Irish PM surprised at voters strong defence of marriage in constitution

Originally published in Faithwire

Voters in Ireland swiftly rejected a governmental referendum aimed at redefining language in the nation’s constitution centering on the importance of marriage and the family.

The country’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, was surprised by the failure.

“Clearly we got it wrong,” he said. “While the old adage is that success has many fathers and failure is an orphan, I think, when you lose by this kind of margin, there are a lot of people who got this wrong and I am certainly one of them.”

According to the Electoral Commission of Ireland, the 39th amendment — over which citizens voted on International Women’s Day — would have changed verbiage in Article 41 of the Irish constitution, “The state recognises the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

Specifically, the proposal would have altered the article to remove wording stating the institution of marriage is the principle “on which the family is founded.” The amendment, had it been approved by the Irish people, would have broadened the article to include both marriage and “other durable relationships” and would have nixed the statement calling marriage the institution “on which the family is founded.”

The article goes on to state the family best thrives when the mother is present within the home.

In Article 41, it declares, “The state recognizes that, by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” It adds, “the state shall, therefore, 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.”

Ahead of the vote last Friday, the Ireland Catholic Bishops’ Conference released a statement expressing its opposition to the proposal.

“We are concerned that the proposed family amendment to the constitution diminishes the unique importance of the relationship between marriage and family in the eyes of society and the state and is likely to lead to a weakening of the incentive for young people to marry,” read a statement from the group.

It continued, “The proposed amendment would have the effect of abolishing all reference to motherhood in the constitution and leave unacknowledged the particular and incalculable societal contribution that mothers in the home have made and continue to make in Ireland.”

While the argument was made that the language about women is discriminatory, the religious leaders argued the wording “does not in any way inhibit women from working or taking their proper place in social and public life.”

“It does, however, respect the complementary and distinct qualities that arise naturally within the family,” the explained. “The role of mothers should continue to be cherished in our constitution.”

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, acknowledged Ireland’s swift move to the left — noting its embrace of same-sex marriage in 2015 and legalization of abortion in 2018 — while arguing the country, a traditionally Roman Catholic society, is potentially struggling to shed the innate “impulses” to see the value in family.

“A lot has gone into that and there is no doubt that that secularization is very pervasive,” he said on Tuesday’s episode of his podcast, “The Briefing.” “But the action taken by voters in Ireland over the weekend reminds us that, even in a society that thinks itself secularized, there are impulses it might not be able to name, though those impulses are still very much alive.”

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