THE Irish government will hold a referendum in May, which could
result in the amendment of Article 41 of the Constitution to allow
The wording proposes to amend the Constitution by inserting a
new section stating that: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance
with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex." With
strong backing from the political parties, it is expected to be
Although the Church of Ireland, currently deliberating on
sexuality, will not be taking a stance on the issue of same-sex
marriage, it will be encouraging people to vote according to
individual con- science.
Three years ago, at its General Synod, the Church of Ireland
began a debate on same-sex issues, but a motion affirming the
traditional Anglican view of marriage as between one man and one
woman was passed. A select committee was established a year later,
and is due to report to the General Synod in Armagh in May.
The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to the legalising of
same-sex marriage, describing it as a "grave injustice" on the
grounds that it distorts the meaning of "marriage" and the position
of the family under the country's laws.
It is probable that questions pertaining to the family and
children, as emphasised in the current constitutional Article, will
be in the foreground of the campaign.
Opponents of the amendment argue, among other things, that legal
and constitutional protec- tion for the rights of the child to a
father and mother would be taken away.
Dr Richard O'Leary, who chairs a pro-gay-rights movement in the
Church of Ireland, Changing Attitude Ireland, said that "this
referendum is about extending civil marriage to same-sex couples,
and is not about church marriage, and it is helpful that the Church
of Ireland appears to understand this distinction."