The Gay Rights Revolution in Ireland
By ROD DREHER
Many people ask me why I write so often about LGBT stuff on this blog. Even people who pretty much agree with my position are tired of reading about it. I get that, I really do.
The reason is simple: I care about religion and culture, broadly speaking, more than just about anything else. The biggest news on that front is and has been for years coming out of the cultural revolution in gay rights, and what that means for Christianity. An older secular liberal friend of mine — strongly pro-gay rights — who lived through the Civil Rights era said to me not long ago that the swift change in our culture’s attitude towards gay rights is the most astonishing social revolution she has ever seen. She’s right. For society and for Christianity, the changes are massive, even though most people don’t yet see them.
You may welcome these changes. You may reject these changes. What you may not plausibly do is to deny the revolutionary nature of these changes, and of this historic moment in the history of the West.
The most astonishing thing yet happened yesterday: the people of Ireland — Ireland!— voted to institute same-sex marriage. Complete and official results won’t be in until later on Saturday, but early returns suggest that the vote is not even close: two-to-one in favor of legalization. This makes Ireland the first nation in the world to embrace gay marriage by a vote of its people. This was not some socially liberal country like Denmark, but Ireland. Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley:
Why were the forces behind Yes so overwhelming? Well, it could just be that the case for gay marriage is so strong – that the siren call of equality was irresistible. It could also be that the No side’s arguments were out of touch with how the West now views not only gay rights but the institution of marriage itself. No campaigners kept on talking about the importance of parenthood – as though marriage was still a legal contract entered into with the express purpose or hope of raising children. But this traditional understanding of marriage has long since passed away. It’s about love, children are not necessarily a priority, and religion is window dressing. Given this tectonic shift in attitudes towards marriage, it’s going to be harder and harder to insist that it be limited to just a man and a woman – or even just to two people.And:
But this referendum was about more than just the right to marry. Much, much more. It was the manifestation of a social revolution that’s been simmering away in Ireland for some time.
To emphasise, the Yes vote was undoubtedly a reflection of growing tolerance towards gays and lesbians. But it was also a politically trendy, media backed, well financed howl of rage against Catholicism. How the Church survives this turn, is not clear. It’ll require a lot of hard work and prayers.Notice Stanley, who is a conservative, did not say “how the Church reverses this turn”; he said “how the Church survives this turn.” I can’t see how this vote can be read as other than a sweeping and decisive rebuke of the Roman Catholic Church, which has discredited itself in Ireland with a series of horrible sex and abuse scandals (however exaggerated some of them may have been in the media). Catholicism in Ireland appears to be collapsing in the same way it fell apart overnight in once-solid Quebec. To be clear, I think this is a disaster of the first order. But leaders of the Irish church bear some responsibility for it.
That said, even if the Irish Catholic Church’s leadership was filled with saints, I doubt the result would have been much different, precisely because of that “tectonic shift” that Stanley mentions. More on that in a moment. Before we get there, though, consider what Brendan O’Neill, the maverick atheist editor of Spiked, had to say about the atmosphere in Ireland surrounding the vote:
So, the armed wing, political wing and chattering wing of the Irish elite is behind Yes. And what’s more, they’re actively demonising the No side, treating them as pariahs whose backward ways of thinking could harm Ireland and her citizens. The Psychological Society of Ireland issued a dire warning about the arguments of the anti-gay marriage camp, claiming they could ‘impact detrimentally on people’. A writer for the Irish Times called for the establishment of a ‘homophobia watchdog’ to keep a check on the words of the No side. The end result of the sacralisation of Yes and demonisation of No is a strangled, unfree debate. This is especially the case on social media. There, in the words of O’Hanlon, those who express doubts about gay marriage can find themselves ‘driven offline’.
This moralisation of the marriage debate is a dangerous game, for it means that, whatever the outcome on Friday, Ireland will likely feel more divided than ever — between a new class of allegedly decent people in Dublin and the old, the religious, The Other.And consider this powerful column from Irish journalist and gay marriage opponent John Waters bears reading and reflection, because it sounds very familiar to many of us Americans. Excerpts:
I met a man the other day who confided his belief that, in pushing this amendment, [Irish leader] Enda Kenny had provoked in Irish society a “mental civil war”, which will have ramifications of their type just as serious as the Civil War of 93 years ago. He may be correct. The stories I’ve come across of intimidation and hate-mongering are for me unprecedented in over 30 years writing about Irish life and politics. I met men whose daughters begged them not to let anyone know they were thinking of voting No, lest they, the children, be ostracised by their peers.More:
This has been the most comprehensive betrayal of democratic principles by an establishment in living memory. And it is not that most politicians actually care one way or another – many have simply either caved in to the bullying or are playing to the “cool” vote, perhaps thinking that they’ll be safely over the line to their pensions before the consequences kick in. But the consequences will come, and sooner rather than later, devastating families and individual citizens in thousands of tragedies played out in the courts, in proceedings in which neither nature nor biology will any longer feature as a criterion of parenthood.
Whereas the scars of this ugly campaign may acquire a superficial healing in time, the deep tissue damage to our most fundamental protections will persist until some saner generation, perhaps chastened by disaster, grows to sense in this Republic. The amendment has been sold through the misuse of words, especially “equality”. The Irish Constitution already provides that all citizens should be equal before the law, allowing for different treatment by virtue of difference of capacity and function. But equality has become a blackmail word, which in this revolting campaign has been employed with extreme prejudice to compel people to abandon not just their own most precious rights and protections but also those of their children’s children.
One acute difficulty is that the discussion is so surreal that most people are unable to see how serious the danger is, or even get their heads around why we are having this conversation at all. How did a tiny minority manage to impose its will on the entire political establishment, when most causes and grievances don’t rate a Dáil question?
We find ourselves asking each other questions that in a million years we’d never have dreamt of wasting a moment on – like, does a child really need his father and mother or might not the schoolmistress and the milkman, or the fireman and the milkman, be just as good? People are dizzy with this because when you try to answer an absurd question you come up only with absurdities.
Same-sex marriage is so radical an idea that it would make for a difficult sell even if the model on offer were free from detrimental consequences and canvassed with sensitivity and discretion as part of a listening process in which the normal checks and balances of democracy were in full working order. Since the opposite is the case here, the results can only be catastrophic. Almost nobody – including many an intimidated nodding Yesser – is ready for what a Yes is likely to mean, so that, in time, the consequences flowing from a Yes would create a climate of antagonism towards gay people far worse than anything conjured up in the lurid imaginations of LGBT lobbyists. A Yes would also be a green light to any group of bullyboys in Irish society with an agenda to peddle. In this campaign, the blueprint has been written, refined and road-tested, setting out how, by threatening, demonising, intimidating, and smearing you can have your way.
There will be other consequences too: a new climate of prohibition concerning certain forms of thought and speech, an Orwellian revisionism directed at texts and records bearing witness to old ideas. And if you think this extreme, ask yourself: who among our political class is likely to resist? The fingers of one hand will prove more than adequate to the task of enumerating them.
Read the whole thing.
We are dealing with a less intense version of the same thing here. Gay marriage is going to come to this country by Supreme Court vote next month, but do not be under the illusion that this will settle anything.
Read more: www.theamericanconservative.com