DUBLIN — The Republic of Ireland has become the first country in the world to vote for homosexual “marriage.” Once a beacon of hope for other countries fighting a rising tide of aggressive secularism, Ireland, through this decision, has moved into the vanguard of that very same secular revolution and now counts itself as one of a minority of European countries that will allow two men or two women to “marry.”
But the situation in Ireland may be worse than in other countries. Sixty-two percent of voters in last Friday’s referendum agreed to insert the following amendment into Article 41 of the Irish Constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” The institution of marriage has a rather exalted status in the Irish Constitution. Article 41 also declares, “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.”
In essence, therefore, the Irish state is bound by its constitution to guard homosexual “marriage” from attack.
This follows the passage two months ago of the Child and Family Relationships Act that made it legal for homosexual couples to adopt, thus deliberately depriving the child in such a context of either a mother or a father. It also extended rights to donor-assisted human reproduction to homosexuals and single people. Homosexual adoption is deeply controversial around the world. Yet this piece of legislation passed through the Dáil (Parliament) without the need for a vote, and with only two votes against it in the Seanad (Senate).
How did the radical homosexual agenda advance so rapidly in Ireland?
The first place to look is not Ireland itself, but the U.S.-based Atlantic Philanthropies organization founded by Irish-American Chuck Feeney. Atlantic Philanthropies has provided funding to many good causes. But large grants have also been made to so-called “progressive” causes, especially in Ireland. This includes approximately $17 million donated to the main groups who were part of the Yes Equality campaign group.
This money was instrumental in getting homosexual “marriage” onto the political agenda in the first place. For example, between 2005 and 2011, Atlantic donated $4.7 million to the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and subsequently boasted that the grant enabled GLEN to build a “full-time, highly professional lobbying machine” to work “inside the machinery of government” in Ireland, seeking to “embed long-lasting social change.”
Atlantic Philanthropies money can be found all over the Yes side of this campaign. A variety of nongovernmental organizations that have nothing to do with homosexuality (including migrants’ rights groups and children’s charities) added their support to the call for a Yes vote. One thing that linked these groups was the common denominator of funding from Atlantic Philanthropies. This single foundation has enabled the creation of a well-funded network of liberal activist NGOs that seem to have exerted considerable influence behind the scenes and within the political parties and media outlets to win over the doubtful and pacify opposition, as Atlantic Philanthropies has phrased it.
Opponents Had Limited Resources
As for the campaign itself, the groups on the No side did the best they could with limited resources and personnel. The No campaign was led by the Iona Institute and by Mothers and Fathers Matter. The main theme of the No campaign was that, by changing Article 41 of the constitution, the government was attempting to redefine not just marriage but also the family itself — and that with the right to marry would come the right to beget children. This could necessitate the provision of surrogacy services to homosexual male couples and would result in children being deliberately denied the benefit of having a mother in their lives.
In the end, it was impossible to overturn the large lead that the Yes campaign had built in the polls — less than six months ago, one poll suggested that only 17% would vote No. For five years, Irish citizens were subjected to a highly emotional propaganda campaign aimed at redefining marriage. This long campaign was built around personal stories from same-sex couples and facilitated by an entirely biased media.
Indeed, all of “Official Ireland” backed the Yes campaign — every political party and media outlet was supportive, and global technology companies like Twitter and Google also interfered in the vote. Groups representing American multinational businesses also went as far as threatening that Ireland could lose investment and jobs if there wasn’t a Yes vote.
Each day of the campaign saw different celebrities appeal for Yes votes, and this was especially influential with younger voters, who turned out in record numbers to back the change due to a successful social-media campaign to get them to the polling stations. Most of these young people are the products of Ireland’s Catholic school system. Homosexual activist groups have been speaking in Catholic schools for years under the laudable pretext of stamping out “homophobic bullying.” But the overwhelming support for redefining marriage among young people is surely due, in part, to the efforts of these campaigners to normalize homosexuality.
Yes Side’s Intolerance and the Role of the Church
One notable feature of same-sex “marriage” around the world is the intolerance it brings in its wake. Dissent from the new pro-same-sex “marriage” consensus seems to be no longer permissible. There are numerous cases of bakers and florists and other businesses that have been prosecuted because they declined to facilitate homosexual wedding ceremonies.
The same intolerance of dissenting views was on full display in this referendum. About half of the posters erected for the No side were removed or vandalized, often in broad daylight (warning: bad language), and with the perpetrators often boasting (warning: bad language) on social media about their criminal acts. This intolerance bodes ill for the future. The Irish government explicitly refused to provide legal opt-outs to protect businesspeople with conscientious objections. Legal action against those who do not embrace the new prevailing orthodoxy seems all but inevitable.
No analysis of the referendum would be complete without considering the role of the Church. It would be impossible to overestimate the damage that the child-abuse scandal and cover-up have done to the standing of the Catholic Church in Ireland. They have eroded much of the moral authority of the hierarchy, and as a result, the Irish bishops refused to tell Catholics that they should vote No in the referendum.
The main message of the hierarchy was that marriage is important and that voters should reflect before they change it. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin was quite emphatic that he wouldn’t tell people how to vote. Given the complex history of Church-state relations in Ireland, this was not necessarily a bad strategic position — Irish people do not take well to being “told how to vote” by bishops. Considerably less helpful, however, was Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry’s suggestion that Catholics could vote in favor of same-sex “marriage” in good conscience.
Is Legal Abortion Next?
So where to next for Ireland? The progressive elite already have their next target in sight — the repeal of the eighth amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn. While the effectiveness of this amendment is compromised due to the 1992 Supreme Court decision in the “X case,” it is still the only thing that stands in the way of European-style abortion on demand in Ireland. Groups like the Pro Life Campaign are now preparing for a fresh assault from the pro-abortion movement on the right to life, even within the next 12 months.
Irish Catholics stood alone to fight against homosexual “marriage” in the face of overwhelming U.S. funding for their opposition. Will the same happen when the next abortion referendum comes around?
Elizabeth Adams writes from Ireland.