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 and 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, is run by pro marriage equality canvassers and celebrates diverse, married viewpoints calling for same sex marriage rights.

This is a serious gaffe. Churches are distributing these leaflets. People are going door to door delivering them. They're listed as sponsored by a hate group. I don't have any advice on how to unring this bell, but I would urge no campaigners to at least disavow the existing group of that name.

All that said, let's have a look at the arguments. I won't reproduce the text - do have a look at the original.

Marriage Deserves Special CareThe resiliency marriage has shown is remarkable. It was a right we once denied to slaves. Catholics had their marriage rights severely restricted in penal times. Interracial marriages were still illegal in the 1960's in parts of the USA. In Ireland we once forced women from their careers when they wed. Despite all this the institution persevered, matured, and grew with us as we took faltering steps away from discrimination. It is not in change that marriage faces risk, it is stagnation.

Who amongst us would have wed if the institution still discriminated on racial grounds? Or offered Catholics lesser rights than Protestants? Marriage is harder to access financially. The Catholic Church is still the primary celebrant of marriage in Ireland and trust in their organisation is at its nadir. Anyone genuinely concerned for the institution has two more pressing areas to consider.

Civil Partnership Already Gives Legal Rights / Difference Not Discrimination
Here Family and Life play the awkward balancing act of saying how terrible marriage equality would be while simultaneously saying that civil partnership confers all the same rights and recognition as marriage. It is insufficient to say that this does not pass muster. Instead it goes to the wrong exam hall, misspells 'muster' on the answer booklet and then draws rude pictures in crayon.

Keep Ideology out of SchoolsAn unexpected yet welcome approach from Family and Life, who have a voracious appetite for introducing their ideology into schools. Their Education for Life pack is a self described "...cure for the sex educators' brazen lies" and seeks to combat the "godless" and "smutty" information contained in the curriculum's relationships and sexuality education.

They also enjoy discussing abortion with scoolchildren. And this isn't automatically a bad thing, but does rather leave one with the impression that their anti vaccination, anti sex education and anti marriage equality ideology is the only ideology they want in schools.

Protect Conscience Rights and Freedoms
Let us look at the examples given. There's Daintree, a company that went out of business because the owner didn't much like gay couples having cake toppers. The general public found out and didn't much care to shop there any more. It's under new management. From what I can tell they now can't get enough of same sex cake toppers, and business seems to be thriving.

Let us be clear: voting no will not stop this. There will be no tick box on the referendum slip that will call on the state to force her citizens to buy their stationery from companies they don't much care for. Same sex couples will continue to desire wedding and civil union paraphernalia. People of typical marrying age will continue to support their right to do so. Purchasing decisions will be made with this in mind. Stalin had a retail system that could subvert this trend, but believe me, you don't want it.

The freedoms denied by voting no are myriad and for the most part obvious. And what of the conscience rights of those of faith who wish to celebrate same sex unions? Why should the government continue to block Reformed Judaism, Unitarians, and others from the performance of their sacraments? There is some discussion in the Church of Ireland on the matter and while I don't see it bearing imminent fruit I don't think it should be the government that rules their Theology incorrect. If conscience rights and freedoms are important to you, vote yes.

Every Child Deserves A Mother's Love / A Child’s Identity is Important
Children raised by same sex couples already exist. The best evidence shows clearly that same sex couples are just as loving, just as exhausted, and just as broke as the rest of us. Their kids turn out as well as anyone else's. Even if you choose to ignore the uncontested nature of the research on this topic, how does denying their parents the stability and support of marriage improve their lot?

The ISPCC is calling for a yes vote. Family and Life opposes vaccinations and sex education and calls for a no vote. Which organisation do you feel shows the greater concern for the wellbeing of children?

If this leaflet campaign has annoyed you, consider a donation to YesEquality so they can print their leaflets. Broke? Contact your local canvassing group and help deliver said leaflets. If you're extra annoyed, do both!


Bock the Robber said...

Who is a former director of Family and Life? Úna Nic Mathúna. There's an interesting link for you.

Anonymous said...

The small text under the Family & Life logo is "Centre for Public Policy".

It just so happens that there was a company registered in Belfast on the 27th of June 2014 named "Family & Life Centre for Public Policy Ltd" (Company Number NI625406.)

The two directors of the Centre for Public Policy company, Raymond Donnellan and David Manly, are also directors of the Irish Company "Family & Life Movement Limited" (Irish Company Number 253991.)

As Bock says, Úna Nic Mathúna was a founding director of the Republic of Ireland registered company Family & Life Movement from 1996 until 1998, back when the company was named "Pro Life Movement Limited".

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