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This Ireland: Gay Marriage and the Irish Times… a debate of sorts… January 17, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Ireland.


How interesting the debate on ‘gay marriage’ in the Irish Times on Monday. How rarified. How informative. How useful. Or not… For under the heading ‘Should the State sanction gay marriage?’ in the (natch) Head2Head column Tony Allwright, engineering and industrial safety consultant, ‘blogger’ (and prodigious contributor to the Irish Times letters page) debates Eloise McInerney, communications officer of LGBT Noise, a group set up last November to lobby for gay civil marriage in Ireland.

Now, it will hardly come as a surprise to you that around here we’re in favour of gay civil marriage. It’s not that we buy into social liberalism unquestioningly, simply that this is an issue where the way forward is straightforward.

But these are mere trifles compared to the discourse on the pages of the IT. I won’t go into the points made on either side, at this stage – and for shame the Irish Times being so far behind the curve – I’d bet most people have a fairly good sense of their stance on this issue. But Mr. Allwrights thoughts are entirely worthy of parsing out…

Civil union, civil partnership, gay marriage. It’s all the talk, these days. Unless you’re one of those (say in the Vatican) who believe homosexuality is some kind of curable disease, or else a fun lifestyle choice like drinking wine instead of beer, you would have to feel sorry for the plight of gays and lesbians in a hetero world.

How about this?

A tiny minority wherever they go, often – and wrongly – despised, disliked or disparaged, whether to their face or not, I doubt they can ever feel fully comfortable except amongst fellow-gays.

One is immediately and unambiguously reminded of De Valera’s ability to look into his own heart to see what the Irish people were thinking. But do continue:

…a question immediately follows: what’s so special about a partnership that’s gay? If gays are to benefit, there are plenty of other partnerships that should also be considered: two elderly brothers who have shared a house all their lives; a spinster daughter and/or bachelor son living with their widowed mother; lifetime bridge partners who have long shared a home together; celibate gays; three siblings.

And the societal ramifications?

…numerous studies [unreferenced by our intrepid correspondent] demonstrate that kids have a better chance in life if reared by their married biological parents. This is society’s return for the tax breaks. Thus, the practical argument against gay marriage is that without the possibility of children, marital tax concessions have little payback.

It is true, however, that availability of gay marriage might help reduce promiscuity among gays, but although this may be intrinsically beneficial to society, it is not comparable with raising responsible future citizens.

Those pesky promiscuous gays – eh? One is amazed only by the fact that the word ‘the’ is missing after the word ‘among’. And here is an horrific prospect…

Once you move away from the one-man-one- woman formula, the possible permutations become limitless. The one thing that would distinguish gay partnerships from all the others is that sex is involved, albeit fruitless sex. But that is a ridiculous prerequisite for tax breaks.

Hmmm… hold on a second… So we take it then that only ‘fruitful’ sex is a suitable precondition of marriage… that seems to raise a whole raft of issues. But hold up, deftly swerving away from that wreck, there’s another reason…

Without discriminating in favour of gay sex, it will be impossible to stop two people hitching up for purely tax purposes, or indeed three or four. In jurisdictions – such as the UK – which have granted significant tax advantages to gay couples in civil unions, it is only a matter of time before non-gay couples claim and obtain similar rights. It’s already happening.

It’s only a matter of time, but… it’s already happening… Right so. And…

The “equal rights” argument does not hold water because gays already have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex; they just usually choose not to, albeit for understandable reasons.

Okay…. and this is presumably an argument based simply on financial issues…

So, for all the understanding gays deserve, any kind of statutory non-traditional marriage for them or anyone else is insupportable and unjust. It’s either too discriminatory against non-gays, or else too wide open to abuse by tax-dodgers.

Resultant tax concessions would, in the absence of any discernible payback, unjustly increase the tax burden on others. Non-marital vows and commitments are personal arrangements. The State has no business getting involved.

QED. Still, I note that somehow this argument about ‘marriage with fruitful sex between men and women’ doesn’t preclude the state from getting involved when those seeking it are siblings or other relatives and yet…somehow…the appalling (yet to my mind entertaining) vista painted by Mr. Allwright doesn’t come into play. Odd that.


Incidentally if one follows the link so conveniently provided in the Irish Times for Tony Allwright one will discover, rather than his blog, a page detailing his contributions present and future to the world of engineering and industrial safety [to add to something that was raised yesterday on a thread, Pete implicitly made the point about whether people are qualified to post on blogs, or rather why should what is said be taken as read. It may seem strange but I completely agree… blogging isn’t journalism, it’s largely opinion even if people do try to reference – as I think we do here – and at the end of the day that means that information on blogs or from bloggers has to be evaluated with extreme care or taken with a large pinch of salt]. Discreetly positioned to the right hand side is the link to the blog. I’m certain this imprecision is a simple typographic mistake. Still, it makes me look forward to the day when, no doubt, there will be no complaints when the Cedar Lounge Revolution website is nested within that of my new company, WorldbyStorm Window Glazing Enterprises, and when said Enterprises are advertised – in passing, of course – on any future appearances on Newstalk by contributors from here as “The Cedar Lounge… revolution and reform sponsored by WBS Window Glazing Enterprises”


1. Phil - January 17, 2008

The “equal rights” argument does not hold water because gays already have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex

Dear God. I’ve just remembered hearing that line once before, from a particularly bone-headed Tory over here. It reaches a level of stupidity that’s actively irritating (how could a person even think to the end of that sentence?) I’d erased it from my memory and will try to do so again.


