Good News From Ireland

A large majority of voters have approved gay marriage:

Ireland’s citizens have voted in a landslide to legalize gay marriage, electoral officials announced Saturday–a stunningly lopsided result that illustrates what Catholic leaders and rights activists alike called a “social revolution.”

Friday’s referendum saw 62.1 percent of Irish voters say “yes” to changing the nation’s constitution to define marriage as a union between two people regardless of their sex. Outside Dublin Castle, watching the results announcement in its cobblestoned courtyard, thousands of gay rights activists cheered, hugged and cried at the news.

It wasn’t that long ago that Ireland was basically a Catholic theocracy. Now we find Church representatives talking like this:

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the “overwhelming vote” against church teaching on gay marriage meant that Catholic leaders in Ireland needed urgently to find a new message and voice for reaching Ireland’s young.

“It’s a social revolution. … The church needs to do a reality check right across the board,” said Martin, who suggested that some church figures who argued for gay marriage’s rejection came across as harsh, damning and unloving, the opposite of their intention.

“Have we drifted completely away from young people?” he asked. “Most of those people who voted ‘yes’ are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years.”

David Quinn, leader of the Catholic think tank Iona Institute, said he was troubled by the fact that no political party and only a half-dozen politicians backed the “no” cause.

“The fact that no political party supported them must be a concern from a democratic point of view,” he said.

Mr. Martin frets that the Church’s rejection of gay marriage came across as harsh, damning and unloving. How else could it come across? The problem is with the message, not with the messaging.

Recently I spent some time here considering the “natural law” arguments against gay marriage, and I was gearing up to do another such post in response to replies like this one from Vincent Torley at Uncommon Descent. As is typical for Torley, the post is very, very long. I would encourage him to master the art of breaking up lengthy posts into more manageable chunks, at least if he wants people to read and respond to him. Much of the post is given over to crude stereotypes of gay people, and much of what remains is based on putting words in my mouth.

Ultimately, though, I think the case for gay marriage can be expressed perfectly in just a single sentence:

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, a Cork politician whose opposition party is traditionally closest to the Catholic Church, said he couldn’t in good conscience back the anti-gay marriage side.

“It’s simply wrong in the 21st century to oppress people because of their sexuality,” he said.

Well said!

The anti-gay marriage forces are being overtaken by reality. The experiment has been done. Gay marriage has now been around for long enough and in enough places, that we could reasonably expect any harmful consequences to have shown themselves. There have been no such consequences, of course. The pseudo-intellectual, abstract, philosophical discourses of the natural law crowd can be met point by point on the merits, but it’s so much easier just to point to the empirical facts of the real world. If your abstract theorizing leads to the conclusion that legalizing gay marriage is a threat to society, then your theorizing is wrong. You may as well argue that no one can run a four-minute mile or that bumblebees cannot fly.

There is a parallel here with those who fear that as theistic belief wanes in a society, so too does its commitment to morality. Good philosophical reasons can be adduced for finding this fear unwarranted, but it’s so much simpler, again, just to point to reality. The experiment has been done, and our findings are the exact opposite of what we had been told to fear. The most scrupulously secular nations, and the ones with the highest percentage of self-described non-believers, are precisely the ones with the strongest commitment to social justice, decency, and morality.

Congratulations to Ireland for this victory for common sense and decency!

Comments

  1. #1 sean samis
    May 24, 2015

    Regarding, “It’s simply wrong in the 21st century to oppress people because of their sexuality”. Nah. It was always wrong, but now we know it and we know why, and have no more excuses.

    Congratulations and well done, Ireland!

    sean s.

  2. #2 See Noevo
    May 24, 2015

    “There is a parallel here with those who fear that as theistic belief wanes in a society, so too does its commitment to morality. Good philosophical reasons can be adduced for finding this fear unwarranted, but it’s so much simpler, again, just to point to reality.”

    Here’s some reality I see.
    In the last 50 years, American society has become INCREASINGLY IRRELIGIOUS. I think everyone would agree. But here are just a few stats: “Having no religious preference or affiliation” – 2014 (20%), 1992 (10%), 1965 (2%); “Religion not very important in your life” – 2013 (23%), 1992 (13%), 1965 (n/a).
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx

    And in the last 50 years, American society has seen a huge INCREASE IN
    – divorce,
    – extended or perpetual singlehood (i.e. not marrying),
    – sexually-transmitted diseases,
    – out-of-wedlock births and single mothers,
    – abortion and contraception,
    – pornography,
    – drug addiction,
    – depression and dysphoria,
    – social isolation/disintegration of community,
    – political and social divisiveness,
    – governmental payouts for welfare/unemployment/disability/food stamps,
    – government dysfunction,
    – distrust of government.

