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Fr Brendan Purcell concerned for the constitution

18 May, 2015


From tandem to time bomb:
the unravelling of the Irish Constitution by Same Sex Marriage

By Fr Brendan Purcell

The Sydney Morning Herald did a piece on 37 western quolls — a small carnivorous marsupial — being reinstated in the Flinders ranges, South Australia, 100 years after they’d become extinct there.

We all understand how important it is to protect severely endangered species. But there’s also what Pope Benedict XVI called human ecology, and the development in the West of marriage as between a man and woman for life is surely a radically endangered reality in Western culture and in Ireland today.

That photo a week or so ago of the tiny Princess Charlotte with her delighted parents was a lovely reminder of what a precious piece of human ecology the traditional family is.

I’d like to spell out some of the principal dangers to what we’ll call here OSM (other sex marriage) posed by the proposed adoption of SSM (same sex marriage) in the Irish Constitution.

First a word on how the proposal empties out of any meaning in marriage. Then how the huge protection our Constitution gave to the family will become a time-bomb to completely destroy it. Thirdly, how that proposal, along with the incredibly rushed Children and Family Relationships Bill, will enormously damage children — who’ll be the principal victims of the new legislations. Then a word on the necessary denial of religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection that would follow if the SSM amendment is passed. Finally, a word on the undermining of democracy that’s characterized the Yes campaign.

Before beginning, I’d like to say that I’ve no doubt that every human being, gay or straight, is a personal ‘you’ for God, with an unsoundable depth of dignity. I’m also aware — that behind the slogan of ‘equality’ there’s an ocean of pain in many gay people from experienced rejection.

In the mid-’90s I lost a family friend and in 2004 a very dear colleague to AIDS, sharing with that colleague all his ups and downs over the years with the temporary successes various treatments gave him.

I remember a dialogue with gay journalist Quentin Fottrell, courtesy the Marian Finucane show, when I was happy to admit that he could be a lot nearer to God (given he saw nothing wrong with his lifestyle) then I was (my friends would of course say that wouldn’t be hard).

So while I’m setting out here some reasons why, if I could, I would vote No in the referendum, I’d like to make my own the words of Bishop Brendan Leahy in his pastoral letter on this topic: ‘It is not easy to dialogue about these issues. Let’s try all of us to remain respectful of each other’s view, listening to one another and, no matter what the outcome, committed to building up a society that is good for families to be brought up in.’

marriage.p1. From marriage to tandem licence

A Yes vote would make, at least for Ireland, marriage a victim of what Pope Francis has called the throwaway culture. Here’s a comment by Charles Moore from an article in the Daily Telegraph 10/5/13 on the legalization of SSM in England:

By accident, then, the Government is introducing, for the first time, a definition of marriage which has no sexual element. Yet it refuses to face the logical consequence of this surprising innovation.

If sexual intercourse is not part of the definition of same-sex marriage, why should blamelessly cohabiting sisters not marry one another in order to avoid inheritance tax? Why should father not marry son? Why shouldn’t heterosexual bachelor chum marry heterosexual bachelor chum? What, come to think about it, is so great about the idea of monogamy, once sex and children are removed from the equation? Does the word “marriage” any longer contain much meaning? And if Equality is the highest of all moral aims, how can the Government possibly justify not extending the gay right to a civil partnership to heterosexual couples who, at present, have no such privilege?

Backing up what Charles Moore said in 2013 of the UK SSM law, the Iona Institute asked the Referendum Commission, ‘Could two heterosexual male or female friends who are not closely related marry each other under the terms of the proposed new marriage law?’ A Referendum Commission spokesperson said: ‘The simple answer is yes.’ Commenting on this, David Quinn of The Iona Institute said:

The fact that the referendum would allow two straight friends of the same sex to marry confirms the extent to which the current meaning and understanding of marriage would be radically changed.. it will simply be a legally recognised relationship open to any two people who are not closely related and are of the right age… In New Zealand last year, two straight male friends, Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick married. They did it for a joke, but it was legally recognised. Over time, as the public understanding of marriage changes, and as people realise marriage is no longer understood as a sexual union per se, some will marry simply to avail of tax advantages, especially in terms of being able to inherit one another’s property without paying heavy tax. What we are seeing is a total transformation of marriage into what in some cases will amount to no more than a method of tax avoidance.

