Monday, April 27, 2015

#marref: What Would Fionn Mac Cumhaill's Mothers Say?

"We never intended to raise children" starts Bodhmall, welcoming me to the home she shares with her life partner Liach Luachra in an enchanting rural wood. They've been kind enough to share with me their experiences raising a child as parents of the same gender. Look it up if you don't believe me.

"But when your brother in law is brutally murdered by your father and your sister is forced to live on the run from men who want to burn her alive based on her choice of partner, well, you step up."

Liach nods her agreement as she roasts a hare over their open hearth. She joins in.

"It was a mess. We were totally unprepared. People always think of Fionn Mac Cumhaill as a fearless giant of a man, able to defeat entire armies in single combat. But they don't think what it's like to raise a child with that much energy."

"I think parenting is knowing you've been given the most important job in the world to do. That you've been given something precious - the chance to give someone the best start in life - it's terrifying. Because no matter how hard you work at it you'll never think you're doing justice to the person they're becoming."

"You're too hard on yourself" interrupts Bodhmall, setting the table, "our son led na Fianna, killed the fire breathing fairy Aillen, built the Giant's Causeway, and made us that lovely fishing lake when he threw the Isle of Man into the sea. He turned out fine."

"I hate to ask, but did you ever find opposition from religious leaders?"

Liach considers my question while sharpening the edge of a disemboweling spear designed to be held between the toes.

"No. I can honestly say we've never been troubled by the Druids."

I ask if they can tell me a little about Fionn's early days. Like any parents they smile at the opportunity to share happy memories.

"Martial arts really helped Fionn focus that energy of his. I swear, before he started on the spear and sword we were run ragged. But once we had him sparring a couple of times a day he started sleeping through the night and we were able to make regular time for ourselves. You know, as a couple. It's important as new parents to do that. Especially if either one of you can disembowel a man at twenty paces. It doesn't do to let pent up frustrations linger."

Liach nods sagely. I raise my final question cautiously.

"There are some who say children should only be raised by a man and a woman in in a married relationship. That men and women have unique traits that are essential to raising a child. What would you say to that?"

The silence terrifies. Liach smiles and tries to put me at ease.

"I find people like that don't like to say what these 'unique' roles are. If you look at any claimed gender specific trait closely enough it tends to disappear into the vapour. I mean, Bodhmall and I are undefeated in single combat, and many men have tried. And a lot of Fionn's schooling took place outside the home and some people say that's a woman's responsibility. But even if you did go in for gender roles - are you really going to argue Fionn doesn't fit the traditional mould of masculinity?"

Bodhmall is examining the edge of the spear Liach recently sharpened.

"These Druids who think I'm a bad parent. Would they be within twenty paces of here?"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

They Do Not Care About The Children

Over the coming weeks every household in Ireland will receive a leaflet entitled "7 Great [s
ic] Reasons To Keep Marriage As Is"

One of the groups listed as sponsoring the endeavour is "Marriage Diversity". It shares a name with an American group who consider the natural variety of human sexuality an abhorrence and something to be 'cured'. The stated aim of the organisation is to oppose same sex marriage. They own both www.marriagediversity.com and www.marriagediversity.org and would not have been easily overlooked while choosing a name for an anti marriage equality group. 

Visitors to these sites will find every vile lie ever told about those who do not share my sexuality. (See 'gay marriage facts' if you are strong of stomach.) It pains me to quote from them, but I feel it best to share a tiny sliver of their slanders rather than have you wade through the morass. They pretend those in same sex relationships have a life expectancy of 50, are alcoholic, depressed, violent towards their partners, are disposed towards crime, that the average number of partners for gay men is 308, they pretend it is impossible for two men to be in a monogamous relationship, and then pretend only 1% of the population is gay or bi. If you're not already aware what patent nonsense this is then I suggest you find more pertinent reading material than this blog.

It bears emphasising that every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender child in Ireland will receive this. To their home. In the place where this group we have marginalised should feel safest, those opposed to civil marriage rights have chosen to introduce the name of a hate group. Some of these children will certainly Google those so opposed to their future right to marry and be faced with this hateful, damaging, and dangerous nonsense.

