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Giorgio: Ireland Leads the Way

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Paul Giorgio

Who would have thought that the tiny country of Ireland would have moved to the forefront of the Gay Rights Movement in the world?  Ireland that most Catholic of countries, voted last week to legalize gay marriage. While they are not the first country in the world to do so, Ireland was the first country to do so by a popular vote.

Last week 62 percent of the voters in the Emerald Isle voted to allow gay people to marry. The turnout was 60 percent and all but one district out of 43 voted in favor. The vote for the measure in Dublin was close to 70 percent.

The vote was more dramatic because the Catholic Church dominates the politics of the country. The education system is dominated by parochial schools and abortion is illegal. However the church has suffered severe setbacks as scandal after scandal has plagued it, much like it has in the United States.

Alex White, a government minister, said: “This didn’t change Ireland — it confirmed the change."  It is clear that the power of the Catholic Church is ebbing away. A country that was once seen as a quasi-Theocracy has now taken the lead on Gay Rights.

How will Ireland affect the debate in America?

How will this vote in Ireland impact the United Sates? The US Supreme Court is set to rule on gay marriage before it adjourns for its summer recess. A decision is expected in the next week or two.  Currently, 37 states allow gay marriage. The courts decision will only ultimately affect those last thirteen. But in effect it will grant rights in the constitution to a whole class of people. Out of the 13 states that don’t allow same sex marriage only three, Georgia, North Dakota and Nebraska, have no pending legal action on the issue. The ten others are all part of the Supreme Court case.  In each of those ten states the courts have ruled for marriage equality, but have stayed its implementation until the US Supreme Court can rule. Most legal scholars believe the court will continue to strike down laws against marriage inequality, because it creates two classes of citizens.

The Holy Cross College factor.

The Irish vote may influence some of the judges, a majority of who are Catholic. The other three justices are Jewish, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagin.  In an interesting side note, the school that three of the justices are affiliated with is Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross. Clarence Thomas is a graduate, Anthony Scalia’s son is a graduate and Chief Justice John Robert’s wife is a trustee.

So will the liberal Jesuits have any influence? Only time will tell.

With Ireland less a theocracy, does that leave the United Sates as the only quasi theocratic country in the western world?  It is clear that protestant evangelicals control the Republic Party and its philosophy.

Goldwater saw it coming.

I think former Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater and the father of modern conservatism may have said it best.

“Mark my word; if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”

Well, the born again preachers do wield great influence over politics in the Republican Party, from Mike Huckabee to Pat Robertson. They have taken the party away from the Eisenhower/Nixon eastern country club republicans who once dominated it and were concerned about fiscal issues. Now, the litmus test for Republicans is abortion and gay rights.

End religious influence.

This is the same kind of influence that Catholic Cardinals and Bishops once wielded over the Democratic Party and the Catholic immigrants who dominated it. The Catholic Church in America is still dominated by those conservative Bishops who are mostly of Irish descent.

Maybe they need to take a lesson from their kin- folk in Ireland and realize that compassion and caring is what religion is all about. We have had enough of the fire & brimstone and eternal damnation from Born Again Christians and the Catholic Church.


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