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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, etc.

Outline map of Ireland 1

Part 7:
2015-MAY: Ireland's SSM referendum approaches.
Catholic Archbishop Martin warned public.
Webmaster's reply to Archbishop's warning.
Faith groups' recommendations to the public.
A Roman Catholic priest is going to vote "Yes."

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This topic is continued from the previous page

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LGBT symbol 2015-MAY-04: Irish archbishop warned that marriage equality will result in intolerance towards Christians:

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the Primate of all Ireland, warned:

"Will there be lawsuits against individuals and groups who do not share this vision? What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage or about homosexual acts? Will those who continue to sincerely believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their faith and conscience?

If society adopts and imposes a new orthodoxy of 'gender-neutral' marriage, being defined simply as a union between any two persons-– including a man and a man, or a woman and woman-– then it will become increasingly difficult to speak or teach in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman"

Archbishop Martin may be basing his opinion on the experience by some businesses in the United States. These are called "public accommodations" by the governments because they are for-profit businesses who provide goods and services to the entire public. Some states and cities have human rights legislation in place that requires public accommodations to serve all potential customers and to not discriminate against any because of their skin color, race, gender, religion, etc. Some state and local governments have included sexual orientation as a protected group. In a few dozen instances, the owners of a wedding related business, like a florist, baker, wedding photographer, etc. have refused to serve potential customers because the latter wanted to use them at a same-sex wedding. To our knowledge, all of these owners have been conservative Christians. In about two dozen cases over the past decade, a couple has complained to their human rights commission. The store owners have generally been found guilty and fined.

Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach [Prime Minister of Ireland] said that the institution of marriage would be enriched by the addition of same-sex marriage couples. She said that the right of faith groups to refuse to marry same-sex couples would be upheld.

Archbishop Martin observed that opponents of the referendum have already been subjected to intolerant criticism, with activists denouncing them as bigots. He asked:

"How have we got ourselves into the situation that when people stand up to guard the dignity of difference between a man and woman, and speak for the traditional definition of marriage, they are often portrayed as being against freedom, or against equality?" 2

Webmaster's response: [bias alert]

Archbishop Martin observed that opponents of the referendum have already been subjected to intolerant criticism, with activists denouncing them as bigots. He asked:

"How have we got ourselves into the situation that when people stand up to guard the dignity of difference between a man and woman, and speak for the traditional definition of marriage, they are often portrayed as being against freedom, or against equality?" 2

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The answer is obviously that when many religious conservatives"speak for the traditional definition of marriage" they don't stop at that point. They go further and speak against allowing same-sex couples to marry.

In a country where about polls show that 75% of adults would like to see marriage equality the law of the land, some people are going to object to discrimination against the LGBT community, and occasionally refer to the discriminators as "bigotry."

For many decades in the United States, interracial couples were not allowed to marry in some states. When such a couple did marry, it was sometimes considered a criminal act. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriages in 1967. Now, almost a half century later, people who still would like to see interracial marriage prohibited are sometimes considered bigots. It is inevitable that such a term is used against people who are far out of step with the vast majority of adults on matters of civil rights.

It is important to realize that it is quite possible to be in favor of marriage by opposite-sex couples and also to be in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. That is, a person can be "pro-marriage" for all loving, committed couples.

Marriage can be "both-and" as well as an "either-or" matter.

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2015-MAY-07: Irish faith groups' recommendations on the referendum:

Patrick Comerford, writing for the Irish Times, notes that:

  • The Roman Catholic Church has recommended that the laity vote No.

  • The Church of Ireland, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, suggested that their members vote according to their consciences.

  • The Presbyterian Church recommends that their members vote No.

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2015-MAY-08: A Roman Catholic priest announced that he will be voting "Yes" in the referendum:

Steve Neville, writing in the Irish Examiner, said:

Speaking to Greg Hughes on Highland Radio, Fr. Brian O'Fearraigh said that this referendum is a civil matter and that he believes that the state cannot be seen to be discriminating against it's citizens.

"In voting Yes we are saying that the state will be recognizing and cherishing all of it's citizens regardless of their sexual orientation or who they are," said Fr. O'Fearraigh.

Fr. O'Fearraigh said that his conscience is clear with regard his decision, regardless of the fact that his bishop, Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce, had publicly declared he would be voting No.

Fr. O'Fearraigh continued:

"The reality of same-sex marriage is a reality that in no way threatens me or in no way offends me as an individual, as a priest and ultimately as a citizen of this state."


Barry Jones is a spokesperson for StandUp4Marriage -- a group that is recommending that people vote "No" on the referendum in opposition to marriage equality. He said that the referendum is:

"a matter for every individual, it's as simple as that, and that is a matter for him whatever way he wants to vote. It certainly sounds to me that he [Fr. O Fearraigh] is misguided." 3

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This topic continues in the next page

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Outline map of Ireland was supplied by See: Used by permission.
  2. Henry McDonald, "Ireland archbishop raises concerns about yes vote in gay marriage poll," The Guardian, 2015-MAY-02, at:
  3. "Donegal priest to vote Yes in Marriage Equality Referendum," The Irish Examiner, 2015-MAY-08, at:

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Site navigation: Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > Ireland > here

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-MAY-06
Latest update: 2015-MAY-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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