Church. When I refer to christian churchs I am refering to the broad concensus that exists between the churchs on a number of issues. One of them is Gay Marriage.

    I want laws that fit with morals, which is what we have. I am not looking for any changes to current system. You seem to think I am, but I am not.

    And yes, if someone wants me to support Gay Marriage, they do need to convince me. Until that point I will continue to oppose it. Spouting on about principles which are not based on an arguement will not change my mind.

  9. Firstly, the vast majority of Irish Christians are Catholics. As I pointed out above, there are fewer Irish Protestants than people who have no religion. I am at a complete loss as to why you would wish to accept only those matters on which there exists a ‘broad consensus’ amongst different Christian sects. You have given no reason to suggest why it is appropriate to incorporate principles upon which there is a consensus, rather than principles of the Catholic Church alone.

    Secondly, and more importantly, what you are advocating is that religious morality be implemented in the political sphere. You want the moral views of a series of institutions (which does not necessarily reflect the moral views of all their adherents as we know from recent surveys) to be implemented in law. This is nothing short of the imposition of religious moral values by a supposed majority upon a minority.

    Finally, and most importantly, the principles I mentioned are indeed backed up by substantive arguments (See JS Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ and John Rawls’ A Theory Of Justice’) I did not provide arguments here because these principles are widely accepted. If you don’t accept them then I’ll have to go further back.

    The Harm Principle states that the only reason for which the government is justified in coercing its citizens is to prevent harm to others. The default position then, is that the burden of proof rests upon the person who wishes to restrict liberty. This is your position. If you accept the harm principle, then please tell me what harm would result in the legalisation of gay marriage. If you do not accept it, please explain why.

    The principle I take from Rawls is that it is simply not fair to impose a law upon citizens who could not reasonably be expected to consent to it, all other things being equal. Since there is no proof that God exists, laws based upon the word of God are necessarily a matter of faith. And faith cannot and should not be imposed upon non-believers, which is precisely what you are advocating. Any law which can only be justified if one accepts a certain religious proposition, will be inherently unjust if applied to a non-believer.

  10. A summary of where I think we are:

    We both agree that as the law stands, same-sex couples are being discriminated against.

    The central question then is whether or not this discrimination is justified.

    My argument is:

    1. That discrimination is only justified if it is necessary to safeguard the rights of others.
    2. That people do not have a right to impose their religious views upon others.
    3. That removing the discrimination would not constitute a harm to other people, nor would it deprive them of any of their legal rights.
    4. Given 1-3 above, continuing the discrimination is not necessary to safeguard the rights of others.

    5. Therefore, the existing discrimination is unjustifiable.

  11. So, when you speak of the Anglican Church, and presumably those she is in communion with you speak bearing in mind the very large number of gay priests who operate in London and are married to other priests. As well you look to our covenant church in Stockholm, at the Bishop there who holds the highest religious office in that state who just happens to be a married lesbian with a child.

    I suggest you look a little more closely at the reasoning of the Anglican Church in relation to this. While there is an evangelical movement within the Anglican Communion the majority support same sex marriage and union. While the actual ceremony of marriage has not been fully allowed it is being worked on. So not sure where your thinking on this comes from?

  12. Brain,

    No, nothing you say is changing my mind on it, Quoting principles does not change facts. Marriage is between a man and a woman has it has been for centuries. Nothing can change that. Yes there needs to be recognition of gay relationships, though civil unions/civil patnerships, but gay marriage is not the answer.

    Shane,
    As far as I am aware the Gay Marriage does not exist in england, so I am confused by your statement. As for Sweden, that is their choice. What I have ttaken from my beliefs is that as stated, marriage cannot be between two men or two women. We dont need it. We need recognition, not marriage.

  13. The reason gay marriage doesn’t exist in England is because the Anglican Communion as a whole are working towards approaching it in a sensitive manner that keeps all parts of the communion happy. The benefits of marriage are one thing, the ceremony of marriage is a strictly church affair so putting the to together isn’t always the correct thing to do. Blessings of unions have taken place on a number of occasions although not popular as people would rather a full church service.

    And that isn’t Sweden’s choice actually. As the Anglican Church in Ireland and elsewhere in the world are in FULL communion with the church in stockholm, and Sweden, what is going on there is the state at present is ahead of a universal church decision but if a Bishop, a lesbian one at that is effectively married with children it should be an indication of where the Anglican Church is going. As the Bishop says, our church is in turmoil over this but is moving in the right direction. What I questioned was where exactly were you in line with the Anglican Church. Not your stance on marriage.

  14. With respect Stephen, your most recent comment has not engaged with my argument at all. This is somewhat annoying since you specifically asked for an argument to back up my earlier position.

    You could point out a flaw in the logic between the premises I gave above, or you could question the soundness of any of them.