    (I didn’t have time to get stats on each, but I trust each increased significantly.)

    Coincidentally, someone sent me an email with this 90-second video just yesterday:
    https://www.youtube.com/embed/YjntXYDPw44

  3. #3 Logos
    May 24, 2015

    @See Noevo
    correlation is not causation (+cherry pick) : do question yourself.
    thank you

  4. #4 Michael Fugate
    May 24, 2015

    Of course, you didn’t get the stats. If you had, you would realized how wrong you are.

    Abortion rates are way down.
    Divorce rates are dropping.
    Gonorrhea rates are the lowest since before the 1940s.

    Those are just the ones I checked…..
    Most of these things have always been. No time in the past was better overall than it is now.

    And of course –
    Nothing wrong with using contraception. It is even smart to do so.
    Nothing wrong with not marrying.

  5. #5 See Noevo
    May 24, 2015

    To Michael Fugate #4:

    “Abortion rates are way down”? Since 1965? I don’t think so.
    Number of abortions in 1965: 794.
    Number of abortions in 2013: 1,000,000.
    http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/graphusabrate.html

    “Divorce rates are dropping”? From 1965?
    1965: (25%)
    2008 (50%)
    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005044.html
    http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Historical_Divorce_Rate_Statistics

    “Gonorrhea rates are the lowest since before the 1940s.”
    If that’s true, perhaps you can supply links to the data on the many other STDs, including AIDS and Hep-C.
    Again, 1965 vs. 2015ish.

    In the meantime, this is what I found tonight in my brief search: “Chlamydia: Largest Number of Cases Reported to Date, Yet Majority of Infections Still Undiagnosed”
    http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats07/trends.htm

    Those are just the ones I checked.

  6. #6 dean
    May 25, 2015

    It’s no surprise sn is wrong – being the congenital liar that he is. The divorce rate has never hit 50% – that was a simple projection made some time ago, based on a wad of weak assumptions. There isn’t even agreement on how to calculate the rate. From
    Dr. Rose M. Kreider, a demographer in the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch of the Census Bureau, in 2005,

    “At this point, unless there’s some kind of turnaround, I wouldn’t expect any cohort to reach fifty percent, since none already has.”

    But even if anything he said were true, there is still the point that it has nothing to do at all with religious belief or the lack of it. Several people have pointed out that in addition to the vote in Ireland being due to people simply being decent and realizing same sex marriage is a threat to nothing, many voters realized that the catholic church’s arguments about morality are vapid, given its long history of terrible behavior and winking away abuse of children by its employees, aided by advice from popes on how to keep the guilty away from the law.

  7. #7 dean
    May 25, 2015

    sn’s “source” for abortion rates is also false: the numbers there are grossly different from those at the cdc, and a review of credible sources all point out that the abortion rate is at its lowest in 40 years.
    since one of the ten commandments says you should not lie, and sn breaks it every time he types anything, he better hope the grading curve for entering heaven is kindly and he can get there with a 90.

  8. #8 Michael Fugate
    May 25, 2015

    SN, look at the last 20 years and you will see different trends. Many things peaked when they became legal or easier to obtain – like divorce (no fault late 60s) and abortions (1973). They are dropping now. HIV appeared in the human population (1981) – of course it was 0 in 1965. That has to be about the most dishonest rebuttal imaginable, but what else would we expect from you?

    So how do you explain the current trend? It is not a return to religion – perhaps education? Did you know that if we are to believe you phony cause and effect claims then one thing would be clear – as religion goes down, education goes up. Of course, I wouldn’t be as shallow a thinker as you to make a dubious claim without evidence. As Logos said – correlation is not causation.

  9. #9 See Noevo
    May 25, 2015

    To Michael Fugate #8:

    “… to believe you phony cause and effect claims then one thing would be clear – as religion goes down, education goes up.”

    Speaking of education, I’ll add that to my list above.