In other words, once you separate procreative sex from marriage, it becomes a legal piece of paper, a tandem-licence, applicable to any couple who call their relationship marriage. Already we’ve seen this unhooking of marriage from its meaning as between one man and woman for life leading to demands for the legalization of relationships between multiple partners, going beyond couples to ‘trouples’ for a triple relationship, reminding me of someone on the Goon Show complaining that two sexes weren’t enough.

Are we that far off from a human zoo, where no relationships are special, because they’re all legalizable?

And the Taoiseach’s claim that SSM will have no effect on OSM is questioned by Bruce Arnold in his 5/5/15 Open Letter to the Taoiseach, where he asks, of similar legislation, “How then could the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court also say on April 27th, to proponents of gay marriage: ‘you’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship?’”

But introducing SSM in Ireland is legally even more catastrophic than it has been in England, because of our special constitutional protections for the family.

Meaning of Marriage2. From Constitutional Protection to Constitutional Time bomb

The Iona-commissioned legal study brings out that the Constitution’s huge defence of the family as the basic building block of Irish society could become a battering ram which destroys it. Why? Because all the powerful legal protections for OSM can now be turned against it in favour of SSM.

Any attempt to privilege OSM — in speech, action, education, commerce, even religious practice — could be seen as undermining SSM, which is now also the fundamental building block of our society. Just think of what applying Article 41’s protections of OSM to SSM would mean — I’ll mischievously put in SSM for wherever OSM was originally intended:

1 1° The State recognises the Same Sex Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Same Sex Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.

3 1° The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Same Sex Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

And from the legal opinion commissioned by Iona:

Article 41.3 and related Supreme Court jurisprudence holds that “the Family” for the purposes of Irish law is “founded” on the “institution of Marriage”. This has been interpreted to mean that a married couple, even without children, constitute a “Family” for the purposes of the Constitution and Irish law. The Amendment prohibits any discrimination in respect of the right to marry that is based on the sex of the prospective spouses. Assuming that the Amendment is passed, it follows that the “institution of Marriage” for the purposes of the Constitution is an institution which is blind to and exists without regard to the sex of the persons who are married. It is on such an institution that Article 41.3 states “the Family” is “founded”. It must therefore also follow that two married men or two married women constitute a “Family” for the purposes of the Constitution and Irish law.

The status and entitlements of two married men or two married women as such a “Family” would thus include (emphasis added):

Recognition by the State, pursuant to Article 41.1.1°, as being an instance of “the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

The benefit of the State’s guarantee, pursuant to Article 41.1.2°, “to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.”

The benefit of the State’s pledge, pursuant to Article 41.3, “to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

The benefit of the State’s acknowledgement, pursuant to Article 42.1, “that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family…”

Rights recognised by the Supreme Court as ones “which the State cannot control” and are “superior to those of the State itself”.

Bruce Arnold in his Open Letter to the Taoiseach asked: ‘When Article 41.3.1 of the Constitution provides that the State pledges to protect the institution of Marriage upon which the Family is founded from attack, what does this really mean for a marriage of two men? Does it not mean that they will have a constitutional right to donor assisted human reproduction and surrogacy to “found” their family? Must not all legislative restrictions on these practices be subject to this new and radical constitutional right?’

And various commentators have explored how the Constitution, if the Amendment passes, will come in like a battering ram now in protection of SSM, as we’ll see.

And that’s possibly the reason why the government has adamantly refused to allow any exceptions because of conscientious objection in the proposed amendment. The Constitutional backing for SSM in Article 41 is so powerful that in law — as the Iona opinion amply indicates — any appeals against it in education, commerce, or other than purely intra-Church matters wouldn’t have a hope.

Pope-Family3. Children’s need for a mother and father crushed by tectonic plate of adults’ desires

I think we’d all agree that a society can be judged on how it treats its defenceless and most vulnerable members. Passing the proposed SSM amendment increases the danger that children’s upbringing and need for a mother and father will become secondary to the satisfaction of adults.

