First Sunday Meeting of Humanist Association of Ireland
Sunday February 1, 2015 at 4.00 p.m.
Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2
The following is a resume of the talk given by Moninne Griffith:
The First Sunday Meeting 1 February 2015, was chaired by Mairead Doyle. She introduced Monnine Griffith, Director of Marriage Equality to speak about the upcoming referendum.
Monnine gave us some background on her involvement with this issue. She is a solicitor and nine years ago was inspired by the KAL Advocacy Initiative: a case to recognise the marriage of Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan. She came out herself as a lesbian at around this time. More recently when she and her partner had a baby, she wanted to do something to have their family unit recognised legally.
Marriage Equality was set up in 2008. They looked at other countries to see how they had achieved equality and tried to apply this to Ireland. While the Civil Partnership Act in 2010 provided some rights and recognition to same sex couples, they felt it was not enough. The upcoming Marriage Referendum in May proposes to amend the Constitution by inserting a new section stating: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
There are five reasons to support civil marriage equality:
It will make Ireland fairer and more equal. The Irish have an innate sense of fairness – gay and lesbians marrying the person they love will not harm anyone.
Polling shows it has the support of three quarters of the population and the main political parties.
In seventeen countries and twenty US States, gay couples can marry the person they love. We don’t want Ireland to be left behind.
Research shows that marriage is good for people, families and society. This also applies to gay couples.
It is good for the economy. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others like to set up business in countries where their employees will be treated equally.
This referendum is not about children’s rights. There will be a separate one in March on this.
Monnine then spoke on some of the concerns people have about the referendum:
– ‘It will damage traditional marriage': Marriage has changed over the years. It used to be about children, property and inheritance and to this end, arranged marriages were common. Mixed race, inter-faith marriage and divorce were frowned upon. Now it is about love and commitment to one person, and it is the same for same sex couples.
– ‘Marriage is about religion': This referendum is about civil marriage and will not obligate any church to marry people. Similarly, after the divorce referendum, churches were not forced to marry divorced people.
– ‘Why do we need marriage when civil partnership already exists': Civil partnership falls short of constitutional equality and the legislation would extend equal constitutional rights, responsibilities, status and standing. Gay couples want to be able to say “this is my wife/husband”.
‘Marriage is about children and procreation’. Marriage certificates are not issued conditional upon couples having children. In Ireland today there are many couples who have children and who are not married, also many couples who chose not to have children. A recent poll in Ireland shows that two-thirds agree raised in a loving home was more important than being raised by a mother and father.
There was a Question & Answer session.
Moninne Griffith — Marriage Equality
Moninne Griffith has worked as Director of Marriage Equality, a single-issue organisation working for equality for same-sex couples, their families and their children in Ireland since it was launched in February 2008. Her work involves managing the Political, Mobilisation, Communications, Legal and Fundraising Strategies of the organisation. Before this Moninne worked as a solicitor in general practice for almost ten years and volunteered with FLAC, the Free legal Advice Centres, and Women’s Aid. She has an MA in women’s studies from UCD. She is the current chairperson of the National Women’s Council of Ireland and is also on the board of Amnesty International Ireland. She lives with her partner Clodagh and their 15 month old daughter Edie in Dublin.
Moninne’s presentation will give a brief history of what Marriage Equality is, why it matters, and address some of the concerns that people have about it. It will also look at where we are at now and what’s in store in the lead up to the referendum in Spring 2015. There will be plenty of opportunity for disucssion and questions.
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