FF Senators not happy with Civil Partnership Bill

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.

Senator Walsh made a contribution making the case for a free vote, this was backed by Fine Gael’s Senator Joe O’Reilly. Senator Walsh said:

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.

Senator Twomey made this contribution,

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

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Monday Links – 10/08/09

Blue Lake Jetty
Image by Chris Gin via Flickr

Well its Monday, its been a hectic week at home for me, no travelling at least, so I have a few things for you to check out.

Tommy, of TrustTommy, had an excellent article in the Times of all places! Fair play!

Irish Web Awards Nominations are open!

Easkey, Co Sligo [pop. 250] went gay for a day!

Some cool cards on CurlyDena’s blog

Gamma has a video of Billy Connolly on Catholicism and Sarah Palin

“Are we European or becoming European?” asks The European Citizen

Joe has a fantastic post on Global Nomads and organising a wedding as one

Bock asks what has Irish Independence given us

Sara points out that I am a geek over a post on Dailyshite

Carmel has an excellent post on the LGBT Community in Israel since the recent killings in Tel Aviv

The North could have ended up in France?? What??

South Koreas Military is a bit odd, what are practising for?

Have a nice day!

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Bush in one move did more for gays then Clinton ever did

Yup that is right. Found out via Gaypatriot.net. President Bush signed into law the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008. This makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of the employee’s death.

Why is this more progressive then Clinton? Well lets have a look at what he brought the Gay Community in America. He signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (known as DOMA) which has two effects:

1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
2. The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

Secondly President Clinton brough us “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which prohibits anyone who “demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” from serving in the armed forces of the United States, because it “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”.

So tell me who did more for Gay rights in America? Bush or Clinton?

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The English Catholic Church – Moving with the times?

LONDON - JANUARY 06:  Churchgoers crowd the ai...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeAfter the recent did he mention it or didn’t he mention speech by the Pope it is good to see that the English Catholic Church is moving with the times according to GCN.ie. Bishops in England have sent out leaflets urging priest not to use ‘heterosexist’ language in church.

Priest have been told not assume that all Church goers are heterosexual. “Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful – a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain,”. It is good that part of the Church is waking up to how it talks about part of its congregation.

Of course no everyone is happy with this. Lynette Burrows, a Catholic commentator, describes the move as ‘pitiful’. She said it was ridiculous that Church leaders appeared to be ‘ grovelling’ to a secular agenda.

‘It is things like this that are enfeebling the Church at the moment – the concentration on things that don’t matter and missing the things that do,’ she said.

‘What is pitiful as well as demeaning is that the Church is running after homosexual opinion but nothing is going to make homosexuals like the Catholic Church.

‘This is because the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a disorder and whatever the bishops say will not change that.’

Of course this isn’t a secular agenda. This is how the Church reacts to its member. Fair play to the Bishops in my opinion. It is about time the Church addressed it followers on this and actually supported them.

This post actually gives a nice follow in for me to introduce an interesting site for Lesbian and Gay Christians, LGBT Christians. Their aim is to “bring Christ to those who have been alienated by those organisations that claim to be his Church and claim to preach his love and yet through ignorance and misconception preach not love to Gods lesbian, gay and bisexual children” and “seek to create an atmosphere of understanding between those who think that homosexuality has no place in Christs Church and those who think they do”

To quote John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Do check them out.

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Did we get it wrong on the Pope?

Pope Benedict XVI during visit to São Paulo, B...Image via WikipediaTallyman as an excellent post pointing out that the mainstream media and many blogs (including me!) got the Pope’s message wrong. Now I was working from what was reported in the media considering the Pope’s speech was in Latin.

Tallyman points out that there was “nothing new” in the speech but that the Pope was “following some very simplistic, narrow logic”. As he points out the “Pope regularly says things like this. This is something that we all understand to be Roman Catholic doctrine. How many gays still attend Church knowing this?”. I, like him, know lots!

The most important part in Tallyman’s post is when he points out that the Pope “does not single out the gay community in his New Years message.” (Emphasis his). In fact he points out the over arching theme of the message which was“Fighting Poverty to build Peace” which is a good idea.

