The College Tribune spoke to Senator Ivana Bacik of the Labour Party about the issue of same-sex marriage in a modern Ireland.
Ivana Bacik is described on the Labour Party website, sildenafil as someone with “a proven track record in campaigning on a range of human rights, click environmental and women’s rights issues.” She has also been vocal in her support of same-sex marriage.
“Our understanding of marriage and the nature of marriage has changed dramatically over the years and over the centuries… not that long ago in Ireland it was the extended family who raised children rather than the married couple or the nuclear family,” She continued, “we’ve had a changing understanding of the nature of family and of marriage.”
Bacik points out that, “until 1996 in Ireland there was no divorce and marriage was for life and the referendum that brought in divorce changed our understanding of marriage too.”
As part of this changing perception of what marriage means, Bacik points to the wider world, where ideas of marriage are evolving that provide for the acceptance of same-sex marriage.
“If you look around the world, it’s not just something in Ireland, but we see the nature of marriage and the understanding of marriage changing in many countries… We see an understanding of marriage as encompassing marriage for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.” She continued, “marriage is about an expression of love, it’s about people making a public expression of their love for each other. That’s the primary purpose of marriage and that’s the understanding I think most people today would have of marriage.”
Speaking about the notion that marriage and the raising of children are inextricably linked, Bacik voices her belief that the primary purpose of marriage is to express love between two people, rather than being necessarily linked to children.
“I think there are an awful lot of examples of marriages where children aren’t contemplated”, contends Bacik, continuing, “For many marriage is about children, but equally on in three births is outside marriage in Ireland. So for many people having children is nothing to do with marriage either… I think it’s no longer accurate to conflate or to assume that marriage is all about children, because it’s clearly not.”
Bacik agrees with her Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, who recently described marriage equality is the civil-rights issue of our time. She sees the current movement as a continuation of all that came before it. “I see it in the tradition of the civil-liberties movement and the civil-rights movements of the past… If you look at the Stonewall campaign for gay rights in the sixties, you can see that this is the modern equivalent and the successor to that.”
Bacik does not agree with the line of thinking that gay and straight couples are not the same, therefore they can never be truly equal.
“I think people are the same…if we start making a case for different treatment based on sexuality or indeed race or gender in our laws it is problematic. I mean other than the very obvious for maternity leave for example. So I think to suggest that the love two gay people have for each other is somehow different than the love two straight people have for each other is, to me, that’s discrimination.”
She states that she does not believe that there is any intrinsic value to a child having parents of both genders. “People make all sorts of family formations and there’s different ways in which families are formed and giving people a hierarchy of preference, again, we’re getting into dangerous territory.”
In debates that Bacik has taken part in, her opponents have often pointed out that her support of gender quotas in the Dáil doesn’t weigh up with her opinions regarding gender and same-sex marriage. When asked about this she stated, “I was amazed at the crazy logic behind that argument. I couldn’t even treat it seriously to be honest.”
Apart from being a Labour Senator, Ivana Bacik is also a barrister and junior council in the Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone case. These two women are challenging the Irish State to have their marriage recognized. Their case asserts that the reference to marriage in the constitution does actually provide for both gay and straight marriage. If they were to win their case no referendum would be required to legislate for same-sex marriage in Ireland.
– James Grannell