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Constitutional Convention this weekend April 12, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Irish Politics, LGBT Rights, Same-sex marriage.

Spoilt for pictures of empty halls today.

Meeting is to report recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on making a constitutional provision for same-sex marriage begins tomorrow. Likely to be one of the more robust sessions.

Full program available here with streaming here from 9.40am.

Representatives from GLEN, ICCL, Marriage Equality, Bishops Conference, Evangelical Alliance and Order of the Knights of St.Columbanus all make presentations. With Carol Coulter, David Quinn, Colm O’Gorman and others making up a panel later in the afternoon.

Video of previous sessions available here


1. Tomboktu - April 12, 2013

I don’t know how a member of the Convention could do the job thoroughly. By the closing date of 18 March, there had been about 800 submissions on same-sex marriage (that has gone up to 1077 today). The total number of submissions on all topics to date is 1315.

I see that Marriage Equality has included the son of a same-sex couple as one of the speakers in the plenary. I wonder why the name of the speaker(s) for the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has not been published.


2. Tomboktu - April 12, 2013

Oh, and…

if we introduced a proposal to make same-sex marriage compulsory, do you think the Christian opponents might settle for a law allowing people to choose to have one as a half-way compromise?


3. doctorfive - April 12, 2013

What do you think of the priests “could no longer carry out the civil element” line? Bluff?

It’s interesting though, the notion of traditional marriage. It has a very long history and a lot of it isn’t the wholesome arrangement we’re presented with now. Redefined quite a few times to get where it is or perceived to be now.

Good piece here from last year if anyone missed it



Tomboktu - April 12, 2013

Personally, I wouldn’t mind if RC priests no longer performed civil marriages. It would be a bit of a pain for the Department of Social Protection though: it would increase the workload of the civil registrars, approximately threefold


4. smiffy - April 12, 2013

“What do you think of the priests “could no longer carry out the civil element” line? Bluff?”

It’s complete and utter shit, but it’s in line with the argument that’s being put about at the moment, that introducing marriage for same-sex couples will somehow diminish the status of marriages which currently exist. It’s the tripe that Susan Phillips was pushing on Prime Time a few weeks back, explaining that she had no problem with the gay sorts having their “friendships”, but why can’t they leave her and her marriage of hatefulness alone. It’s almost as if, to her, the most important thing about her marriage is that other people can’t have it. Delightful woman.

Of course, introducing same-sex marriage doesn’t impact on any other marriage in the least. In that regard, it’s different from the introduction of divorce, 20-odd years ago (scary thought that it’s been that long). At that time, the change to the laws really did amend the nature of marriages that actually existed in Ireland, but that was a price well-worth paying. But the change to the nature of civil marriage then didn’t mean that priests couldn’t carry out civil marriages any more. And it didn’t result in priests being forced to perform marriages on divorcees, any more than they’d forced to preside over same-sex marriages. It’d be nice if they did, obviously, but as long as they wish to be bigots, they’ll retain the ability to do so.


Tomboktu - April 12, 2013

There are two issues in that mix. Techincally (“pedantically”?), I didn’t answer doctorfive’s question, in which the verb was “could”. I dealt with the different question of “would” — the RC bishops have strongly hinted that the Church would no longer perform civil marriages if the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted (paragraph 29 of the submission of the Council for Marriage and the Family of the lrish Catholic Bishops’ Conference):

Any change to the definition of marriage would create great difficulties and in the light of this if there were two totally different definitions of marriage the Church could no longer carry out the civil element


Tomboktu - April 12, 2013

it’s different from the introduction of divorce, 20-odd years ago (scary thought that it’s been that long)

You’re putting years on yourself. The referendum was in November 1995.


doctorfive - April 13, 2013
Tomboktu - April 13, 2013

Aha, so their graces are using the word “could” to mean the same thing I mean when I use the word “would”.


5. Tomboktu - April 13, 2013

After last night’s chat about this (above), it occurred to me that I may have been limited in my reading of what the Catholic bishops are saying and hinting. There are other possible implications of their position.

One could also be that they may seek to instruct Roman Catholic civil servants not to perform same-sex civil marriages. A related issue has arisen in some other countries, and if I remember correctly, religious staff in marriage offices were told they do not have a religious exemption.