Who is distributing this? In an earlier post I discussed Family and Life, the longest established group who has chosen to add their name to this leaflet. But what of the third partner, Mothers and Fathers Matter?

Thankfully broadsheet.ie has already covered their makeup. Most significantly, we learn that the site is hosted on the same infrastructure as CatholicBishops.ie. The information is now protected by a whois privacy protection service so I am unable to personally verify Broadsheet's findings at this time. Further addendum: having checked the historical domain registration information available it seems mothersandfathersmatter.org was using a privacy protection service before Broadsheet published their piece. My thanks to @mptireland on Twitter for raising the issue. 

Those behind this leaflet either felt it acceptable to choose the name of a homophobic hate club or simply weren't bothered to see if the name was associated with a group so damaging to the mental health of LGBTQ children. Remember this when they claim to act with their best interests at heart.

@Mandate_2015 and Bad #MarRef Arguments of Biblical Proportions

Mandrake and Lothar. For Marriage?
When deciding which Irish citizens should be permitted marriage it is wise of us to consider outside the naturalistic realm. Today I found myself concerned with Mandrakes.

For those whose Harry Potter knowledge falters, Mandrakes are magical plants with humanoid tubers. Their cry when young grates on the ears. When older their shriek can prove fatal.

It brought me pleasure to discover the group Mandrake for Marriage. Come May 23rd, should the referendum pass, their whoops of delight will likely kill us all.

But this was not the Mandrake I sought. Rather I wished to find the view of the dapper Mandrake the Magician (pictured right) and his burly companion Lothar. Regrettably, despite considerable research, I was unable to determine which way these 1930's comic book stars swung.

During this research I made a rare typo and found myself on ManDateForMarriage.org. I assumed it was a singles site for marriage inclined men, but having probed the jumbled mess of their hilariously misnamed site further I discovered that the site actually calls for a No vote.

My desire for knowledge of Lothar and Mandrake unquenched I moved to return to Bing. But then I noticed the trio of Burkes who produced the site share my concern for the supernatural realm. Indeed in one of their recent posts they claim to be able to correctly arbitrate Biblical scripture's messages on civil marriage matters.

The remainder of this post will evaluate their efforts with said scriptures. As the discussion will involve the Old Testament it will have to include discussion of rape. Please consider this a content warning. I'll include a picture of Mandrake and Lothar wearing matching rings to space the text a little:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Seeking Any Reasons to Limit Marriage

What new can I say about the Irish group Family and Life? Their past projects have included campaigning against the HSE's desire to provide vaccines for children. Their Facebook page seems unnervingly popular in Spanish speaking countries famed for producing fake Facebook accounts.

When not fighting against children's rights to receive the MMR vaccine they find time to fight against some children's rights to have married parents. I speak, of course, of the upcoming marriage referendum. The only unifying motivation that could explain such desire to fight medical and societal progress is lust to see Ireland returned to the 1950's.

But I digress.

They have printed a leaflet for every household in Ireland and from it I learn their endeavour was not accomplished without assistance.They partner with Mothers and Fathers Matter, a company that celebrates its fourth month in existence today, and Marriage Diversity, a group which I am told have yet to launch.

It is I hope not unkind of me to hypothesise that Family and Life are the senior partner of the three.

A digression - I'm going to be charitable with Marriage Diversity and assume they have been both unfortunate in their choice of name and negligent in their preparatory research. Both www.MarriageDiversity.com and www.MarriageDiversity.org link to rather hateful content, including this opening paragraph of their 'gay marriage facts' page which some will find distressing:
"Homosexuality is not just another alternative lifestyle or even a sexual "preference;" it is unhealthy and destructive behavior which negatively impacts individual persons, families, and society. Same sex attraction is a symptom of a developmental disorder that can often be prevented and can be treated. [this, of course, is bollocks -Geoff] Homosexual advocacy groups seeking to normalize homosexual behavior by equating homosexuality with innate characteristics such as race or ethnicity should be opposed."
More pleasingly, https://www.facebook.com/MarriageDiversity is run by pro marriage equality canvassers and celebrates diverse, married viewpoints calling for same sex marriage rights.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Marriage Opponents and the Mexican Standoff

