In case you didn’t know (you probably didn’t), later this month there’s going to be a referendum on same-sex marriage here in Ireland. Civil partnerships have been legal for a while, but this will go all the way and change the constitution to extend full civil marriage to gay couples It’s a pretty big deal for a country where you couldn’t legally get divorced until 1995, and nerves are starting to get a teensy bit frayed as the country’s conservative contingent- which is generally not nearly as politically active as the USA’s or even England’s- has come out of the woodwork. I’ve been seeing monumentally stupid “vote no” posters all over my own town and I continually wonder who comes up with the bullshit arguments presented.
People like Vincent Twomey, apparently. I spotted his editorial on the Irish Times website and it was so vacuous, so mind-blowingly inane that I just had to write a post about it.
Twomey’s basic argument is that we should vote no on the referendum, although curiously he never actually states that outright. Perhaps it’s because all The Gays and their allies are making him feel intimidated, which is the other point of this editorial.
In four weeks’ time, it will be voted on and a majority opinion will determine whether one of the most natural aspects of humanity is going to be changed to suit a certain interpretation of equality.
Paragraph one. We’re off to a good start already.
The ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the Government and urged on by the media, is appealing to our emotions.
In other words hold on to your asses people, Vincent Twomey is here to deliver a logic bomb straight into your cerebral cortex!
The presentation of equality for persons who are gay touches the heartstrings of all, but especially the older generation.
I find this sentiment baffling considering it’s the younger generation who are far more likely to support LGBT equality.
Twomey goes on to say that of course, homophobia is bad and wrong and we should be nice to gay people. Just, you know, as long as we don’t let them get married. That would be taking things entirely too far.
But there is an unpleasant undercurrent, that of intimidation.
Okay, Vincent Twomey. Lay the ugly truth on me. Who has been intimidated? Why whom? In what way? When and where did this happen?
People who, in their heart of hearts, cannot equate same-sex unions with marriage fear being accused of homophobia.
“Homophobes fear being accused of homophobia”
The few who dare to express their views in public have experienced an onslaught in social media.
Who are these few outspoken marriage defenders? What kind of onslaught? On what social media? Twitter? Facebook? I have no idea, because this article doesn’t say.
The most intimidated of all seem to be our elected representatives. It is incredible that the political parties have imposed the whip to get their members to support the “Yes” vote. All but one Senator submitted.
Maybe all of the political party members “submitted” because they’re not contrarian assholes.
Is the Catholic hierarchy also intimidated?
I don’t care.
Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”.
By who? In what way? Twomey seems to consider a media campaign promoting the “yes” vote to be “intimidation”. Posters like this:
And ads like this:
THE SHEER DYSTOPIAN HORROR CAN YOU BELIEVE IT
I HEARD THOSE PAINT SPLASHES LITERALLY KILLED SOMEONE ONCE
As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change?
A single sentence of the constitution.
The simple answer is: human nature.
Oh wait I forgot, I don’t live in paranoid jackass land.
The rest of the article trots out arguments that should be fairly familiar: marriage is JUST SO IMPORTANT YOU GUYS, BECAUSE OF THE CHILDREN and if we change marriage than a whole parade of unspecified but assuredly dire consequences will follow.
Now, some people are actually quite good at spinning this nonsense into a seemingly compelling argument, such that it can be hard to pick apart or refute. Vincent Twomey is not one of those people.
Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society.
For the remainder of this post, I am going to extend a massive olive branch to Twomey and assume that absolutely everything in the above paragraph is 100% true and accurate.
Through marriage, future generations come into being.
Actually future generations come into being through the birth of children. This does not require marriage, or even sex. Twomey is letting his catholic dogma show.
Since the dawn of time, the union of man and woman was simply assumed to be the origin of the family.
Since the dawn of time. Are you fucking kidding me?
This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3:
The UN Declaration of Human Rights is totally radical and all, but it does not actually alter the nature of reality. You may have noticed that human rights violations didn’t stop happening as soon as it was ratified.