He goes to point out that the Pope mainly called for teaching of abstinence to be considered a way of halting the spread of diseases, such as AIDS, and connects these diseases to poverty. Now while some people disagree with this way of halting the spread of AIDS, it must be admitted that it is one of halting the spread of the disease.

Tallyman concludes with the following

So, in one line the Pope has incensed the Gays, the Greens and certain sections of the media to declare him as inciting hatred. The Pope stuck to Catholic (albeit misguided dogma) in relation to what it deems to be a natural order. It didn’t tell all good Catholics to shun their homosexual neighbours, disown their homosexual children, or rise up in revolt against governments legislating for civil partnership. He asked us to me good Christians, to be mindful of the poor in this festive season and combat corruption and immorality in the name of the poor.

I don’t really see the harm in that.

So this to me seams to be logical, so why then did the Mainstream media take up the Pope’s message wrong? Why were we led to believe that he was equating Homosexuality with Climate Change?

While I am no fan of the Pope, I don’t think it is right that when he says something, it is misrepresented. As Tallyman puts it “i find any distortion of the Pope’s message by LGBT groups, the media, and those looking for a sound-byte, a bit rich, worrying, and it has to be said, gay.” Sentiments I agree with completely.

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"Humanity must be saved"

Pope Benedictus XVIImage via WikipediaFrom the gays??? What? Really? We are responsible for the downturn in humanity? Has the Pope been having chats with Fred Phelps?

I am amazed and disgusted. I find myself in complete agreement with the headline from Froodie’s blog “Pope Benedict incites hatred, misunderstanding and probable bullying and violence.”.

While I know a lot of Catholics don’t agree with the Church on everything but this does not help in anyway. A lot of elderly people do listen to the Pope for advice and guidance and him saying things like this do not help.

It is a step back for the Church in general. I have a lot of respect for individual priests who hold differing views then the Pope, but this will not help those Catholics who are gay and still hold the Church in high regard.

Other blogs have reacted in various ways to this declaration. Iain Dale thinks the Pope should “Just Join the BNP & Have Done With It“. Una of Unarocks points out that the Pope is teaching the wrong stuff and should be concentrating on “Love” a very good point! Also she points out

On one hand, i suppose, you can laugh this stuff off- who gives a fuck? Who cares what an old repressed dude in a wine dress says? Surely if you get pissed off by this it legitimises his statement as something worth listening to? Then on the other hand, this is a man with huge power and influence and a massive willing and listening audience who believes ten per cent of the population is evil.

And I agree with her fully on that point!

I love Joe Scanlon‘s post title on this issue “Plant a Tree – Shoot a fag” which basically could sum up the Pope’s speech to some people!

As the papers point out (Irish Indo and UK Times) “The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are”. So they think the fact that you are gay is not sin (yay, therefore not a choice) but we can choose to ignore it! Really? You can ignore the fact that you have fallen in LOVE? I don’t think so. Having actually experienced true love for another man, it is an overpowering experience (as it is for anyone I would assume straight or gay) that hits you. It cannot be ignored. Yet this “ancient institution” expects us do so. No thank you! There is reason I CHOOSE to no longer to be considered a Catholic. I CHOOSE no longer to be associated with comments such as this or the on earlier this year from a high ranking Vatican Official that called homosexuality “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound”.

An issue that most of these posts and my comments so far are on the issue of transgender which the Pope also tosses into the mix. He opposes Gender Theory and said

“That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator,” the Pope said.

“Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.”

Wow! Even Iran is more ahead then the Catholic Church on Transgendered issues when it espousing beliefs such as this.

The Church needs to get a grip and move with the times. The Church is losing membership and it wonders why? The Church has to be seen to approach issues with a modern mindset, something it has failed to do since the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

I wonder what he will complain about next Christmas? Single mothers?

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Palin and Homosexuality

Palin seams to get a lot of bad press lately about her attitudes towards homosexuality, but those of you who pay attention to my google shared items or my friendfeed would have seen that Gaypatriot.com have an excellent post on Palin and her ACTUAL position on homosexuality. The video is below, but do read the original post also.

So, while I disagree with how the whole choice thing comes across, but maybe she does think like Bruce comments, that she means choice to come out. So that is the Presidential Candidate and Vice Presidential with good attitudes towards homosexuality!