AN UNPRECEDENTED number of submissions have been made to the Constitutional Convention ahead of next month’s discussions on whether to recommend a constitutional amendment to allow for full same-sex civil marriage.
1,029 submissions were made to the committee before last Tuesday’s deadline for submissions.
By comparison, 28 were received when the convention sought public submissions on proposals to lower the voting age, and only 21 were received on shortening the presidential term of office to five years.
Many of the submissions were made by interest and lobby groups, though most were submitted by individual members of the public.
The convention will consider the submissions before holding a two-day event to decide on a possible change to the constitution in three weeks’ time.
Convention chairman Tom Arnold said he was pleased that so many people had engaged with the convention on the issue.
“The issue of same sex marriage is extremely important for many people across Ireland and as such it is important that the views and opinions of as many citizens as possible are taken into account by the members of the Convention,” he said.
The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said its analysis of the submissions revealed an approximate three-to-one ratio of submissions favouring full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Its own submission said it was “deeply regrettable” that the current constitution – which does not explicitly limit marriage to couples of the opposite sex – had been “interpreted by the courts to exclude lesbian and gay couples”.
“While this constitutional barrier is in force, lesbian and gay men will not have full equality under our constitution,” it says.
The IONA Institute’s submission argued that family structure “matters for children, and the family structure that helps the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage”.
“Those who insist, in the name of ‘equality’, that marriage between a man and a woman should no longer have special status have to ignore or downplay the importance to a child of having their own loving mother and father married to one another and active and engaged in their lives,” it says.
It adds: “Marriage does not have special status because of adults. It has special status because of children.”