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The Irish electorate embraces Marriage Equality

The Irish electorate embraces Marriage Equality

UPDATED: see below for Church of Ireland press release.

In spite of being a largely Roman Catholic nation and against the admonition of the Irish Roman church’s episcopate, the Republic of Ireland’s electorate has legalized marriage equality in an overwhelming vote. But the vote doesn’t appear to be thumbing their noses at a church in deep disfavor due to the recent exposé of rampant child abuse committed by clergy and employees of Catholic institutions. Rather, the majority of those who voted yesterday were persuaded by the Vote Yes argument that it was a vote for fairness for same gender couples.

In the lead to the referendum, Roman prelates in Ireland seemed to understand the power of the fairness argument. The Bishop of Derry, the Revd Donal McKeown, said during a radio debate, “I would hate for people to vote no for bad reasons, for sort of bigoted reasons, for nasty reasons, for bullying reasons. People have to make up their own mind, and I’m quite happy that they can do that in front of God, be it yes or be it no.”

Crowd gathers outside Dublin Castle awaiting results

Vote No arguments centered around the red herring that voting no was protecting the children. That voting no would somehow assure every child opposite gender parents. The Rt Revd Pat Storey, the first female Anglican bishop diocesan in the British Isles, is reported by George Conger in to have used such an argument in a pastoral letter she sent to the clergy of her diocese. As bishop of the United Diocese of Meath and Kildare in the Church of Ireland she wrote, “I believe that civil partnerships give gay people clear civil rights and recognition as people committed to one another, and I fully endorse this. However, I do not think that this requires the redefinition of marriage to uphold it, and I do not believe that marriage should be redefined. You cannot redefine marriage without including information and reference to children, family life and the good of society. It is my view that, where possible, children benefit most from both genders parenting them. That is not to say that single parents who find themselves alone do not do an immensely great job in raising their children. Yet I believe that it is God’s intention that, wherever feasible, children should have a mother and father.”

Conger also reports that the Rt. Rev. Ferran Glenfield, Anglican bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, added his signature to a declaration by Protestant leaders opposing marriage equality in the Republic. However, the Church of Ireland’s official position was that it didn’t instruct members how to vote and trusted everyone to vote according to their conscience. Two other Anglican bishops, the Bishop of Cork, the Rt. Rev. Paul Colton and the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows have publicly stated that they support marriage equality. Bishop Michael recently told a conference at Trinity College, Dublin that gay rights was the “great justice issue of our time just as the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women were in the past.” The two previous Archbishop’s of Dublin, now retired, the Most Rev. Walton Empey, archbishop of Dublin from 1996 to 2002 and the Most Rev. John Neill, the archbishop of Dublin from 2002 to 2011 have both spoken in favor of the referendum.

Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.
Constitution of the Republic of Ireland as amended by the marriage referendum

With the success of the marriage referendum, Ireland becomes the first nation to affirm marriage equality by the will of the electorate. Prior to yesterday, nations which allow same gender marriage have done so either by national legislation or a supreme judicial decision.


UPDATE: Press release from Church of Ireland (Anglican)

The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland wish to affirm that the people of the Republic of Ireland, in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, have of course acted fully within their rights.

The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.

The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set. Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may – in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law – continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.

We would now sincerely urge a spirit of public generosity, both from those for whom the result of the referendum represents triumph, and from those for whom it signifies disaster.


some information for this story was gathered here

image above

photo at left BBC

posted by David Allen


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JC Fisher

In the Irish referendum vote, we see the living Roman Catholicism, that lives outside of (and even in open contradiction of) the Vatican. The RCC would be a pretty awesome church if they could just get rid of their hierarchy! [IF Pope Francis is doing that, he’s not doing it *nearly* fast enough. Then again, that would probably require him to lobotimize (as it were) the hierarchical part of his own brain. ;-X]

Philip B. Spivey

How counter-intuitive: a Roman Catholic (and conservative Anglican) nation votes the will of the Holy Spirit and have succeeded in breaking the back of institutionalized marital patriarchy in Ireland. Go Irish! SCOTUS, now it’s your turn.

Paul Woodrum

Three cheers for the Irish. Wish I could say the same for the Church of Ireland and that all their bishops were on the side of justice, history, and the majority.

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