The meeting opened with a short spiritual story about a lady who was locked in a lift for a long number of hours. When she was rescued she was very calm. She said she wasn’t worried because she knew where she was – the same place as usual – in the company of the Lord!
The meeting was called to discuss the Marriage Referendum. It was agreed that the cases for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ positions would be examined against a background of what information the members were aware of. Some background notes had been circulated before the meeting and were made available. Sources included: the Constitution Public Service Information, Lawyers for Yes, Irish Catholic Bishops, Various Individual Bishops, Lat Late Show Debate, Prime Time Debate,, ISPCC AND referendum Commission.
The discussion was wide ranging with an emphasis on the current legal and possible future legal situation. Some felt that the social and moral issues needed more attention. Key questions that were addressed including the following:
* the difference between Marriage and Civil Partnerships. It was noted that the Constitution didn’t define Marriage but the courts interpret it as being between a man and a woman.
* the position of Children in same sex marriage – by definition they have to forgo living with one of their natural parents in a same sex family. This of course is true at present is same sex partnerships.
* the dilemma of whether a same sex marriage is good for a child or not good for a child, good in that they can say their parents are married – not good in that they have two fathers or two mothers as it were. Or will fathers and mothers become just parents in the future?
* It was felt that there should be a possibility for the child to have a say in their parent situation. It was important that they would at least be able to know who their natural parents were. It was noted that under the 2015 Children and Family Relationship Act a register of natural parents is required with access allowed to the child.
Some felt there had been huge changes in marriage in recent times- the increase of marriageable age from 12 and 14 to 18, the equal rights and status of women in marriage, divorce and separation, adoption policies, The question of people with marriages in other jurisdictions not being recognised in Ireland. We wondered if the referendum is passed will the Church continue to act as civil registrar.
There were opposite views as to whether IVF and surrogacy should be part of the consideration. It was felt that surrogacy involving financial benefits was problematic Some felt we should have a society where there was a natural right to a natural family. We noted that older people seem to have a different view on same sex than younger people because they grew up in a different world. Recent polls show 82% of 18 to 24 year olds on the yes side compared with 32% of 65+ year olds.
The Referendum Commission pamphlet states that There is redefinition of marriage- presumably because there is no definition now! It was noted that most of the Children’s Charities are supporting a yes vote – a case of group think?
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday June 10th 2015.