RTE report Tuesday November 5th that the Irish Government Cabinet has agreed to hold a referendum on civil marriage for same-sex couples, which is likely to take place in mid-2015. It is understood that Minister for Justice Alan Shatter brought a memo to the Cabinet this morning on the issue.
This is social engineering at its worst and can only damage the institution of marriage.
This issue has been very much in the news in the UK in recent months and we are linking to an excellent document prepared by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) on the issue and would recommend that it should be widely circulated.
In a separate article the Sunday Times reported that Minister Shatter will give guardianship rights of children to gay couples in advance of the referendum.
Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore recently said he hoped there would be a referendum on same-sex marriages during the lifetime of the Government. He said the right of gay people to marry was an "important issue". Mr Gilmore also said it would be "important to win this referendum".
It was also reported last week that two labour MEPs called for a referendum on same-sex marriage on the same date as the local and European elections next May, to ensure a good voter turnout.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny however, bruised by his humiliating defeat in the Seanad Referendum, and concerned that he will be faced with a new backbench revolt within Fine Gael, was last week reported to be hesitating. It appears that the compromise decision has been to push the referendum date to 2015.
The Sunday Times Nov. 3rd reported on a briefing note on Justice Minister Alan Shatter's Family Relationships and Children's Bill, a draft of which is to be brought before the Cabinet shortly. Sarah McInerney [p. 1] reports: 'The minister intends to provide that in a surrogacy case, parentage may be legally assigned by the court on the basis of a genetic connection to one of the parents, with agreement of the surrogate. … It also proposes to give guardianship // [p. 2] rights of children to gay couples for the first time. … Shatter's proposals would allow a civil partner who is living with the adoptive or biological parent of a child and acting 'in loco parentis' for more than a year, to apply for guardianship of the child. The government intends for this aspect of the bill, which will be brought before the Oireachtas ahead of a referendum on same-sex marriage, to deal with many of the issues which may arise in the referendum debate in relation to adoption and guardianship of children by gay couples. … Shatter confirmed he will be bringing a comprehensive draft bill before cabinet shortly.'
Other reports at variance with the Sunday Times report suggest that the proposal to give guardianship rights of children to gay couples will not be part of the ‘Family Relationships and Children's Bill’ but will be legislated for separately in a stand alone bill.