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Monday, May 4, 2015

Marriage referendum

A chara, – Carol Coulter writes: “At the moment surrogacy is not legal in Ireland” (“Why surrogacy has nothing to do with same-sex marriage”, Opinion & Analysis, April 27th). This is incorrect. Surrogacy is neither forbidden nor regulated by Irish law. There is no Irish legislation to cover the legal issues arising from surrogacy, which is perhaps the meaning she intended.

She also writes: “[Surrogacy] has nothing to do with the right of same-sex couples to marry.” This is true, if we set our standard as stated in the referendum proposal, “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” Then it is just as true to say that conception and birth of a child have nothing to do with the right of a man and woman to marry.

In the proposed scenario, one or more persons without distinction as to their sex may avail of surrogacy or adoption to acquire a child. A married man and woman usually have an extra possibility, to conceive a child just between themselves. This inequality arises from human nature. In this, equality cannot be provided by any positive human law. Childlessness may bring deep sorrow. Acquisition of a child, however, is not a right that anybody has.

Ms Coulter writes: “However, there is no evidence to link surrogacy to gay marriage.” On the contrary, apart from adoption or fostering, a gay couple has no option other than surrogacy in order to acquire a child.

Ms Coulter rightly says of a number of European countries which ban surrogacy: “There are good reasons for their concern about the use of surrogacy in family formation, particularly in relation to the possible exploitation of the surrogate mothers and inattention to the rights of children to their identity.”

I would add also concern about possible creeping commodification of human procreation. It is vital that our Government keeps those good reasons to the fore as they consider the matter. – Is mise,


Dublin 16.

Sir, – The Constitution is a living instrument, designed to evolve the societal norms of the day. Society has not remained the same since 1937.

If we were to stick to the society envisaged in 1937, we would still have Magdalene laundries for single mothers, no separation or divorce, no protection of women’s rights against domestic violence in the home, women would have to leave public service employment when they got married, and it would be illegal to be a homosexual. While I agree with Hugh Gibney (April 28th) that civil rights for LGBTI people were not envisaged in 1937, that cannot be taken to mean that LGBTI people were not deserving of them in 1937 and are not deserving of them today. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 15.

Sir, – The notion is around that some in favour of traditional marriage have an outdated, idealised vision to recover a golden age of traditional marriage and the family. I doubt it. What is more likely is that not a few are struggling to hold on to what we believe is the God-given nature of marriage, but that those who oppose this are looking for a golden age of freedom from all religious or moral inhibition and restraint. – Yours, etc,


Gorey, Co Wexford.

Sir, – Having been in a different-sex marriage for 35 years I propose that the marriage referendum be referred to as the marriage equality referendum. All this emphasis on one aspect of a relationship is driving some of the No campaigners into a frenzy of misplaced piety. – Yours, etc,



Co Fermanagh.

Sir, – As an Irish citizen viewing the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum from the distance of continental Europe, I feel obliged to point out that no matter what the outcome of the referendum, there will be great disappointment on the losing side. For that reason I would hope that the rhetoric which will follow the result will be neither triumphalist nor go as far as to imply that voters lacked the intelligence to make the “correct” decision.

Whatever the outcome on the day, it will have been the decision made by the majority of those who actively engaged with the issue as citizens by entering the polling booth.

Campaigns on issues as divisive as same-sex marriage have the tendency to often bring out the worst on both sides; for the sake of our nation’s future let it be hoped that the validity of the referendum’s outcome be accepted by one and all and not be the cause for further disconnect between the various strata of Irish society. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Through the miasma of conflicting words in the marriage referendum debate comes clarity in John Donne’s words – “For God’s sake hold thy tongue and let me love”. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

Sir, – I share Sarah Bailey’s anger (April 28th) at the referendum posters of the “A child needs a mother AND a father” ilk. As a widowed single parent these posters make me extremely angry at those who paid for them and put them up.

I believe the referendum is about marriage equality and that issues like this are completely irrelevant to the real issue. But I shall revel in a resounding Yes vote, not just for the correct reason, but also to tell these terrible people that they are wasting their time demeaning families like mine. Single parents and their children are equal already and the vast majority of the country accepted that long ago.

Maybe we should put some of these posters in our museums to remind ourselves how far we have come. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.


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