    “The percentage of high school seniors performing at or above the basic level in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) decreased from 80% in 1992 to 73% in 2005 (NCES, 2007). Over the same period, the percentage of high school seniors performing at or above the proficient level decreased from 40% to 35% (NCES, 2007). About 70% of high school students need some form of remediation; the most common problem is that students cannot comprehend the words they read—not that they cannot read them… Scores declined on each of NAEP’s three “reading contexts” between 1992 and 2005.”
    http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED507600.pdf

    “It’s appalling — it’s really astounding,” said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and a librarian at California State University at Fresno. “Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it. That’s not saying much for the remainder.”
    “The declining impact of education on our adult population was the biggest surprise for us, and we just don’t have a good explanation,” said Mark S. Schneider, commissioner of education statistics.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/24/AR2005122400701.html

    “Four in 10 U.S. college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work, according to the results of a test of nearly 32,000 students…
    “A survey of business owners to be released next week by the American Association Colleges and Universities also found that nine out of 10 employers judge recent college graduates as poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.”
    [from 1/16/2015 article in the WSJ titled “Test Finds College Graduates Lack Skills for White-Collar Jobs”]

  10. #10 Greg Esres
    May 25, 2015

    I will also point out that the social ills that SN describes are more prevalent among the religious and least common among atheists.

  11. #11 Michael Fugate
    May 25, 2015

    How many people in 1965 had complex reasoning skills? I bet it wasn’t higher.

  12. #12 eric
    May 26, 2015

    Congrats to the Irish! I’m sure SN is right, and in a few short years, their country will completely disintegrate and become an ungoverned Mad-Max style hellhole, just like the Netherlands became after it legalized SSM 15 years ago.

  13. #13 Michael Fugate
    May 27, 2015

    This article was written before the referendum, but shows how utterly dishonest the no campaign was. The Vatican secretary of state called the yes vote a “defeat for humanity” when it was only a defeat for bigotry and politicizing science. At least the people of Ireland saw through the lies and has realized that the RCC has squandered all claims to moral authority due to their past and current behavior.

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/22/why-the-bad-science-of-the-no-campaign-shouldnt-sway-irelands-voters

  14. #14 See Noevo
    May 28, 2015

    Here’s a timely piece on trends:
    http://spectator.org/articles/43728/hooray-censorship

  15. #15 See Noevo
    May 28, 2015

    Looks as though big progressive money from the U.S. turned the tide in Ireland.
    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/05/27/yes-campaign-emerges-victorious-in-irelands-same-sex-marriage-vote/

  16. #16 See Noevo
    May 28, 2015

    Michael Fugate above says the trend is looking better for gonorrhea.

    A nearby article seems to be saying the trend is looking better for gonorrhea, too. But in a different way:

    “The threat of these drug-resistant strains is getting worse. If the last recommended treatment stops working, America could once again face the health problems of the early 20th century.”
    http://www.cdc.gov/amd/project-summaries/treating-gonorrhea-threat.html

  17. #17 eric
    May 28, 2015

    What a nonsequitur. SN, what the heck does the observation of more antibiotic-resistant STDs among pregnant women have to do with SSM? Does it indicate that people often stop taking an antibiotic course before they should? Yes. Does it indicate people cheat on their spouses? Yes. Does it indicate that allowing gays to marry will increase antibiotic resistance in STDs? No.

  18. #18 Sean T
    May 28, 2015

    SN,

    Ironic, isn’t it, that you are using an example of evolution to bolster your argument.

  19. #19 Michael Fugate
    May 28, 2015

    If one wonders why the Irish no longer trust the moral authority of the Catholic Church – one need only look here as a place to start:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalene_laundries_in_Ireland

    If one wants to see the silliness of the Catholic argument against marriage equality – one need only look at the Iona Institute’s website. The crack priests pretending to be lawyers claim that marriage equality is not a human right because it is not universally viewed as such. Really that is one of their arguments.

  20. #20 Michael Fugate
    May 28, 2015

    What happen when theocrats are in charge:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/28/paraguay-abortion-child-rape-protest

    She’s 10! – what I am wondering is if they won’t allow an abortion what punishment for the rapist? SN what do you think? Anything in the Bible about raping 10 year olds? We know priests won’t get punished – just moved to a new locale. Is it different for the laity?

  21. #21 GregH
    Canada
    May 29, 2015

    While the SSM referendum was a landmark for the world outside the Vatican, Ireland still faces huge issues at home. Pervasive corruption is only one, but it’s a doozy:

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/may/29/irelands-media-silenced-over-mps-speech-about-denis-obrien

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