Evangelical Alliance in Ireland Supports Civil Unions Bill
By Hilary White
DUBLIN, December 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Some Evangelicals in Ireland are supporting the government's civil partnership bill, introduced in June, that will grant some of the rights and privileges of marriage to homosexual partners.
Evangelical Alliance Ireland has issued a statement saying, "The government is seeking to legislate for greater justice and fairness for co-habiting couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. As Christians we should support that stance."
The Alliance said that the bill "does not directly challenge the traditional understandings of marriage in Ireland."
"Same-sex couples are now a part of life in Ireland," the statement said, calling Ireland a "radically changed society."
The civil unions bill covers tax and inheritance issues, as well as hospital visitation, pensions and rules governing "dissolution" and maintenance payments. It does not allow for homosexuals to adopt children.
"Co-habiting couples are a reality - this legislation seeks to deal with that reality from a legal perspective. We may disagree on the detail of the legislation but as followers of a just and compassionate God we can recognise the justice and fairness of providing some legal protection for the reality of both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting relationships," said the statement.
The UK-based Christian Institute reports that the Alliance's stand has caused anger among other Evangelical groups. The move was decried by Pastor Paudge Mulvihill, the Honorary Secretary of Aontas, previously known as the Association of Irish Evangelical Churches, who said it caused him "profound sadness."
Mulvihill said, "Aontas remains opposed to the Civil Partnership Bill because it undermines the status of marriage."
The statement from Evangelical Alliance Ireland admitted that there is opposition to the bill by those who fear that it will infringe the rights of those who "disagree with same-sex civil partnerships" such as Christian civil marriage registrars. However, Sean Mullan, Director of the Alliance, said that while the bill's wording "does seem" to present a possible threat to freedom of religious conscience, that fighting for religious rights on this "emotive and controversial issue" could be "misunderstood and unproductive."
LSN's calls to the Evangelical Alliance Ireland were not returned by deadline.
Meanwhile, homosexualist activists in the Republic of Ireland are complaining that the bill relegates them to the status of second-class citizens. Parliament's debates began on the bill on Thursday last week.
Mark McCarron, spokesman for the homosexualist organisation Noise, said, "The Civil Partnership bill will simply function to further marginalise gay and lesbian people, telling them their relationships are lesser than those of heterosexuals."
To contact the Evangelical Alliance Ireland:
22/24 Foley Street
Read related LSN coverage:
Ireland Introduces Gay "Civil Partnerships" Bill as Demand from Homosexuals Drops
"Climate of Fear" Growing in Britain for Christian Civil Marriage Registrars