This is a question no one is asking after LGBT Noise’s March For Marriage on Sunday. In 2009 Over 3,000 people took part in that Year’s March For Marriage. This year the number is down to 2000 (Figure from Irish Times). That is compared to the 5,000 22,000 people took part in Dublin Pride Parade and the 100,000 who lined the streets of Dublin for Pride.
Why is this?
Is it people are willing to give the Civil Partnership Bill a chance? (Despite its ignorance of children)
Is it due to the general confusion about what the bill does? (I know I have been asked questions on this)
Is LGBT Noise actually on the sidelines on Gay Public Opinion?
Are people fed up of the Marriage Debate and want a quite life for a bit?
Who knows the real answer. But it will be interesting to see how this goes on.
There was some debate yesterday in the Seanad on the Civil Partnership Bill during the order of business. Fianna Fail Senators Labhrás Ó Murchú, Jim Walsh and John Gerard Hanafin raised objections to parts of the Bill and one called for a referendum. Also Fine Gael’s John Paul Phelan also spoke against part of the Bill.
Senator Ó Murchú claimed that the Civil Partnership Bill 2009 would breach some people’s human rights, he even compared it to the Penal laws! He said
I may have to speak in this House on behalf of Irish prisoners of conscience. The Civil Partnership Bill 2009 provides that a person can lose his or her job or be imprisoned, and that churches and other bodies can have their property commandeered. I do not think that is right in a country that has upheld traditional values down through the centuries, often in the face of oppression and misrepresentation. I do not think it is right that people who in good conscience believe they are upholding the same values should be subject to such a penal code. Many people in Ireland will see this as an echo of the dreaded penal laws. It cannot be correct.
It is difficult, however, to ask any Member to abrogate his conscience with regard to matters which he – or she for that matter- feels are issues of conscience that are not for compromise in their view. Several issues will emerge, not just civil partnership but also embryonic stem cell research, pro-life and abortion issues. There is a ream of social issues which will have huge impact on the development of our society. We need to be careful. Those who have a view contrary to a liberal agenda being pushed by others have a right to a free vote on such issues as have people outside the right to exercise freedom of conscience.
Senator Hanafin called for a referendum and a free vote on the Civil Partnership Bill,
I call for a debate on the matter raised by Senators Ó Murchú and Walsh on the rights of people who will find themselves in extreme and difficult circumstances should the Civil Partnership Bill pass. The reality is there are people like myself who have difficulty with the Bill. As chairman of the Green Party and someone very much involved in the programme for Government, I ask the Deputy Leader again for a referendum such that the question can go to the people. Does the public seek a situation whereby a same-sex, sexual relationship has a higher standing in law than that of brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters or friends who live together in an ordinary way? Should such a relationship be put on a higher plain? I do not believe it should be nor do I believe that anyone who feels the same as I do should be discriminated against for that belief. With this in mind, I ask again for a referendum and, in particular, for a free vote when the situation comes to this House.
Senator Phelan also called for a free vote, not to criminalise registrars for non-performanace, and for brothers and sisters to be included
I have a reservation about the Civil Partnership Bill, which can impose a criminal sanction on a registrar who does not perform his or her role. I agreed with the decriminalisation of homosexuality ten or 20 years ago. Criminalising registrars for non-performance of their function is not a correct step in any legislation. I often disagree with Senator Hanafin but I strongly agree with him on this matter. I know so many brothers and sisters in my area who live together and never married. I am sure you also know of such people, a Chathaoirligh. I do not object to granting rights to couples, whether of the same or the opposite sex. However, people who are living together in a loving but non-sexual relationship, perhaps brothers or sisters, should not be discriminated against.
Also in the debate some interesting remarks were made by Senators Liam Twomey and Paul Bradford of Fine Gael.
With regard to the Civil Partnership Bill, how would people feel if members of my profession or the nursing profession decided not to treat patients on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religious persuasion? It would be completely unworkable. Members who are making speeches in this House must be a little more practical in their comments. Not agreeing with carrying out abortions or conducting embryonic stem cell research should not be put in the same category as treating patients who have a different religious persuasion, sexual orientation or gender. The same applies to nurses. We must clearly separate these issues and not muddy the waters with such talk either inside or outside the House.
Senator Bradford commented on the reaction to some statements and called for a fair and balanced debate,
I note the preamble on the Order of Business to the debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the level of discomfort caused by certain comments made by some of my colleagues. I am not so intellectually superior to state anybody’s comments were misguided or erroneous and I am disappointed Members’ views were described as such. I do not live on a plane of such moral or intellectual superiority that I would describe anybody’s views as misguided. I hope we will have a tolerant debate when the Bill is before the House. It will be an interesting test of the House, our agenda and society. We claim to live in a liberal republic, but I have never encountered people as illiberal as those who refuse to accept other persons’ points of view as being equally balanced and fair.
There was a presentation of views by Senators Walsh and Ó Murchú. Perhaps there were others but, unfortunately, I did not hear all the other Members’ contributions. I was interested in the level of discomfort they appeared to cause on all sides of the House. The forthcoming debate on the Civil Partnership Bill must be fair and balanced. People not only have a conscience but a right to their conscience and we must try to ensure the debate is calm and fair. I look forward to presenting my views and some proposals as to how we can accommodate people’s conscientious difficulties. I hope that when a Member stands to express a different point of view, it will not be in a land of mutter, tutter, Twitter and discomfort. Our so-called liberal republic should also be a tolerant republic in which people can express their views without being derided and accused of being misguided and erroneous.
