The only consolation is that we'll see the heads of legislation on Civil Partnership by the Spring. Do I want to go further? Of course I do. The Green Party's Marriage Policy states that we want to make all terms connected to marriage gender neutral, thus permitting same-sex marriage. That's still what I want to see. Did we get this written into the Programme for Government? Nope.
The views I had before the election haven't changed. However political reality means that the members of the Government Parties vote together: week in, week out. If we do that, we get to enact what we put into that Programme. Sometimes, and it's not that often, we can go further. Would it be any different had we stayed out? I think it would. - I doubt that we would have the March 200
I was pleased with Charlie O'Connor's speech. He is a Fianná Fáil TD for Dublin, and he stated:
"I am not in favour of a watered down or lesser status union for same sex partners. There is a major difference in the status of same sex cohabiting couples and heterosexual or sibling cohabitees. The latter can, if they are single, marry under Irish law but gay couples cannot."
However I was concerned when Deputy Martin Mansergh, a Fianná Fáil TD for Tipperary started talking about costs to the revenue, and the red herring of what he termed "interesting clashes between a radical equality ethos and the ethos of the vast majority of our schools", though I nodded in agreement when he accused Fine Gael of making tedious and repetitious jibes at the Green Party for not remaining in pristine opposition. Martin concluded by stating that we need detailed, workable legislation that addresses all the issues and the wide variety of situations equitably.
I'm constantly surprised at the inability of the legislature to keep pace with social change. A Sunday Tribune poll in October last year showed that: "64% . . . support the right of same-sex couples to equal financial and legal rights as heterosexual married couples", and 37% believed that gay couples should be allowed to adopt. Meanwhile, when I sat on the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in the last Dáil discussing family rights if felt like drawing blood from a stone to get a minority report agreed that suggested that the following section be added to Article 41 of the Constitution:
"The state also recognises and respects family life not based on marriage. All persons, irrespective of their marital status, have a right to family life. The Oireachtas is entitled to legislate for the benefit of such families and of their individual members.
What I found most difficult to defend last week was the Attorney-General's advice that the Labour Party Bill could be unconstitutional. I hate standing over documents that I haven't had sight of, but that's the joy of being a back-bencher.
At this stage we have the reports: The All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution's Report on The Family and the Domestic Partnerships Working Paper, and the Law Reform Commission's Report on the Rights and Duties of Cohabitants. I'll be writing to Lenihan today, to try and ensure that the timetable stay on track.
I still can't get the Nina Simone track 'Mississippi Goddam' about people saying 'go slow' out of my head, but at least I can keep reminding myself that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed the year after Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech on the mall.