“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”
And here we see the obvious sleight of hand at the heart of all of this nonsense. Even if we grant that everything in this statement is true, that the family really is the fundamental lynchpin of society…. this referendum isn’t going to change that. There are still going to be just as many families as there were before doing the exact same amount of family-ing as they’ve always been doing, except now some of them aren’t going to be arbitrarily excluded from the legal definition because the adult members happen to be the same gender.
The real issue here is that Vincent Twomey doesn’t think same-sex families are real families, except he’s too much of a coward to come out and say it.
That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family.
By the way Twomey seems to have a habit of doing this- he apparently got into a bit of trouble in 2012 over the old “atheism caused the nazis” chestnut.
This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy. The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people.
So…. families with one child aren’t real families? What point is being made here?
The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included.
But…. the referendum isn’t going to change that! People aren’t going to be forced to shack up and adopt kids with members of the same sex! Vincent Twomey what the fuck are you even talking about? Is your position so tenuous that you have to defend it by resorting to pretzel-like twists of logic and invoking the spectres of long-dead totalitarian regimes?
These non-negotiable rights are the measure of all positive law — legislative or constitutional – because they arise from our common human nature, created by God.
I’m actually impressed he got this far without the whole thing devolving into an argument from religion, which it eventually always does because there is literally no reason to oppose same-sex marriage that doesn’t ultimately boil down to “because I think God told me it’s wrong” or “because I think gay people are icky and I hate them”.
Let’s do a fun exercise and contrast this convoluted morass of half-assed ad hoc justifications for one man’s personal biases with arguments presented by the yes side, and just to really stick it in Vincent Twomey’s face we’ll use some of that oh-so-intimidating government propaganda:
The Marriage Equality Referendum seeks to insert a new sentence into the Constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”
Marriage matters to Irish society, it is the secure foundation for loving committed couples, and everyone in our families, communities and country should be free to marry on those terms.
As it currently stands, lesbian and gay couples cannot get married and do not have equal status under our Constitution. This amendment will guarantee constitutional equality for lesbian and gay citizens.
Allowing lesbian and gay people get married just like everyone else will take from no one and will have no effect on anyone else’s marriage.
Irish People are fair-minded, welcoming and confident. This referendum is about making our laws reflect those values.
Mothers and fathers want all of their children to grow up in a country where they can have the same aspirations in life. The parents of gay and lesbian children want the same. Nobody wants second best for their child.
Civil partnership was a significant advance and couples across every county in Ireland have entered civil partnerships. However, civil partnership falls short of full constitutional equality. Only civil marriage equality can achieve this.
Voting yes in the Marriage Equality Referendum will be saying yes to marriage, yes to equality and yes to strengthening Irish society.
Clear, obvious and easily-understood. No byzantine quasi-logic, no need to quote irrelevant documents put out by the UN or play semantic word games, and no mention of Hitler and Stalin.
Thankfully, there are positive signs that Vincent Twomey is not going to be a happy camper when this referendum is over. Going by early polls the outcome could be close, but it’s looking like the “yes” vote has a definite lead. Even if the referendum fails, Ireland has a noted history of turning down major legal measures only to vote yes on the exact same issue some time later (this is what happened with the divorce referendum). A gigantic majority of young people in the country are firmly on the side of equality. The legalization of same-sex marriage in this country is a virtual certainty; this referendum is only going to decide whether it happens now or soon.
All that aside, now is obviously better and the fight’s far from over. The campaigning from the No side has been noticeably more aggressive and emotionally charged, and this is an issue where emotion can count for a lot. I also worry that there’s a sense of complacency among young voters that might lead them to not vote, assuming that the referendum will come down on their side.
I realize the vast majority of my readers are from countries other than Ireland, but I assume you’re all in favor of equality for LGBT people. Between now and the 22nd I’d like everyone to try and raise general awareness about the referendum, even if it’s just a single tweet in solidarity- use the #YesEquality tag and let everyone know that you care about what happens in the referendum. The knowledge that the world is watching us right now might be enough to sway even a few people to the right side.
And it’ll probably intimidate the ever-loving fuck out of Vincent Twomey.