No amount of happy children brought up in SSM’s could make up for the threat of to children of their being legally deprived of their natural fathers and mothers.

Although Yes supporters deny any connection between issues like adoption and surrogacy with the SSM amendment, John Waters in ‘The danger lurking under surface of the referendum: Marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples involves discrimination against children and existing parents,’ (Sunday Independent, 29/3/15), pointed out how that amendment, bolstered by the Constitutional articles defending OSM, will reap the benefit of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (C&FR).

He notes that denying the connection between the SSM and C&FR is so fatuous as to be transparent to a child of eight. Any individual change in the constitutional treatment of marriage and family is likely to have implications for the future interpretation of all other such provisions.

Therefore, in considering the SSM amendment, the voter needs to contemplate implications arising from the inter-working of the amendment with other family-related constitutional provisions, as well as the C&FR Bill and no less than 18 other Acts of the Oireachtas mentioned in its text.

If there is no connection between the C&FR Bill and the SSM amendment, why was it necessary to introduce the bill before the referendum? The reason is clear: the Government wishes to deny the people the right to decide on the question of gay marriage and adoption together, rendering the more contentious issue of same sex adoption a fait accompli and confining the referendum to the question of gay marriage alone.

The C&FR Bill makes it possible for same-sex couples to adopt children, extending high degrees of protection to the parent-child relationships thus created. The change to the definition of marriage implicit in the SSM amendment will also expand the definition of family, and extend to same-sex couples the premium level of constitutional protection in respect of parental rights.

Earlier, David Quinn, in ‘Sexuality is irrelevant to the debate on marriage,’ Irish Independent, 19/01/2015, wrote:

If the Constitution changes to allow a same-sex couple to marry, then all laws will have to treat them in exactly the same way as an opposite-sex married couple. You might think, ‘fair enough’. However, what it will mean (among other things) is that it will become impossible for any adoption law to recognise a child’s right to a mother and a father because the law will have to pretend that when it comes to raising children two men or two women are exactly the same as a mother and a father.

And Breda O’Brien, in ‘Does Mary McAleese understand why people are voting No? If the referendum is passed, there will be children born in this country who will never experience a mother’s love,’ Irish Times, 18/5/15, asks:

Has Mary McAleese ever spoken with someone raised by gay parents, who loved both her mother and her mother’s partner but still had this to say: “Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalises a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting.”

Heather Barwick adds: “I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father.”

(Heather Barwick is a straight woman raised by a lesbian mother. Heather was a gay marriage advocate and poster child for lesbian parenting until her 20s, and it was only when she married a man and had children that she allowed herself to come out of the closet and say that children need both a mother and a father.)

It gets worse. To get a flavour of the Brave New World language of the C&FR Act, hurriedly rushed through the Oireachtas with only two senators voting against it, Senators Rónán Mullins and Jim Walsh. Here’s a paragraph from the Act:

“DAHR procedure” means a donor-assisted human reproduction procedure, being any procedure performed in the State with the objective of it resulting in the implantation of an embryo in the womb of the woman on whose request the procedure is performed, where—(a) one of the gametes [sperm or egg] from which the embryo has been or will be formed has been provided by a donor, (b) each gamete from which the embryo has been or will be formed has been provided by a donor, or (c) the embryo has been provided by a donor…

Once again, SSMs, if the amendment were passed, would allow SSMs these various kinds of surrogate children. William Binchy in ‘Same-sex referendum Yes would affect child welfare laws: ‘Second major consequence is in relation to assisted human reproduction and surrogacy,’ Irish Times, 12/5/15, said:

The syllogism that a court would confront is as follows: married couples have a right to procreate; married couples include two gay men, who can procreate only by means of a surrogate arrangement; therefore, a law restricting or, a fortiori, banning such an arrangement would be unconstitutional as it would prevent the gay men from procreating by the only means open to them….

Some electors may support legislation permitting surrogacy in such circumstances; others may oppose it. The point of significance is that, directly contrary to the Government’s assertion, the proposal to change the Constitution has a direct impact in radically restricting the range of legislative options open to the electorate. It gives preference to the choices of adults over the welfare of children.