    I do not expect you to necessarily agree with either the harm principle or the Rawlsian consent principle I outlined above, but you have simply ignored them, rather than stating whether and why you disagree with either and/or my application of them.

    All you have done is state a historical fact (that the vast majority of marriages throughout history have been between men and women.) You then asserted that nothing could change this, without any reason given as to why this must be so. (Voting had been a right reserved for men in most places until the 20th century, yet this practice changed.) All the while you ignored the argument I laid out above, which I will repeat here:

    My argument is:

    1. That discrimination is only justified if it is necessary to safeguard the rights of others.
    2. That people do not have a right to impose their religious views upon others.
    3. That removing the discrimination would not constitute a harm to other people, nor would it deprive them of any of their legal rights.
    4. Given 1-3 above, continuing the discrimination is not necessary to safeguard the rights of others.
    5. Therefore, the existing discrimination is unjustifiable.

    I would like to know what problem(s) you have with the above.

    1. Brian,

      I dont want to debate principles et al, cause they wont change anything. As for your 5 point argument. The legal position of Marriage, and that of the family based on the marriage, creates a distinctive set of rights. This is defined as family based on the marriage between a man and woman. No discrimination takes place. Why? because there is no right to marriage. What there is a right to, is recognition of a relationship. That can be satisfied through the current Civil Partnership Bill.

      Shane,
      As far as I am aware, the Church of Sweden is not in full communion with the Church of England/Ireland. It is part of the Porvoo Communion, which is sperate. Sweden’s decision is not taken as a decision by part of the Anglican Communion as it is not part of it. I thought you would know that Shane. I agree that the Anglican Church is in turmoil over this, but I do not think marriage is the right way to go, and I am not the only anglican who thinks that.

  15. On the contrary, principles change everything. Principles of justice determine the scope and purpose of the entire political sphere. Which ones you accept are therefore vital if any coherent ideology is to be firmly grounded.

    You finally attempted to respond to my argument, but rather than question the premises, you make the frankly bizarre claim that there is no actual discrimination going on. This is simply false. As the law stands, a same-sex couple is not entitled to enter into a civil marriage. There is a legal institution which is open to certain types of couple and not to others. There is of course a legal right to marriage which is granted to opposite sex couples but not to same-sex couples. That you could attempt to deny this is baffling in the extreme.

    1. Brian,

      It is up to a state how it recognises a relationship and how it values different types of relationship. This is even set out in our constitution. To me there is no discrimination, i dont see it as discrimination as the two or not the same. I dont want to be seen as the same. I am different. I am not normal. This is how I was created, I want to celebrate that difference not be the same.

      (PS I deleted the comments on the wrong post)

  16. Surely, any fool can realise that fear of difference has been the root cause of innumerable skirmishes throughout history. Sexuality manifests itself in humanity in a variety of forms. Some are attracted to those of opposite gender, some to those of the same gender, some to both. And, surely it is only right and proper for us to realise that sexuality does not divide us, it unites us. We may express our affections differently, and we may all be born with differing tendencies, but we all, as humans, have a common desire for love, and affection and a need to display the same. Marriage for all is the only way for us to eradicate the wickedness that is homophobia from this planet – we need to show the world that all people are created equal, and that the genital-grouping of someone’s loved one is entirely irrelevant.

    1. Stephane,

      If you think gay marriage will get rid of homophobia, then you are quite naive. Homosexuality is not normal. Marriage for all changes something that has been around for a long time, why mess with a structure that works?

      Homosexuals, and Im speaking as one, are different. We are made different. We should be cherishing that, not trying to pretend we are the same, when we are not.

      plain and simple

  17. Homosexuality is not normal? How can you say that? How can you so obstinately drag yourself into the mires of freakishness, whilst all and sundry scream and warn you of the alligators that dwell therein? Homosexuality is perfectly, normal, and I say this from personal experience – I am gay also. You’re not the single Bastion of Perversion that you would so eagerly be for all the world. You are a gay man, yes, but why let that define every single bit of who and what you are? Why let that separate you from the rest of society? Some day, you’ll need to awaken from the artificial 1950s you have created around yourself and drag yourself kicking and screaming back into the twenty-first century. If gay marriage will not eradicate homophobia, your attitudes will certainly not. If we say that we are abnormal, then society will follow suit, you see.

    As for not changing the system, I’m sure even you can think of examples from history where systems needed changing. Up until the 1910s, for instance, women were not allowed to vote. Up until the 1960s in America, black and white people could not marry together. Until the 1980s, people of different skin-colours in South Africa could not live in the same regions as one another. But why mess with the system, when it ostensibly works?

