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'Campaign for Conscience' lodges Supreme Court challenge to same-sex partnerships

The Mayo-based group believes major parts of the Civil Partnership Act are in conflict with the Constitution and therefore illegal.

Image: firemedic58 via Flickr

A MAYO-BASED campaign which promotes “freedom of conscience” has launched a Supreme Court challenge against Ireland’s law on same-sex partnership, claiming that large sections of the act are unconstitutional.

The Campaign for Conscience (C4C), led by the Burke family from Castlebar, have lodged papers with the Supreme Court claiming that 171 sections of the 208-section Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 are in breach of the Constitution.

The group believes that the Act – passed by the Oireachtas and signed into law by President Mary McAleese last summer – violates the Constitution’s declaration that all authority is derived from God, as declared in Article 6.1 of the Constitution.

That Article states that all power of the government, the Oireachtas and the courts “derive, under God, from the people”.

The group also argues that the Act is in breach of “the Christian character of the Constitution”, which they claim is established by the Preamble which sees the Irish people acknowledge “all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ”.

Specifically, the group claims that sections 1 through 170, and section 208 – in effect, the entire Act, except for the provisions relating to cohabitation – are in breach of the Constitution, and wants those section of the Act to be declared invalid.

The group had lodged a similar action at the High Court in February, but the action was struck out in July on appeal by the State who argued that the case disclosed “no reasonable cause of action”.

The matter has been appealed to the Supreme Court on the basis that C4C’s case is “inherently plausible”, urgent and in the public interest. Books of Appeal were lodged last Friday and an application for priority is to be made before the Chief Justice, Susan Denham.

The C4C group had opposed the introduction of what was then the Civil Partnership Bill last year, arguing that the government was “legislating on conscience” by making it a criminal offence for registrars to refuse to perform a civil partnership.

Literature distributed at the time argued that “if a registrar can be criminalised, so also can a photographer who refuses to photograph a civil ceremony, a hotel owner who refuses to rent out a room and so on.”

The group also opposed David Norris’s candidacy for president, setting up a ‘David Norris 4 President‘ website which Burke says raised questions about Norris’s now-infamous 2002 Magill interview six months before it was discussed in mainstream media.

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