Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An argument to vote No and one to vote Yes on Friday

Below is an argument to vote No in Friday's marriage referendum. It is followed by a response to the piece. The reply is in favour of a Yes vote on Friday.

In support of a NO vote
1. From my experience of listening to and participating in the current debate during the past few weeks, I must acknowledge that people convinced that this referendum is about 'equality', as is your correspondent, will not be convinced by whatever is argued/suggested by people with a different view; likewise, those who are convinced that this referendum is about changing the 'definition/meaning' of marriage, will not be convinced by whatever is said by those with a different view.

2. I believe that marriage equality already exists here in Ireland - marriage between rich and poor, marriage between natives and foreigners, marriage between people of different races, marriage between people of different and/or no religious persuasion. What all of these 'equal' instances have in common, however, is that they understand marriage to be between a man and a woman. This assumes the basic biological difference between man and woman; in doing so, it acknowledges the NECESSARY 'complementarity' between the sexes. It seems to me that arguing for the irrelevance of gender in any discussion about marriage abstracts the discussion entirely from human biology. If there was no gender difference in our biological world, the world would quickly cease to exist.

3 I'm surprised that there is no difference between all the political parties on the perceived 'equality' issue. I'm not aware of any other issue which has not been a cause of dissent and different views among political parties. Surely, such difference of attitude/approach to any topical issue is a fundamental hallmark of a democratic society. Could it be that all the Irish political parties are clones? How can such a homogeneous view predominate in a democratic society that legitimately prides itself on being heterogeneous? 

4. Ironically, the Irish Government and most organisations INSIST on 'gender balance' in political elections and organisational structures. If gender balance is so important and necessary in such structures, then why is it not 'equally' important and necessary in marriage and the family - the basic structural unit in human society. Even in the non-human animal and plant kingdom (with the exception of asexual reproduction), the REAL difference between male and female - and the complementary nature of both sexes in a sine qua non in family structure and the survival of each species.

5. My final point, which could have been my first and only point, is that 'equality' does NOT men 'sameness'. Men and women are NOT the same. 'Uniformity', with which most people would disagree because it destroys creativity and spontaneity, tries to enforce 'sameness', whereas 'unity', which is achieved even with great 'diversity' respects the valid and legitimate differences that are present. That's why all of your correspondent's concerns about next-of-kin, a (non married) partner's contribution to/involvement in important decision-making, inheritance rights, tax situations, etc. are all adequately dealt with - and rightly so - in properly legislated civil partnerships

In support of a YES vote
He’s probably right in that I’m not going to be convinced otherwise. However, I do listen to opposing arguments.

On a couple of points though- “If there was no gender difference in our biological world, the world would quickly cease to exist.” Fine, but the argument is not about who can produce children and I have multiple choices around having children with my partner and this will exist regardless of the outcome of the referendum. All that necessary complementarity centres around producing children. But this is rigid thinking and doesn’t allow for the spectrum of sexualities and identities. Also gender is not a binary. It’s a social construct. 

Equality is not divisible- unless we take an Orwellian perspective. All are equal but some are more equal than others!! Equality should mean equal access regardless of whether you like/agree with those others.

Gender balance? when the church starts to entertain gender balance we can re-vist this argument.

Also, this is important- civil partnership does NOT cover inheritance rights, tax situations etc- (vital aspects of MY LIFE!) I know. I’ve looked into this. I’ve been involved in the legal research and there are 160 differences. I’d have no objection if civil partnership was for everyone but it is for gay people only. It is equivalent to having to sit at the back of the bus.

It may be difficult for others to understand but I love my partner in a real and committed way. We both treat each other with love and respect. People who use diversity in inverted commas have never been subjected to the tyranny of the majority.

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