  18. Yawn, the same old argument which im fed up of hearing, and means nothing in this debate.

    You may what to look at yourself Stephane, as you will soon find, your not normal. We dont fit in with the majority. Its a perfectly healthy way of seeing yourself. Its not being stuck in the 1950’s. I love being different. Its means I am me.

    Why should we all be normal? That would mean their would be less diversity, less creativity and less challenges for all.

    Marriage seeks to blur this, and I dont want that and I dont think it should happen.

    We are different and should be treated as such. Marriage is not the answer, Civil Unions/Partnerships are. Something that we can call our own. Create our own meanings with and celebrate our difference.

    And i guessed from your first comment you were gay.

  19. I’m terribly sorry, old thing, but that is the most fatuous excuse for a response I have ever read. Unfortunately, you insist on conflating diversity and division, on merging difference and abnormality – and this is a grave error. Yes, gay people are different to straight people in so much as gay people are attracted to the same gender, and straight people are attracted to the opposite gender. But how does the existence of one relegate the other? How does the fact that straight is not gay mean that gay is abnormal and straight is normal?

    To apply that same logic to other circumstances is equally fallacious. For instance, men and women are different – they are not the same. By your logic, men are abnormal and women are normal (as there are more women on the planet than men). Therefore, women ought to be entitled to superior rights to men. Similarly, the Irish are different to the French. There are fewer Irish people than there are French people, therefore Irish people are not normal, whereas the French are normal. Thus, the French receive different rights to the Irish.

    You really need to start thinking, old boy, I find it tremendously useful in avoid stuffing your foot into your mouth.

    1. oh my, my Stephane, one can always take an explanation too far. You missed the point entirely. Giving out and and calling me “old boy” is not going to get you anywhere, apart from possibly having your comments marked as spam.

      Men and women are normal. Irish and French people are normal. Straight people are normal. Gays are not. It is that way. We are very different. We get treated different. We get special protections. But we are not the same. I am not saying we are superior or inferior, but biologically we are abnormal. We less then 1 in 10 of the population. That makes us abnormal scientifically. Gay marriage won’t change that.

      @Brian, Civil Partnerships in Ireland will be for gays only. The cohabitation scheme will apply to all. You may want to get your facts right.

      There is a difference between Marriage and a Gay Marriage. One is the marriage of a man and a women. The other is a perversion of this.

  20. @Stephen,

    The definition of discrimination is treating things differently. You see it as justified discrimination, which is fine in theory, except that you have provided no argument as to why it is justified. Some kinds of discrimination are of course justified. We discriminate, for example, against people with convictions for child abuse in denying them access to certain kinds of jobs, and rightly so.

    If you do not want to get married, that’s one thing. But not wanting others to get married is something quite different. And while it is ‘up to the state’ as to how it recognises a relationship, this is true only in the legal sense. The state has the power to recognise relationships as equal before the law, or to discriminate. Where principles of justice come in is in guiding that power, determining under what circumstances discrimination (treating people differently) is justified and when it is not. My contention is that it’s not justified here, you obviously disagree because you feel there is a fundamental difference between a gay marriage and a heterosexual one, but you have not shown why this is so, beyond simply stating that you feel it to be so.

    (And I should also point out that civil partnerships are hardly something for ‘us to call our own’ ((even if that was a good idea)), given that they are also open to heterosexuals.)

    @Stephane – Very well said!

  21. “We less then 1 in 10 of the population. That makes us abnormal scientifically.” So, minorities are inherently abnormal on an anthropological level? People with an IQ of over 130 amount to under 1-2% of the total population. By your logic, that makes people of above-average intelligence *much* more abnormal than gays. So, intelligent people are abnormal, are they? Well now.

    I can see that it is impossible to have a conversation with you that is based primarily or wholly on logic – because you refuse to engage with someone on the basis of interactive and dynamic logical argument. You have your own pre-conceived answers for everything which you select as vaguely appropriate to the situation. I see no point in attempting to discuss this issue with you any further.

  22. Mea Culpa, I was thinking of the Californian Domestic Partnerships.

    Would you like to address the rest of my argument yet?

    You still have provided zero reasons as to why gay marriages should not be recognised. I’m really trying to engage in a constructive debate here but you haven’t actually provided an argument for your side at all.

    Also, your use of the term ‘abnormal’ is really quite strange. Being less than 10% of the population automatically makes a person abnormal? Did you know that less than 10% of the Irish population have red hair. That makes people with red hair abnormal according to your definition. Should we have separate institutions for them as well?

  23. To be perfectly honest Stephen, I suspect the reason there is no point in arguing is because you don’t actually have any arguments. We’re 30 responses in and not once did you provide a logical argument to back up any of your assertions.

    (And I was thinking of California because I’ve been discussing it on other forums recently with people and got the two jurisdictions confused in terms of the substance of the law)

Leave a Reply