Christians’ views on marriage are being disregarded by a heavy-handed Irish Civil Partnership Bill, a commentator says.
Those who refuse to comply with the controversial legislation could be given a six month jail term and a fine of up to €2,000.
Writing in response to an Irish politician’s call for a referendum on the issue, David Quinn warned that the penalties could cause “more and more people to wake up to what is happening”.
Mr Quinn, writing in the Irish Independent, criticised the Irish Government for not allowing a conscience clause to be inserted into the legislation.
He also said the law would “greatly undermine the special status accorded to marriage”.
Mr Quinn, in what he calls an “awful” step, said Ireland’s political system “no longer seems to see any special value in marriage”.
He wrote: “Marriage gains its special status by receiving special treatment in the form of rights and benefits unique to it.
“Why is it treated uniquely? Because it is unique. Out of all the myriad forms of relationships that people can form, only it can provide a child with a mother and a father who have made a formal, public commitment to one another.
“As study after study has shown, children benefit from this. Like it or not, no other form of the family is as good for children, in general.
“The facts are politically incorrect”, he said.
The Civil Partnership Bill would grant welfare and tax benefits on a par with marriage to homosexual couples who enter a civil partnership.
The Bill also contains new rights for cohabiting couples, whether same-sex or heterosexual.
Earlier this month a group of 19 church leaders wrote to a national newspaper expressing their deep concerns at the plans.
The leaders said the bill is a “direct attack” on freedom of conscience and religion.
In January Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said there would be no “freedom of conscience” clause in the Bill.
Mr Ahern said it would be “against public policy to permit State officials to choose not to perform certain of their official functions on the grounds that to do so would be contrary to their religious beliefs”.