DUBLIN (OSV News) — A pro-family campaign group has warned that a proposed March referendum in Ireland to amend the country’s constitution would be a “further downgrading of the importance of marriage to society.”
The Irish government announced Dec. 5 that it intended to ask the people next year to amend the 1937 document to provide for a wider concept of family and further to delete a provision on the role of stay-at-home mothers in favor of recognizing overall caregiving instead.
David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, a pro-family think-tank, told OSV News that while he would like more time to study the exact proposed working, “our initial response is that we would see the rewording of the section on the family to include relationships other than marriage as a further downgrading of the importance of marriage to society, indicating that the state does not see any special value in the institution of marriage.”
Changing the definition of family
Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar announced Dec. 5 that if the referendum passes, the document will change the definition of the family to being either “founded on marriage or on other durable relationships.”
It’s further proposed to remove the reference to marriage as the one on which the “family is founded.”
In a separate vote, citizens will be asked whether they want to delete the so-called “mothers in the home” section where the document currently “recognizes that by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.”
The Irish Constitution obliges the government to “endeavor to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labor to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
However, if passed, the referendum would delete this and instead recognize “that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved and shall strive to support such provision.”
What about the home?
Quinn also had reservations about this proposal.
“We note that the proposed replacement to the section on mothers in the home, no longer mentions the home at all. This seems highly significant. Why not mention the home? The government could make the language in this section gender neutral but still give special mention to the home and its value to people,” said the director of the Iona institute.
“But this fits in with the overall government philosophy which seems to prioritize the economy over the home and wishes as many people as possible to become members of the workforce and taxpayers,” Quinn warned.
Both votes are due to be held March 8, traditionally International Women’s Day. In 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage after voters opted by a 2-1 majority to redefine marriage in the constitution as between two people “without distinction as to their sex.”