Senator Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael) asked when the Bill was going to make it to the Seanad. Also Senator David Norris (Independent) called on Senators Ó Murchú, Hanafin, Walsh and Mullen to vote against the Bill like he is doing, he on the issue of Children.
Senator Dan Boyle (Green Party) had this to say in his response to the debate
With regard to the pre-debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the issues raised by Senators Ó Murchú, Walsh, Hanafin, O’Reilly and Phelan—–
In that regard, I point Members to the comments of President John F. Kennedy on defined political practice. He distinguished between the holding of personal religious beliefs and issues of conscience and the responsibilities of a public representative of all the people. When we debate this Bill, those principles should help to inform it. There is already legislation with which many of us would have conscientious issues. As people who form the law and have a responsibility for law already enacted, we have a responsibility to act on that conscience in a legal and responsible way for all the citizens of the country. I look forward to that debate. It is a necessary debate and must happen. I will share my views with those who are expressing concern on conscientious grounds.
The Civil Partnership Bill could be in for a bumpy ride when it gets to the Seanad.
The full debate can be read on Kildare Street here and here
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.
The above is a ruling from Justice Susan Denham of the Supreme Court on the right of access to a child of a lesbian couple. This was overruling Justice Hedigan, of the High Court, who held that ‘de facto’ families existed under the European Convention on Human Rights.
This is an interesting ruling from the Supreme Court and takes a bit of an argument away from Gay Marriage Campaigners. The High Court judgement was being used an arguement in favour, but now its over ruled.
While its a pity Gay and Lesbian Couples aren’t recognised as families, but maybe this will put pressure on the government to legislate it for it in the Civil Partnership Bill.
Last night I attended the GLENbriefing on the Civil Partnership Bill, hosted by the Cork Gay Project and L.inc. It was a very interesting meeting and I certainly learned a lot! We were given a 3 booklets on the Bill and I am currently working my way through them and they are fascinating. The speakers were Eoin Collins, Director of Policy Change at Glen and Dr Fergus Ryan, head of Law at DIT.
A few things struck me last night during the talks by the speakers. One of those was what they called this bill. They called it “momentous”, “profound”, “substantive” and “the biggest change to family law”. A few other things that caught me were that we must “accept progress along the way” (that’s directed at you Marriage Activists) and that we need to focus on “whats in the Bill” (I got flashbacks to the Lisbon Campaign when that was said).
We are going to get this bill whether we like it or not. But this bill will do a lot for Gay and Lesbian Couples (or same-sex couples as they are called). The bill will confer rights and obligations that are equivalent to marriage. It will help to equal the playing field between same-sex couples and opposite sex couples, who at the moment, even if unmarried are better protected under Irish Law.
Just a quick note, remember that the Civil Partnership scheme in the Bill only applies to same-sex couples, while the presumptive cohabitation scheme will apply to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.
So a quick did you know about the Bill.
Did you know you don’t need to be Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual to enter into a Civil Partnership?Under the bill at it stands the Civil Partnership must be between two people of the same sex and not related (ie: Father and son, or brothers etc)
Did you know you have to take vows under the bill? Under the bill a Civil Partnership Ceremony must take place in public in front of two witnesses and vows must be said.
Did you know Divorce (dissolution) is easier for a Civil Partner? Under the bill to get a dissolution you must be living separatelyfor two out of previous three years. To get a Divorce under marriage you need to living separately for four of the previous five years. There is also no clean break in a Gay Divorce, just like in a Straight Divorce.
There are a few distinctions without a difference between Marriage and Civil Partnerships but legally there is not a whole heap of difference.
But Tax, Social Welfare and Immigration aren’t dealt with in the Bill!
And rightly so. If Tax and Social Welfare were dealt with in this bill it would have to be certified as a money bill. This means the Seanad would have only 21 days to look at the bill and the Dáil can over rule it a lot easier. It is important that the bill is being dealt in the way that is. Provision will be made under the Finance Bill and Social Welfare Bill to make changes.
As for immigration, there is a bill dealing with immigration currently before the Oireachtas. This can easily amended to provide for Same-sex couples.
What is wrong with the Bill?
The bill does have a number of deficiencies. It does not deal with children adequately nor does it deal with citizenship. These can be remedied through the stages of the bill in the Oireachtas and Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik have committed themselves to putting an amendment on Children forward.
What is right with the bill?
The bill will give more rights in the following ares:
Equality (introduction of Civil Status)
Right to sue for Wrongful Death
The bill will amend over 130 pieces of legislation. It will allow the law to play a role when people need it most, on illness, separation and death.
This bill is needed now. It would be cruel to dismiss it for something that we might get further down the line. That is the problem we don’t know when, we don’t how, and we think a referendum will be needed. Could you imagine the COIR posters if there was a referendum on Gay Marriage??
This is one of the biggest reforms of family law to be undertaken in Ireland. Hopefully this bill will start a train of reform in Irish Family Law, which is sorely needed!