Article 41 of the Constitution
- The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.
- The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.
- In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
- The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.
- The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.
- A Court designated by law may grant a dissolution of marriage where, but only where, it is satisfied that –
- at the date of the institution of the proceedings, the spouses have lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during the previous five years,
- there is no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between the spouses,
- such provision as the Court considers proper having regard to the circumstances exists or will be made for the spouses, any children of either or both of them and any other person prescribed by law, and
- any further conditions prescribed by law are complied with.
- No person whose marriage has been dissolved under the civil law of any other State but is a subsisting valid marriage under the law for the time being in force within the jurisdiction of the Government and Parliament established by this Constitution shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage within that jurisdiction during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage so dissolved.
Article 41 2 (b) of the constitution states that a woman should not be forced from her children due to economic necessity. Yet this is the reality of living in Ireland in 2015 (‘One Parent Payment: I’m being stripped of my dignity‘, The Irish Times, 2015).
The family home, the seat of the natural and fundamental unit of Irish society, remains under threat with the Central Bank predicting 50,000 families being made homeless this year (When the bailiffs come knocking: The families facing down homelessness, The Irish Examiner, 2015).
It could be argued that the state has a responsibility to protect the institution of marriage against attack from reckless banking institutions, but it clearly hasn’t, as more and more families are living under the threat of eviction. so in reality;
Austerity policies and economic deprivation are more a threat to marriage and the family than any addition to Article 41 of the constitution.
There is evidence nowadays of many threats to the institution of marriage as mentioned in Article 41, but Article 41.4 I would argue, isn’t one of them.
For balance, I googled politics and the bible, and found this; ‘10 Political Things You Can’t do While Following Jesus‘.
10) Force your religious beliefs and practices on others.
One of the strengths of the faith Jesus taught was in its meekness. The faith he taught valued free will over compulsion – because that’s how love works. Compelling people to follow any religion, more or less your personal religion, stands over and against the way Jesus practiced his faith. If you are using the government to compel people to practice your spiritual beliefs, you might be the reason baby Jesus is crying.
In relation to the upcoming marriage equality referendum on May 22nd, Article 41 of the constitution will remain unchanged, not one comma moved. There will simply be an additional line that will read;
41.4 Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.
Nearly 100 years ago this state was founded on the following principles;
The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
The principle of equality dictates that marriage is either for all of us, or none of us.
Essentially, what this means is that if a concept or an institution is mentioned in the Irish constitution, it must pass the equality test, or not be included at all.
It could be proposed that if Article 41.4 is not added to Article 41 after May 22nd, an argument for the need for a more secularist state could be made, removing the institution of marriage entirely from the constitution.
These are my reasons for voting yes, thank you for taking the time to read them.