I've often wondered what sort of folks oppose childhood vaccination. It's hard to find empathy with those who would sacrifice children's health - indeed children's very lives - on the altar of their sincerely held beliefs. You might recall a previous blog post discussed Family and Life's ventures in this area. They use their charitable tax status to spread misinformation about the HSE's MMR programme.

Today I learned that their access to high quality printing has borne fruit outside the field of encouraging childhood illnesses and restricting healthcare for Irish women and trans men. As they spread, they have mutated and focus now on restricting access to civil marriage.

Paul Bowler made the well intentioned decision to share the pamphlet on Twitter. Do follow him, even though he appears to tweet pictures while in control of a moving vehicle. You can also use the opportunity to read the text of Family and Life's efforts, assuming turgid dreariness is your thing. I compliment them on their spelling. And the choice of colours is inoffensive enough. Beyond that it's an uninspired remix of the stock scaremongering re polygamy, some misrepresentation of research, and parenting scaremongering.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Price Of Love

I'm unclear if those opposed to marriage equality have started their campaign yet. It's hard to tell: we had a statement from bishops, of course, but the slice of the population that turns to them for moral guidance dwindled long ago. Indeed if anything support for marriage equality jumped after they launched their sixteen page document. I wrote about it, twice, but expected a more comprehensive front to emerge.

I had hopes for the cumbersomely named "Defend Marriage in Ireland: Husband And Wife" group. From what I can tell they're the Facebook account of Manif Pour Tous Ireland, and, while they have only 358 followers at present, I can confidently say that up to 13% of their followers actually hail from Hibernia. Perhaps this will grow. They're fairly good at facilitating different opinions in their Facebook discussions so it's worth popping over. Do say hi if time allows.

This post seemed a mite odd. It claims that the cost of legislating for marriage equality in the UK was 1.5 billion GBP. The only citation given was a Facebook post by a small, anonymous account so I don't give it much weight, but as part of my counterargument I stole from the King of Iona's playbook and listed some major Irish employers who list marriage equality as something they value.

Now, of course no-one's marriage should have to be justified in terms of economic benefit. I put the below quotes together in case you know someone on the fence about voting yes. If they consider the protection of Irish jobs a compelling reason to pass the referendum then their vote still counts. As the discussion was around non Irish multinationals operating in Ireland I've limited myself to that subset. I've also focused exclusively on the top 100 employers in Ireland, as measured by number of employees. This is mainly due to time constraints; I might revisit the list later. Finally I only include companies that have actively campaigned for or taken legal action in favour of marriage equality. Employee headcounts taken from Irish Times's rather useful www.top1000.ie.

Without further ado:


Intel Ireland: 4,700 Irish jobs. Intel has openly supported and campaigned for marriage equality since 2012.

Fringe Catholic Group Issues Statement Opposing Marriage Equality

If you live in Ireland you probably know some Catholics. You might have gone to school with them. They could be your colleagues, your doctor, or the person who bags your groceries. But what most of us don't realise is that there is a small splinter group who are quite different indeed.

Styling themselves 'The Hierarchy', this self-appointed group of elites eschew secular dress in favour of ornate robes, jewellery, and improbably large hats. Unlike most Catholics who happily integrate into wider society, they prefer to live in secluded palaces. Women have been barred from entry since the inception of the group in the first century BC. They do not marry or (usually) father children, instead replenishing their ranks by recruiting Catholic priests who share their conservative world views.

If you follow the media, you'll see that this group of 26 Catholics (henceforth referred to by their preferred term of 'bishops') recently issued a statement opposing access to civil marriage for same sex couples.


"A same sex couple cannot be husband and wife", reads the statement in part, showing a keen understanding of the issue under debate.