Irish Vote Deprives Children of Right to have a Mother and a Father

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 May 2015

US same sex lobbyists behind $US16 million in funds for Irish campaign for marriage equality

Changing the legislated meaning of marriage, changes the meaning of parenting under the law, says Chris Meney, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The success of the "yes vote" to amend Ireland's constitution and legalise same-sex marriage was a reminder that even with the best of motives, we can all make decisions which will have bad consequences, he says.

"When you change how people must describe, speak about and teach on marriage, you lay the ground for creeping totalitarianism," he warns.

"As has been seen in other jurisdictions, people who refuse to comply with this re-engineered understanding of marriage are increasingly brought into line by the power of the state. Dissenting opinion is quelled and the Christian understanding of marriage and family over millennia is portrayed as bigoted," he says.

Chris Meney Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Sydney

At the weekend Ireland became the first nation worldwide to hold a national referendum on same- sex marriage. The Yes vote came in at 62.1 percent against a no vote of 37.9 percent.

However the 1,201,607 votes in favour of marriage equality and the 734,000 no-votes cast represent just 60.5 percent of the Irish population with just under 2 million of the electorate choosing not to vote.

"Changes always result in adverse effects, particularly where children are concerned, and changing the public meaning of marriage is always a bad decision," Mr Meney warns. "Not only does the legalisation of same-sex marriage normalise the way we think of family and a family structure, but intentionally deprives children of something very precious and to which they are entitled: a mum and a dad."

Even when some family lives do not go as planned and break ups and single parent situations result, a society has the responsibility to do what it can to ensure that every child has the opportunity to experience the love and care of their own mother and father, he says.

A traditional family of a mother and father remains a fundamental teaching of the Catholic church

"Whenever any state says that marriage is all about adult preferences and that it does not matter who raises a child, then that state is doing an injustice to children. And injustices always have bad effects," he says.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Marriage Act recognises that marriage is "a union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life."

The interpretation of marriage between a man and a woman for the procreation, protection and raising of children predates Christianity by several centuries and has long been one of the enduring bedrocks of society.

The popular vote in Ireland on marriage equality will almost certainly put the debate about same-sex marriage front and centre once more and is expected to yet again give rise to more bills being brought before state and federal parliaments to legalise same-sex marriage.

Even under subsequent governments a referendum on the issue, which was ruled out by Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday, is unlikely. While changes to the Constitution require a referendum, this is not the case with the Marriage Act which falls under the jurisdiction of Parliament.

"Comparing the Irish referendum with a referendum in Australia is like comparing apples and oranges. The process is very different," says Rocco Mimmo, a leading Sydney lawyer and founder of the Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty.

"Voting in Australia is compulsory and for any referendum a majority of votes in a majority of states and territories is required," he says.

For Mr Mimmo, the success of the yes-vote in the weekend's Irish referendum is troubling on several grounds.

Under Australian Federal Law a Marriage is between one man and one woman

Even though just over 60 percent of the electorate voted on the referendum, he says the vote nevertheless shows a sharp decline in the authority of the Catholic Church in a country where more than 82 percent identify themselves as Catholic.

He is also troubled by the fact that even though those against marriage equality had based their campaign on the rights of each child to have a mother and a father, this seemed to have had little impact.

"Clearly the people who voted were not persuaded by the argument," he says.

But perhaps most worryingly of all was the amount of international funding behind Ireland's yes-vote campaign, including a reported $AUD20.5 million from America's pro-same-sex marriage lobby and gay, lesbian and transgender activists.

"Proponents of same-sex marriage are an international movement which has very strong organisational abilities and very deep pockets. In America millions are raised each year to fight court cases on behalf of same-sex marriage litigants and to support campaigns in other countries," he says.

Along with making money available to campaigns for marriage equality worldwide, proponents of same-sex marriage are adept at using social media to raise awareness of their cause and lobby for votes.

"Clearly in the case of Ireland's referendum their campaign was far superior than opponents of marriage equality," he says.

Rocco Mimmo founder and chairman of the Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty

Also troubled by the amount of funding to support Ireland's yes-vote is the Australian Christian Lobby, and concerned that the redefining of marriage movement in Ireland has ignored or downplayed the rights and interests of children.

"Marriage equality abolishes in law and culture the idea that wherever possible children have a right to a mother and father," says Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. "If gender matters for company boards and jury selection, then how can we deny that it matters when it comes to parenting?"

Late last week former deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan reversed his position on same-sex marriage. This follows Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek's controversial call in April for Labor to adopt same-sex marriage as part of its platform at next month's Labor Conference. If adopted, which is believed to be unlikely, instead of a conscience vote this would compel Labor MPs to vote in favour of same-sex marriage whatever their electorate's or their own personal objections.

Cross Bencher Senator David Leyonjhelm's Freedom of Marriage Bill is also expected to be debated by Federal Parliament when he tables the Bill later this year.

Few listened to Irish campaign against marriage equality and the impact on children

Despite Ireland's referendum on Saturday, same-sex marriage will not become law until Ireland's Parliament amends the Constitution. This is expected to take place within the next two months, when Ireland will become the 19th nation worldwide to make marriages between same-sex couples legal.

Among the world's nations where same sex marriage is now legal are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Iceland, France, Mexico, Denmark, Argentina, South Africa and Canada. In the US the Federal Government recognises same-sex marriages as do 38 of America's 50.

In April this year, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether a state may refuse to license same-sex marriages and whether a state may refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. A decision is expected towards the end of next month.