2. Hugh Green - January 17, 2008

The one thing that would distinguish gay partnerships from all the others is that sex is involved, albeit fruitless sex

Au contraire, if one is speaking Polari.


3. Niall - January 17, 2008

I think this Tony Allwright chap has a point, just not the one he thinks he is making. Homosexuals and Heterosexuals do have the same rights in regards marriage. It just ‘happens’ that these laws impact negatively more often on the minority group. However, marriage laws also impact negatively on a heterosexual couple who want to marry but cannot because they are siblings. For example, the couple in the UK who discovered they were brother and sister and then decided to separate did not receive a divorce – their marriage was deemed never to have existed. That ruling would have come about whether they had wanted to continue their marriage or not.

Why the heck o we need civil marriage at all? Why are we placing sexual relationships between a (non-related) man and woman above other sexual and non-sexual relationships? Traditional answers to this question would have mentioned children but the number of children born outside of marriages in the modern world means that these arguments hold little weight. The next-of-kin status, inheritance rights and tax breaks that are awarded upon the recognition of a marriage could be of use to those outside of traditional marriage relationships, or even sexual or romantic relationships.

I like the idea of civil unions, I’d just like to see marriage as a legal status abolished first.


4. WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2008

Oddly enough that’s something I think is worthy of further thought. Marriage as a construct seems to depend upon a credibility given to it through religious and societal usage quite at odds with contemporary life. In a sense it is the civil union (marriage certificate) which now validates it rather than those other meanings or usages. Which means theoretically one could be detached entirely from the other, still leaving ‘marriage’ as a religious ritual or indeed as any union of that type, but not forcing it into the pre-existing framework…Interesting…


5. Craig - January 18, 2008

“It’s not that we buy into social liberalism unquestioningly”

Hmm, out of curiosity, what parts of this ideology do you not buy into?


6. WorldbyStorm - January 18, 2008

Speaking for myself I actually understand that people are hesitant or even hostile in the face of changes. Therefore such changes can take time. Beyond that process led critique of unquestioning social liberalism I’d argue that issues should stand or fall on their merits, case by case. What about you?


7. Craig - January 22, 2008

Well, it can be hard enough to define social liberalism, but generally I do not see the greatest of value in it. It is certainly not the kind of inevitable and eternally good thing that some people view it as. And the consequences of it can sometimes be more negative than positive. But as you said, issues need to be viewed on their own merits – as long as one has a moral compass handy. “Live and let live” doesn’t always work as a social guideline.


8. Tony Allwright - January 22, 2008

The Irish Times, without asking me, provided a web-link, but an incomplete one. They provided the link to my business site. Normally that, and my blog, are completely separate and unlinked to each other. However after the IT’s mistake, I had to incorporate a temporary link within my business site to my blog, a link I will remove before long.

My blog, “ill-informed and objectionable” as a reader once kindly advised me, can be found at http://www.tallrite.com/blog.htm


9. WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2008

I suspected as much Tony.


10. david - November 13, 2008

gays should get the fuck outta Ireland
keep it clean
and seriously, marriage is something that you can create a family for yourself,
if your gays and want to stay together, its a union, and definitely not a marraige


11. Adam - December 16, 2008

Only FULL EQUALITY in respect to ‘marriage’ is acceptable. Anything less is simply discriminatory and unfair!

As irish citizens, the same employment, marital, parental and social rights should be afforded to LGBTs that heterosexual citizens currently take for granted. They are entitled to them and the state should provide them! I am in favour of Civil Marriages that afford LGBT families/couples all of the same rights as heterosexual marriages.

All forms of ‘marriage’ should be supported. Children are better off with 2 parents, male or female or both! That is a fact and cannot be denied!

Here’s a suggesion though: how about stripping all current heterosexual marriages of their status and denying those families the very rights that gays and lesbians are denied .. It would at least make us all equal!

Go raibh míle maith agaibh.


12. Debbie Needleman - March 4, 2010


I am a photo researcher trying to locate the cartoon featured in your article for use in a college textbook. Any information you may have concerning the cartoonist or source of the image would be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much.


WorldbyStorm - March 4, 2010

Seriously can’t remember! Sorry.


13. Debbie Needleman - March 4, 2010

Thanks. . . I appreciate you getting back to me.


14. gypsybhoy - March 4, 2010


I’ve moved on from being just Gypsy (id already taken on wp) because after being around here for a while, I wanted my own picture. Sad or what?
I’m maintaining anonymity for work reasons but think WBS knows who I am even if we haven’t met in the flesh.


WorldbyStorm - March 4, 2010

Tis true… I’m pretty sure we did meet many years ago…


15. Dr. X - March 4, 2010

How do you add a photo?


16. gypsybhoy - March 4, 2010

You need to open a wordpress a/c and then add one in your profile.


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