Sir, The letter from Ms Moninne Griffith, Director - Marriage Equality in The Kerryman of last week replying to mine of the previous week is appreciated.
Firstly, in so far as I put into the public arena the opinion that Kerry County Councillors acted hastily and without due consultation and consideration in affirming gay marriage, would it be presumptious of me to assume that the silence from that quarter hints at some agreement with that opinion? At any rate, as a subordinate body of State, and to reassure us all, perhaps the councillors would now address a motion pledging to uphold Article 41.3.1 of our Constitution!
Ms Griffith has acknowledged in her letter that, if granted all of what her movement sees as outstanding rights and entitlements, the movement would still, to use my word, covet the title "marriage". But why does marriage equality, seemingly, care so little about what that title means to others? If the movement cares so little or considers so little what it means to others, could it be that the movement does not care about it all other than as a trophy to be grasped and as a citadel to be breached? By the way, in all of what I have to say, I would be aware of the distinction between what the gay rights movement pursues and what goes on in the heart of any gay/lesbian person.
As regards the institution of marriage, are we all to say with Marriage Equality that two men or two women coming together is the same as the union of man and woman? It may be a hard saying, but it is not so. In our deepest hearts we know it is not the same.
The marriage of man and woman, in its inherent capacity and openess to new life, is everywhere and always privileged in the governance of societies. Rightly, this is a unique privilege which goes beyond all the other aids and assistances that any particular state chooses to render towards the needs of its citizens, including the needs of gay couples in committed relationships. By contrast with the inherent fruitfulness of man/woman, which attracts privilege, the love and commitment between persons otherwise is, from the point of view of the state and in a very real sense, nobody's business but their own; albeit the state addresses their needs as citizens.
Does anyone doubt that brokeness in one shape, form or degree, sooner or later pertains to all our lives. That we have to, as it were, live that brokeness and that denial or avoidance only adds to our burdens. It is the human condition. I can only imagine the challenge at the centre of their being faced by any young teenager finding himself/herself with a homosexual orientation. But it does them no favours for anyone, or the culture in general, to tell them their reaity is other than it is.The poignancy of the challenge cannot be wiped away or wished away by telling the young person that it is all the same. But brokeness is universal and true compassion helps to understand rightly and to carry burdens and does not promote the false comfort of denial.
In all this, both the individual and society as a whole is faced with the task of seeking a deeper understanding and consensus as to our all too human condition, from which would follow a more coherent and compassionate outlook. For example, it could be held that, due to a deficit of deeper philisophical, religious and spiritual insight, society is currently floundering in respose to the tragedy of suicide. In particular, society should be wary of the mantra of equality becoming a superficial category which refuses to acknowledge deeper distinctions.
Finally, if we agree that a healthy society is based on the family unit as it is understood, for example, in our Constitution, any society that sees anything other than the union of one man and one woman as marriage (viz which does not maintain valid distinctions) is laying up for itself confusion, confrontation and rancour not least in the areas of education, civil administration, rights of conscience and belief, etc, etc.
John F O'Donoghue,