Gay blogger Paddy Manning puts it more trenchantly in his ‘Marriage Equality Referendum: Why I’ll tick that níl box in a pink glitter pen.’ Examiner, 12/5/15:

This change to the Constitution makes it impossible to legally privilege a married mother-father couple for an adoptive child, deliberately ignoring what is best for the child. If prostitution is a short-term rental, what are we to make of the long term-lease that is surrogacy? Implicitly a de-gendered marriage in the Constitution puts this ugly trade at the heart of family law, because two men require a woman to create a child…

In the rush to be cool and please Twitter, no consideration has been given to how a de-gendered marriage will affect children, child custody, adoption, assisted human reproduction, or the rights of unmarried parents. We are having [an] adult-centric debate on marriage when we should be putting children, their rights, needs, and outcomes at the centre of the discussion. Marriage, we are told, is not about children.

As Professor Bernadette Tobin writes in The Sydney Morning Herald (15/5/15), ‘the international trade in surrogacy exploits poor women…and of course children—the baby Gammy—who do not come up to the expectations of the commissioning couple would…be at risk of abandonment…Children are entitled to be brought up by their natural mother and natural father…If we thought that by legalising commercial surrogacy in Australia we could give surrogacy an ethically sound underpinning, we would be deceiving ourselves.’ That self-deception occurred on a massive scale in the Oireachtas with the passing of C&FR.

But a Yes for the SSM referendum won’t only affect OSM or, powered by the Constitutional articles formerly defending OSM, OSMs’ and individuals’ ability to adopt, or furthering various forms of surrogacy. It’ll also affect the education of children from infancy onwards, as well as the Churches’ freedom to teach in the areas of sexual morality, and the rights of Christian and other business people to refuse certain services to SSM couples.

wedding4. Implications for conscience and religious freedom

The Examiner on 15/5/15 carried a story of a new group of teachers called Educators for Conscience.

A spokesperson for the group, Kevin Leavy said: “The reality is that if this referendum passes, gender-neutral ‘marriage’ would be elevated to a new status in the Constitution, and employees of the State would be obliged to protect that new model of marriage.

“As teachers, our fear is that for example, a teacher who gives preferential treatment to a view of marriage as between a man and woman over a same sex marriage, will be seen to be discriminating.” He said that the proposal will change the way that sex education classes in schools would have to be taught…

Mr Leavy said, “We already have material being sent into primary schools with the approval of the INTO called ‘Different Families, Same Love’. Among other things this advises teachers on how to teach children in Junior Infants about transsexuality and the different varieties of adult sexual desire before they even know the basic facts of life. “If the referendum passes, it will become more and more difficult for teachers to refuse to teach material they believe is entirely age inappropriate.”

When the UK legalized SSM, Charles Moore (Daily Telegraph, 10/5/13) wrote that-

Even without gay marriage, Catholic adoption agencies which have refused to place babies with homosexual couples have been forced to close down. With same-sex marriage, any charitable religious assistance in family life – a Christian marriage guidance bureau such as Marriage Encounter, for example, maybe even the famous Alpha Course – will be vulnerable to state legal attack.

Which of course has just happened, with Minister James Reilly retrospectively cutting off government support of Catholic marriage advisory agency Accord — where James Reilly had already threatened to defund Catholic hospitals unless they supported his abortion legislation. (see Irish Catholic, 15/5/15). William Binchy in his 12/5/15 piece in the Irish Times writes:

We have in article 44 of our Constitution provisions that protect religious freedom…The new and specifically identified right to same-sex marriage will assert itself in potential opposition to religions that understand marriage as involving men and women.

The argument will be made that, while religions may perhaps continue to adhere to that ethos within their own faith communities, any engagement between religious denominations and the public or with the State system will have to respect fully this new constitutional right…Other religious denominations with a similar understanding of marriage are equally affected by the proposed change.

A litigant who challenged the constitutional entitlement of religious denominations to register marriages that exclude same-sex unions would have a reasonable prospect of success. More radically, there are implications for the State’s role in prescribing the normative content of education in schools and for withdrawing or restricting funding if it considers that a school programme fails to give sufficient support to the normative premises of same-sex marriage.

