Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Price Of Love

I'm unclear if those opposed to marriage equality have started their campaign yet. It's hard to tell: we had a statement from bishops, of course, but the slice of the population that turns to them for moral guidance dwindled long ago. Indeed if anything support for marriage equality jumped after they launched their sixteen page document. I wrote about it, twice, but expected a more comprehensive front to emerge.

I had hopes for the cumbersomely named "Defend Marriage in Ireland: Husband And Wife" group. From what I can tell they're the Facebook account of Manif Pour Tous Ireland, and, while they have only 358 followers at present, I can confidently say that up to 13% of their followers actually hail from Hibernia. Perhaps this will grow. They're fairly good at facilitating different opinions in their Facebook discussions so it's worth popping over. Do say hi if time allows.

This post seemed a mite odd. It claims that the cost of legislating for marriage equality in the UK was 1.5 billion GBP. The only citation given was a Facebook post by a small, anonymous account so I don't give it much weight, but as part of my counterargument I stole from the King of Iona's playbook and listed some major Irish employers who list marriage equality as something they value.

Now, of course no-one's marriage should have to be justified in terms of economic benefit. I put the below quotes together in case you know someone on the fence about voting yes. If they consider the protection of Irish jobs a compelling reason to pass the referendum then their vote still counts. As the discussion was around non Irish multinationals operating in Ireland I've limited myself to that subset. I've also focused exclusively on the top 100 employers in Ireland, as measured by number of employees. This is mainly due to time constraints; I might revisit the list later. Finally I only include companies that have actively campaigned for or taken legal action in favour of marriage equality. Employee headcounts taken from Irish Times's rather useful www.top1000.ie.

Without further ado:

Intel Ireland: 4,700 Irish jobs. Intel has openly supported and campaigned for marriage equality since 2012.

Fringe Catholic Group Issues Statement Opposing Marriage Equality

If you live in Ireland you probably know some Catholics. You might have gone to school with them. They could be your colleagues, your doctor, or the person who bags your groceries. But what most of us don't realise is that there is a small splinter group who are quite different indeed.

Styling themselves 'The Hierarchy', this self-appointed group of elites eschew secular dress in favour of ornate robes, jewellery, and improbably large hats. Unlike most Catholics who happily integrate into wider society, they prefer to live in secluded palaces. Women have been barred from entry since the inception of the group in the first century BC. They do not marry or (usually) father children, instead replenishing their ranks by recruiting Catholic priests who share their conservative world views.

If you follow the media, you'll see that this group of 26 Catholics (henceforth referred to by their preferred term of 'bishops') recently issued a statement opposing access to civil marriage for same sex couples.

"A same sex couple cannot be husband and wife", reads the statement in part, showing a keen understanding of the issue under debate.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On The Grave Injustice Of Marriage Equality

This week Ireland's bishops spoke with one voice on marriage equality, describing it as a 'grave injustice'. Strong words, and I found myself wondering if such forceful language had been deployed by these unmarried men before.

(tw: child rape, imprisonment, slavery, theft, sale, and deaths of children.)

I thought it would be useful to examine statements surrounding Ferns, where for decades members of the clergy raped and sexually assaulted at least a hundred children. It seemed apt: the bishops are doubtless aware of the particulars as two of their members (Herlihy, Comiskey) expended considerable effort ensuring the rapists and sex offenders did not trouble the attention of the authorities.

What phrase best describes this calculated concealment of depravity? Bishop Brennan's official statement chooses to condemn the affair as 'failings'.

I've done some amateurish tinkering around the edges of Theology and accept that the depth of the hierarchy's moral expertise may be shrouded from me by their years of study, but it seems to me that a failing is considerably less serious than a minor injustice, let alone a grave injustice. They must fear marriage equality greatly if they choose such words.

Next I sought out official statement on the Magdalene laundries. This business scheme consisted of religious orders imprisoning tens of thousands of women and girls as a source of slave labour, using violence, head shaving and psychological abuse to maintain control. The operation wrapped up in 1996. Paying the survivors their due wages and pensions seems to me a just step, but again I lack the moral expertise that is endowed to members of the Catholic hierarchy. They're not paying.

How, I wondered, did this mass enslavement for base coin rank alongside allowing two men or two women in love to make a solemn commitment to devote themselves to each other for the rest of their lives?