The Editor, The Irish Times,
24-28 Tara Street,
Dear Madam, The Iona Institute (letters 21st Nov.) seems to have a strangely reductive view of marriage, and why the state should recognise it. It seems it's really about child welfare and nothing else: "adult sexual intimacy" is apparently an entirely inadequate reason. How about love, and commitment, and mutual support, and shared ideals, and shared responsibilities, and caring for one's partner in illnesses, up to death? The state also has a vested interest in supporting all of these, long after the children, if any, have flown the nest. (Even a financial interest, if you bother to do the sums). Married people who can't have children, or who choose not to, will not thank this new Institute for telling them that their marriages are a meaningless sham.
In its focus on child welfare as the sole reason for recognising marriage, the Iona Institute, presumably inadvertently, does of course provide one very strong argument for allowing a great many lesbian and gay couples to marry now. Right throughout the country, such couples are already bringing up children, either from previous relationships, or children who have been born during the relationship. Many of these couples do indeed need the mutual protections and responsibilities of marriage to ensure that their children have a secure family with two recognised parents. Most single parents do a wonderful job, but if there a second parent on hand it's absurd not to recognise her or him.
It should not be the function of the state to tell adult citizens whom they can or cannot marry. Even less the function of the Iona Institute.
© 2007 The Irish Times