Perhaps the Irish public isn’t aware of most of these issues—which have nothing to do with their attitude towards homosexuality or SSM, but with the very foreseeable and catastrophic ‘side effects’ of voting Yes in the SSM referendum. As David Quinn has repeatedly pointed out, ‘the debate about marriage ought not to be a debate about homosexuality. It should be a debate about what marriage is and what purpose it serves and what gets changed when we change marriage.’ (Irish Independent, 19/1/15)  

At least some — not excluding prominent personalities, politicians, or media people — are so intimidated by fear of being labelled homophobic that they’re keeping their heads down, like the so-called ‘shy Conservatives’ that upended all the polls in England a week or so ago. So let’s say a few words about.

vatican-weddings-15. The virtual prohibition of questions

I’ll begin with blogger Brendan O’Neill, from his Spiked blog piece, ‘Gay marriage: a case study in conformism: Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying’:

How do we account for this extraordinary consensus, for what is tellingly referred to as the ‘surrender’ to gay marriage by just about everyone in public life? And is it a good thing, evidence that we had a heated debate on a new civil right and the civil rightsy side won? I don’t think so…

It’s better described as conformism, the slow but sure sacrifice of critical thinking and dissenting opinion under pressure to accept that which has been defined as a good by the upper echelons of society: gay marriage.

Indeed, the gay-marriage campaign provides a case study in conformism, a searing insight into how soft authoritarianism and peer pressure are applied in the modern age to sideline and eventually do away with any view considered overly judgmental, outdated, discriminatory, ‘phobic’, or otherwise beyond the pale…With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing.

The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised… Eventually… even those who are unsure about gay marriage ‘quell their natural misgivings’… How many other people are saying ‘yes’ not because they believe in gay marriage, but because they don’t want…to be thought of as ‘losers’ who have failed to ‘emulate their betters’?

Though every word of O’Neill’s blog applies to us just now, it was posted on 11/4/13 while legalizing SSM was being proposed by David Cameron’s government (and eventually passing into law in March, 2014). While apparently herself supporting SSM, Sunday Independent correspondent Eilish O’Hanlon sharply criticized the intellectually disadvantaged Yes campaign on 3/5/15, in an article headed ‘It doesn’t take much to be branded a bigot these days: Campaigners for same sex marriage are giving a master class in how to turn certain victory in the referendum into defeat’:

The No campaign is based on a fallacy, which is that the conditions under which marriage is legally permitted by the State should be dependent upon a particular view about the best way to raise children; but it’s a single error, endlessly repeated.

The Yes side, by contrast, seems to be after a world record for most logical fallacies committed in a single campaign. Appeals to emotion. Appeals to flattery. Appeals to ridicule. One could go down a list of common fallacies, and tick them off, one by one.

Most of all there is the appeal to authority…It doesn’t take much to be denounced as a homophobe these days. It coarsened the tone of the debate and introduced an edge of liberal McCarthyism that has still not dissipated.

An article by another Sunday Independent correspondent, Brendan O’Connor was headed: ‘Sneering at No voters could lose referendum: Government, the media and tech companies telling people how to vote could end up with a surprise like the UK election.’ (10/5/15) I’m sure what Dublin GAA player, Ger Brennan said, when declaring he was voting No the Irish Independent on 13/5/15, could be multiplied by thousands if not tens of thousands in Ireland today:

I very nearly decided not to write this piece. I know I’ll be targeted for it and labeled for it. It would have been easier to keep my mouth shut and not rock the boat. But I’m sick of the accusations being flung around that if you vote ‘No’ you are homophobic. I know I’m not homophobic; my gay friends and family can attest to that.

I am voting ‘No’ because I don’t want our Constitution to deny that it is a good thing for a child to have a mother and a father. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights proclaims that everybody is equal in dignity and it holds that marriage is a male-female union. I don’t think the Declaration of Human Rights is homophobic. I’m voting ‘No’.