A second possibility, not suggested by the wording “could no longer carry out”, but which might be taken froma strict reading of the reasoning of their theory, is that they might instruct Roman Catholic couples not to have a civil marriage.

And it is possible that I am reading too much into it and they have not thought of either of those possibilities or, if they have, do not intend to pursue either.


EWI - April 14, 2013

One could also be that they may seek to instruct Roman Catholic civil servants not to perform same-sex civil marriages.

Indeed. Look to the US, which is where our very good RC friends in the media are deriving inspiration (and money, probably).


6. Tomboktu - April 14, 2013

Hints from Bishop Leo Kiernan that they have a wider plan in mind than simply having priests ceasing to register civil marriages.


doctorfive - April 14, 2013

Was yerman really suggesting it’s a threat to a united Ireland at 18.00


7. doctorfive - April 14, 2013


8. Tomboktu - April 14, 2013

The statement issued by the Convention is below.

Notable are (a) the size of the support for lifting the ban — 79 percent; and (b) the strength of support for the ‘directive’ option: the Constitution should be changed to require that law be changed to allow same-sex couples get married, not simply changed to permit the Oireachtas to change the law.

Convention on the Constitution Votes in favour of Same Sex Marriage

14th April, 2013: The Convention on the Constitution met over two days this weekend to report recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on constitutional provision for same-sex marriage.

The Convention decided to recommend that the Constitution be changed to allow for civil marriage for same-sex couples by:
* Yes – 79%
* No – 19%
* No opinion – 1%

The members of the Convention were also asked what form the amendment should take. Delegates were given the option of voting that the amendment be:
* permissive (‘the State may enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’);
* directive (‘the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’);

On this matter the Convention decided:
* Permissive – 17%
* Directive – 78%
* No opinion – 1%

A final question asked delegates if they agreed, disagreed or had no opinion that ‘having regard to the changed arrangements in relation to marriage, the State shall enact laws incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children’.

On this question the Convention decided:
* Yes – 81%
* No – 12%
* No opinion – 2%

A report will now be drafted and the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention will now go to Government.

After the report is officially sent to the Oireachtas, the Government are committed to responding within four months by way of a debate in the Oireachtas and if it agrees with the recommendation to amend the Constitution, to include a timeframe for a referendum.
Chairman of the Constitutional Convention, Mr Tom Arnold, said:

“I would like to thank all of the participants who contributed to the Constitutional Convention’s same-sex marriage discussion. I am very pleased that proceedings were conducted in a fair and transparent manner with all sides getting an opportunity to make
their respective cases. This weekend’s discussions have been both passionate and thoughtful, both heartfelt and rigorous.”

“Throughout this process, citizens were actively encouraged to engage with the issue of same-sex marriage and make their views known through the website and by other means. There was an unprecedented response from the public and over 1000 submissions were considered by the Convention.”

“Following this outcome, we will now be lodging a formal report with Government notifying them of the recommendation of the Convention regarding same-sex marriage in Ireland.”

The next meeting of the Constitutional Convention will consider the Dáil electoral system and the way in which we elect our politicians.


9. Stephen Spillane's Blog - April 14, 2013

[…] Constitutional Convention this weekend (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]


10. doctorfive - April 18, 2013

Child Trends have written to the Convention about the misuse of their research.

April 4, 2013
The Honorable Art O’Leary
Constitutional Convention
16 Parnell Square East
Dublin, Ireland
Dear Sir:

Child Trends, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center focused on children and youth issues. It has come to our attention that our 2002 Research Brief, “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We do about It?” has been referenced in testimony submitted for the upcoming Convention on the subject of same-sex marriage.

We would like to submit to the Convention proceedings the following note about this research:

This Child Trends brief summarizes research conducted prior to 2002, when neither
same-sex parents nor adopted parents were identified in large national surveys.
Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of
children raised by same-sex partners or adoptive parents.

Please note that the paragraph above precedes the brief on our website.

Child Trends has a 30-year history of providing credible research to the U.S. government, state governments, foundations and nonprofit organizations. We are guided only by the findings of our research, and not aligned on either end of the political spectrum. We trust any review of our 2002 report on Family Structure and Children will take into account the scope of the research and not be misconstrued to advance one side or another of the same-sex marriage issue.

Carol Emig
Child Trends

Kristin A. Moore, Ph.D.
Senior Scholar
Child Trends


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