By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 April, 2015
If May’s referendum on same sex marriage is passed, gay couples will not get equality as the Yes campaign claims but paradoxically they will get “second class marriage” according to Keith Mills of Mothers and Fathers Matter.
Speaking to UTVIreland on the day his group launched its campaign for a No vote, Keith Mills explained that as 70% of marriages in Ireland happen in churches, that still won’t be an option available to same sex couples even if the referendum is passed.
Secondly, he said, at the moment any Irish married couple will have their marriage recognised in any country in the world that they go to, but for a same sex couple that won’t happen as there are only about 20 countries that recognise gay marriage.
He told UTVIreland, “I personally, because I am a gay man, believe civil partnerships are a better way to recognise same sex couples.”
Referring to the introduction of same sex marriage in Portugal, he said the Government here could have followed the Portuguese lead by excluding same sex adoption.
There have been three attempts to introduce same sex adoption in Portugal but none have been successful as the role of the mother and father is seen as important.
Another spokesman for Mothers and Fathers Matter, Dr Tom Finegan warned that changing Article 41 of the Constitution will “copper-fasten the Children and Family Relationships Act which already attacks the rights of children in a very serious way”.
“Article 41 confers not just a right to marry, but a constitutionally protected right to found a family including the right to have children. So the article the Government wants us to change has a very great deal to do with children.”
“The Government wants us to believe that the question of children has been taken care of by the Children and Family Relationships Act. This is simply false. At present any future Government can restore to Irish law – adoption law –for example – a preference for a married mother and father,” he explained.
However, this will be impossible if the definition of marriage and the family is changed to the way the Government wants.
“If the amendment passes, two men or two women will be given the same constitutionally recognised right to have children as a man and woman even though no two people of the same sex can have a child without adoption, IVF or surrogacy and can never give a child the love of both a mother and a father,” Dr Finegan stated.
“Preferring a mother and father in adoption and other laws would actually be repugnant to our constitution,” he warned.
According to Keith Mills, the core message of Mothers and Fathers Matter is that “we believe children have a right to a mother and father where possible”.
“I think we all understand if we were lucky enough to have been brought up in a family with a mother and a father that the mother and father contributed differently to our lives,” he commented.
He added, “Unfortunately, the combination of the children and family relationships bill that has just been rushed through the Dáil and the Seanad, in combination with the same sex marriage referendum that is about to be voted on in May, will lock provisions of that bill so that they can never be reversed.”
He said MFM believe that giving parity to the same sex couple with the family that can provide a father and a mother to a child is not a good idea “because we believe in gender balancing”.
Economist Ray Kinsella, chairman of Mothers and Fathers Matter, warned on Friday that a Yes vote would compromise the future of children.
He said the referendum would mean the State would no longer be able to give preference to traditional families, with a mother and father.
“The process by which the government have attempted to impose their will is damaging to the constitution, to democracy, and to the rights of children.”
He warned that it was “in effect a new form of austerity which would impoverish the rights of many childrens’ relationship with their biological families and therefore their sense of identity”.
Mothers and Fathers Matter have organised an international conference on protecting and nourishing the family which will take place on 25 April in Dublin at the Marino Institute of Education.
According to the group, it will be a day of reflective analysis, with authoritative international and Irish speakers, on the constitutional, social and anthropological reasons for affirming Marriage between man and woman, and the protection of the rights of children.
The speakers are as follows:
Morning Session 9.30-1.00
9.30: Professor Ray Kinsella Welcome and Introduction to the Conference
9.35: Patrick Treacy SC. ‘Referendum 2015: Human Rights, Legislation and the Constitution’
Patrick Treacy is a Senior Counsel and is married with children. Together with his wife, Linda Rainsberry, they also facilitate Integritas, a domestic center of Christian spirituality. He has written a booklet on this theme, in collaboration with Dr. Rik Van Nieuwenhove, in anticipation of the Referendum, (www.integritas.ie).
10.15 Bruce Arnold ‘Holding the Government to Account’
Dr Bruce Arnold is a writer and journalist, and a Fellow of Trinity College where he studied modern languages. He is former Chief Critic of the Irish Independent.
11.30 Professor Helen Alvare ‘When the Fever Subsides: Reason and Freedom in a World of Genderless Marriage’
Helen Alvaré JD is a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law (VA). She has published extensively on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households, and the First Amendment religion clauses.
12.15 Patrice Andre, Advocate: The French Connection: What we can learn from France about the Universal Aspects of Gender Theory and Same Sex Marriage Theory’
M. Andre is a Jurist and essayist and a specialist in Public Law.
Afternoon Session: 2.00-5.00
2.00 Dr Aaron Riches ‘The Nuptial Mystery – Empathy and the Anthropological bases of Marriage’ –
Chair: Dr Mary McCaughey, Lecturer in Systematic Theology in St Patrick’s College Pontifical University of Maynooth
Dr Aaron Riches is Professor of Theology at the International Academy of Philosophy, Instituto de Filosofía ‘Edith Stein’ and the Instituto de Telogia Lumen Gentium (Granada). His research specialism is the intersection of Christology and Metaphysics.
2.45 Personal Perspectives:
Elizabeth Howard: ‘Donor Conception: The importance of the natural ties
Elizabeth Howard is a mother of five from London, UK. She was previously a commissioning editor for Cambridge University Press. At the age of 15, she discovered she was the child of an anonymous sperm donor and she writes and speaks out for the rights of donor-conceived people.
3.15 Heather Barwick ‘Living with the Consequences’
Heather Barwick, raised by two mothers, is a former gay marriage advocate turned children’s rights activist. She lives in the United States with her husband and four children.
3.45 Tea/Coffee Break
4.00 Q&A Panel
5.00 Conference Conclusions and Outcomes
Registration before the conference is vital due to limited place. Registration deadline is 5pm, Thursday 23 April. To register email: [email protected]