But the one-sided coverage of the debate leading up the referendum hasn’t only been in the constant coverage of Yes-voting entertainment and sports celebrities, the Yes-declarations of various courageous priests and religious, and the collapse of anything like a parliamentary opposition to do the work of critical sifting both of the C&FR bill and the SSM amendment. There’s also been what Breda O’Brien dealt with in her Irish Times 2/5/15 article, headed ‘Garda body’s call for a Yes vote undermines democracy: ‘It is just one of the deeply disturbing aspects of the debate, or should that be non-debate, in advance of the referendum.’ There she wrote:

Until Nuala O’Loan’s intervention this week, virtually no attention was paid to the issue at all, which shows just how stifling the consensus has become. O’Loan, of course, was police ombudsman in Northern Ireland at a most troubled time, and has acted in an advisory capacity regarding policing and police accountability, in India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia, the US, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Romania, Portugal and throughout the United Kingdom.

She told the Irish Catholic that “the police are supposed to be independent. Trust in them is dependent on that independence. This should not have happened.” Even if a person thought same-sex marriage is the most important civil rights issue of this generation, how could anyone be indifferent to gardaí­ becoming so partisan, given the implications it has for our democracy?

As Nuala O’Loan also said, “Since the gardaí­ and the GRA are established by statute to carry out specific functions, and are publicly funded, that makes them even more an emanation of the State, under the same obligations I would argue as the State not to intervene in referendums.”

It is just one of the deeply disturbing aspects of the debate – or should that be non-debate – in advance of the referendum. The framing, right down to what you will read on your ballot paper, that is, “marriage equality”, has been designed to shut down debate. And our Taoiseach offered to debate, and then disappeared behind a wall of advisers. It is deeply sad we are now a country where people cannot freely express themselves, and a country where even the police force can be captured to achieve a political goal.

Breda O’Brien has also written the very revealing article about the millions of US dollars poured into gay activism in Ireland. I’ll have to leave its heading to speak for itself: ‘Asking questions about funding for referendum campaign: Groupthink has been exalted to an Irish sacrament’ (Irish Times, 9/5/15).

And I’ll finish this section on the serious damage to democracy the highhanded handling of the amendment campaign by government and a largely compliant media with a remark of Paddy Manning, who is himself gay. (Though in these matters it’s good to remember what Tony Schwarz, who crafted the single most successful TV ad ever used in a US presidential election — where he’d implied that if Barry Goldwater was elected, he’d nuke the USSR. He was asked if he didn’t think he was manipulating people. ‘Manipulation?’, he replied, ‘No. Partipulation. The people wanted to be manipulated.’ Communication becomes intoxicant, where its audience has become so critically dulled that it prefers being manipulated to being told the truth.) Here’s Paddy Manning in the Examiner, 12/5/15:

Terrible damage is being done to democracy by the enforced unanimity of politicians on this huge change. No is not homophobia, whatever the activists scream. Consensus based on terror has empowered yes campaigners to drive their mailed fist through the electoral laws, defying criminal sanction by removing no campaign posters and sharing pictures of these triumphs over democracy on social media…

The electorate deserve honest answers, even to questions they are told may not be asked. I am very proud of the tiny no campaign, a small handful of amateur activists up against the entire political establishment, the unquestioning media, the trade unions, and Chuck Feeney’s millions.

In a fight that is now as much about democracy as it is about children’s rights, their courage is vital as “activists” systematically attempted to target and threaten the livelihood of anyone campaigning against same-sex marriage.

“X is a homophobe and cannot teach/nurse/practise medicine or law” is a terrifying totalitarian campaign that deserves the term Gaystapo. LGBT activists trying to scare you into voting yes don’t speak for me or many other gay people that they have silenced in this campaign.

wedding rings6. What would Socrates do?

Plato’s Socrates was profoundly aware of the oppressive weight of popular opinion to which he opposed a revolution of persuasion. His belief in the autonomous dignity of each person was so strong that he addressed his questions not to parties, or cities, but to each single person’s conscience.

A later Socratic dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn invited his fellow countrymen and women to join, not the ruling elites of Soviet Russia, not elites of wealth, celebrity or aristocracy, but ‘the elite of sacrifice.’

And it’s to such elites of sacrifice that Bruce Arnold, William Binchy, Patricia Casey, Paddy Manning, Rónán Mullins, Breda O’Brien, David Quinn, John Waters, Jim Walsh, and others are courageously inviting us to join, with them, and reject the SSM referendum proposal, not out of emotion or fear, but on the basis of our shared capacity for reason.

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