By Meg Jalsevac
DUBLIN, February 23, 2007, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ireland’s parliament voted last night to reject a proposed civil union bill that would have ultimately given homosexual unions all the rights and privileges that are currently reserved for marriage. The parliament nixed the current bill but gave the assurance that similar but not identical legislation would be forthcoming.
The bill was originally introduced in December, 2006 by Brendan Howlin, a member of the opposition Labor party. The timing of the bill was just days after a major court victory for pro-family forces when Justice Elizabeth Dunne of the Irish High Court ruled that a lesbian couple’s “marriage”, legally obtained and recognized in Canada, would not be recognized in Ireland.
The Irish parliament rejected the bill saying that, while they supported the fundamental intentions presented by the bill, they thought it “could not survive a constitutional challenge.” Michael McDowell, deputy prime minister, quoted the Irish constitution to remind parliament members that “[t]he State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the Family is founded.”
Before the vote, McDowell offered his encouragement to homosexual activists saying that “a new tolerance has emerged” that appreciates the fact that homosexuals are not to be “relegated to an inferior status.” However, he cautioned that attempts to force Howlin’s bill, with its current wording, were very unlikely to succeed and could be “very counterproductive in terms of achieving social consensus on this issue.”
As reported previously by LifeSiteNews.com, in January, 2006 Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced that Ireland would retain its definition of marriage as between one man and one woman but that the government would work to adequately implement the recommendations of the “All Party Report on the Constitution” which advised implementing a civil partnership that legally recognized homosexual couples.
Later in the year, McDowell, who is also the Minister of Justice, Equality & Law Reform, presented the “Options Paper on Domestic Partnership” which advised governmental collaboration in “contractual arrangements, a presumptive scheme, limited civil partnership (a civil registration scheme), full civil partnership (a civil registration scheme) and legislative review and reform.”
Prime Minister Ahern previously voiced his support of such legislation assuring the homosexual community that sexual orientation “is an essential part of who and what we are” and “laws have changed, and will continue to change, to reflect this principle.”
Homosexual activists argue their case in Ireland asserting that the constitution does not explicitly, or even implicitly, restrict the family to heterosexual couples. In her 2006 ruling, Justice Dunne disagreed, saying, “Having regard to the clear understanding of the meaning of marriage as set out in the numerous authorities opened to the Court from this jurisdiction and elsewhere, I do not see how marriage can be redefined by the Court to encompass same sex marriage.”
McDowell had initially requested a delay in the debate to allow the government more time to “deliver a framework in which all non-married couples, including gay couples, can live in a supportive and a secure legal environment.”
Howlin, author of the bill, lashed out at the government for the delay request with accusations of intentionally stalling the process, calling it “shameful” and “opportunistic.”
Read Previous LifeSiteNews Coverage:
Ireland High Court Rules Against Gay ‘Marriage’ Citing Harm to Children
Government Paper Pushes Ireland Closer to Homosexual Unions
Ireland: Report Recommends No Change to Traditional Family Definition