Ireland is having a national convention to examine her 1937 constitution including allowing same sex marriage which is at present prohibited.
Mr Gay Ireland 2013 Robert Obara has on behalf of the Mr Gay Ireland rights and HIV charity event written to the chairman of The Constitution Convention to address the matter of marriage equality for gay men and women.
Here is a copy of the letter that Robert sent, both for enlightment and inspiration:
Mr Tom Arnold, Chairman
The Constitution Convention
16 Parnell Square East
March 13th 2013
In reference to your call for submissions on the issue of marriage equality, we in Mr Gay Ireland a national event to promote the positive gay identity as a response to high young male suicide rates in rural Ireland and to raise much needed funds to resource HIV health services, write to confirm that we are totally in favour of all committed, consenting adults being allowed to marry the partner of their choice, without distinction of gender. We urge and expect our Constitution to vindicate that right.
The debate for marriage equality and respect for love, has been driven, in the main, by minority interests and this is somewhat an unfair burden. In order to move forward this debate, that has the potential to positively affect all adults, we must take regard of the change in marriage practice in recent decades including separation, divorce and international law.
For example in Canada, there is only once marriage law and in Ireland we refuse to recognise only certain valid Canadian marriages, not all, affirmed under that law. Men and women who get married to each other in Canada are legally married here, whereas same sex couples married under the identical law, without distinction, are not recognised. The same is true for other States who value and recognises the love of their citizens equally. That must be an unparalleled anomaly between two democracies?
The establishment in law of a lesser form of partnership, through the Civil Partnership and Cohabitants legislation, is something no society can too be proud of, in its ambition for a society built on equality and respect. This law builds in stigma and embeds a lesser status for certain adult relationships, negatively affecting LGBT people and their children, for the first time since decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993. The work of the Convention can address this discrimination and this embedding of a lesser status in law.
The current legal difficulties around marriage and, for example, the potential necessity for transgendered people, to be forcibly divorced, if they are to be acknowledged in their accurate gender, is an attack on marriage, that goes too far. For a nation that recently struggled with the concept of divorce, to now propose forced divorce for transgendered people, is a symptom of a marriage provision that does not reflect the needs and practices of a modern diverse society.
One thing is certain, bad law makes for worse law and more and more legal difficulties are emerging, as the 1937 definition, does not reflect the diversity of love and family life, that enriches and stabilises Irish society today, without full legal protection.
Our recommendation is that the onus for change should not rest on minorities to pursue equality of treatment. It should rest on all of us and in that, rather than debate the strangely titled concept of ‘gay marriage’ or ‘gay adoption’, the Constitution should be simply amended to reflect the commitment of marriage between two consenting adults and their right to have children, rather than to rely on an inadequate and narrow gender constructed definition. In short, take the language of man and woman out of the text and replace it with what the rest of the laws require – the consent of two adults, who are in love.
Marriage should be the legal affirmation of the commitment of two consenting adults and that is a concept that we believe will attract more support and make any proposed change relevant to everyone. Such a change would still probably allow Churches to discriminate against all adults in love that they don’t approve of, if they wish – that’s for another debate. But the State in any democracy must stand by all of its citizens. At the moment, shamefully, it does not do so. This is an opportunity for positive and inclusive change that must be actioned.
The State must provide for the legal and equal recognition of all adult loving relationships, as it should do for all of its citizens equally in any new amendment of the Constitution. The onus on any democratic pluralist society, is to include more people in the embrace of respectful law, not to exclude, as the current gender reliant provision does. The benefit for society will be the existence of more stable, loving family units which will love, respect, care and provide for each other – a cornerstone of a better future for all, in a diverse and respectful Ireland of equals.
Mr Gay Ireland 2013