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Gay Lobby Mangles Meaning Of Marriage

Irish Times July 31, 2009 by John Waters

WITHOUT ANYONE emphasising or questioning the shift, Amnesty International has gone in recent years from being an organisation devoted to the rights of prisoners-of-conscience in foreign jurisdictions to a lobby group concentrating selectively on ideological issues within the immediate jurisdictions in which it operates. I often wonder what its founders would have thought about this. I wonder, too, if people who stuff cash into the boxes of Amnesty’s street collectors are aware of the implications of what has occurred.

Twenty years ago, the idea of Amnesty lecturing the Irish Government in partisan terms on a matter on which there is democratic controversy would have been inconceivable. The old-style Amnesty considered human rights too vital to be mixed up with everyday political argumentation within democratic societies.

Speaking at his organisation’s annual International Pride Lecture in Belfast on Tuesday, Amnesty Ireland’s executive director, Colm O’Gorman, criticised the Government’s Civil Partnership Bill on the basis that it would create “a second-class form of marriage for what the Government clearly feels is a second-class group of people”. The most serious weakness of the Bill, he said, is its failure to provide for the children of gay couples, “creating insecurity for families across the State”.

“A same-sex couple will not be allowed jointly adopt their children. Children raised by same-sex couples will be denied the same protection as other children because the Irish Government chooses not to acknowledge their existence and denies their rights. These children will be discriminated against because the Government has decided to discriminate against their parents.”

He condemned as “cowardly” this alleged failure to uphold “the rights of children” on the basis of “ill-informed arguments rooted in a bigotry that still exists in a small and increasingly marginalised section of Irish society”. He referred mysteriously to “scare stories” about “gay bogeymen coming to steal away children”.

“This is not about the right to marry,” O’Gorman said, but “about the right not to be discriminated against because of who you love. Failure to provide full marriage equality means that same-sex couples will not have full protection under the law.”

O’Gorman’s statement was laden with disingenuous constructions and weasel words. Amnesty is either arguing for gay marriage or it isn’t, but can’t have it both ways. The Bill does not discriminate against gay couples any more than unmarried heterosexual couples can claim to be “discriminated against” for similar reasons. In not dealing with the adoption of children at all, the legislation might be said to discriminate, in accordance with public policy, against both categories by comparison with married couples, but this is a false comparison. And nor does the legislation discriminate against adopted children being brought up in gay unions any more than against adopted children being brought up by unmarried parents who are not gay. It does not deal with adoption at all. O’Gorman’s reference to “the right not to be discriminated against because of who you love” is a piety designed to fudge the issue and bully the public.

Without wishing to rehearse the arguments against either gay marriage or a generalised policy of enabling gay adoptions, it bears repeating that there is no “human right” to be married or to adopt children. Many people never get married and do not regard themselves as discriminated against. There are “human rights” at stake in the area of adoption, but they are not the ones Amnesty is focused on.

The gay lobby has made its case by mangling the meaning of terms such as “marriage” and “discrimination”, and by bullying with accusations of “homophobia” and “bigotry” anyone who refuses to acquiesce in the new definitions.

Marriage, a contract between a man and a woman, is an institution maintained by society for reasons having little or nothing to do with “love”. All men and all women have a right to marry, provided they wish to marry members of the opposite sex to whom they are not closely related by blood. Heterosexuals, like homosexuals, are prohibited from marrying people of their own sex. It is no more valid to allege wrongful discrimination in this context against gays than to argue that cycle lanes “discriminate” wrongfully against wheelbarrows.

In truth the Bill goes all but the full distance in capitulating to the gay lobby, and, as predicted, gays have banked their gains and come back still hollering about bigotry and discrimination. Colm O’Gorman’s disingenuousness notwithstanding, what gays are demanding is the “right” fundamentally to alter this society’s definition of marriage and invert the protocols governing adoptions, shifting the emphasis from the child’s interest to the alleged “rights” of certain categories of would-be adopters.

Every child has a father and mother, so any adopted child is by definition separated from at least one of these. What is Amnesty’s position on the child’s right to be brought up by his/her own father and/or mother? What is Amnesty’s policy in relation to the Irish State’s consistent refusal to legislate on behalf of fathers seeking to parent their own children rather than have them adopted by third parties?

Now there’s an issue for a conscientious human rights organisation to get its teeth into.