Monday 19 March 2018

Child has a right to a mother and father

Dear Sir,

THE forthcoming marriage referendum will be a defining moment in the life of the Irish State.

We will decide whether a particular vision of adult equality should trump a child's right to a mother and a father.

Despite what the Government and the Yes campaign want us to believe, this is what the marriage debate is really about. Same-sex couples already have practically all the rights of married couples through the Civil Partnerships Act 2010.

They have equality. What the Government wants us to do is to redefine marriage in a way that will make it impossible, ever again, for the State to give preference to a child having a mother and a father in laws relating to adoption, surrogacy, and donor assisted human reproduction.

So much for "cherishing all the children of the Nation equally". If the referendum passes the Constitution itself will require that some children will be left motherless or fatherless - not through force of circumstance, but by operation of the law.

Obviously this proposal isn't motivated by concern for children's equality. Instead it is motivated by a desire to advance the interests of one category of adults, even at the expense of denying a child's right to a mother and a father.

The Government has no answer to this. Instead it just pretends that children are not part of the debate. But we are being asked to amend Article 41 of the Constitution, entitled "The Family". Obviously this implicates children, and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

If the referendum is passed, same-sex couples who "marry' will thereby acquire a constitutional right to procreate. But the only way they can procreate is by using surrogacy and donor assisted human reproduction.

In such a case we will have endorsed the following as a constitutional right: a child being created by two men who will have one woman as a biological mother and another as a birth mother, but from birth on that child will be left deliberately motherless. That child may never meet his biological mother and may never again see his birth mother after being taken from her arms.

This can hardly be called a child-centred state of affairs. Yet marriage is meant to be society's primary child-centred institution. The reason our Constitution describes it as the "natural primary and fundamental unit group of society" is that it is a union designed to unite mothers and fathers to their children and to each other. An amended Article 41 will change all that. It will redefine marriage to be an adult-centred institution, an institution that requires that some children be deliberately deprived of a mother or a father in the name of adult "equality".

Far more than symbolic adult equality is at stake here. Unlike an Act of the Oireachtas, a referendum result is final. If we redefine marriage, it is forever and there is no going back. Bad aspects of the Children and Family Relationship Act can be amended quite easily. Amending the Constitution is a different matter entirely. We need to reflect very carefully on what's at stake.

And the Government needs to be upfront and honest with us about all the implications of an amended Article 41. It's not good enough for ministers and Yes campaigners to focus only on those aspects of the referendum that suit their own agenda. It's not good enough for them to dismiss surrogacy, adoption, and children as irrelevant to the debate when they are very relevant indeed.

Many people feel they are being bullied into voting "Yes". We are constantly being told that, if we vote No, we are disrespecting gay people.

But this is nonsense.

Despite what virtually every politician, celebrity and taxpayer-funded quango says, "No" voters are good people with serious and legitimate concerns about the consequences that will flow from redefining marriage. They aren't the ones ripping down and defacing posters across the country (as has happened to hundreds of "No" posters). Go to Twitter or the comments section of the main news websites and see for yourself where the hatred is coming from. It seems that no one can publicly express opposition to the referendum without being attacked for being a "bigot".

The desire to protect a child's right to a mother and a father has nothing to do with not liking gay people or denying their equality. Article 40 of our Constitution guarantees each and every one of us our personal rights and declares that all citizens are equal.

But the referendum is about Article 41, which is not about equality, but about marriage and the family. We can believe in both the fundamental equality of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and the unique nature of marriage as a union of male and female. A "No" vote recognises that a particular view of adult equality should not be used deliberately to deprive a child of a mother and a father. A "No" vote protects marriage as a child-centred institution.


Patrick Carr,


Drogheda Independent