Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Senator David Norris doesn’t want a dog licence

November 2nd, 2007 · 5 Comments · Cop Out, Gay, Homophobia, Irish Politics, Lesbian, LGBT, Same Sex Partnerships, Seanad Eireann

The matter of same-sex partnerships came up for discussion in Seanad Eireann yesterday. David Norris was hurting like lots of other lesbians and gay men and he wasn’t afraid to let people know.

Senator David Norris: The principal point I wish to raise is the question of what occurred in the Dáil yesterday and its impact on our legislative programme. The Labour Party put forward its Civil Unions Bill. I experienced a sense of déjà vu and great sadness. It is now four years since I put on the Order Paper of this House the Civil Partnership Bill. Had the Government acted then to support what is a reasonable measure which does not claim marriage, we would now have this law enacted.

The spectre of unconstitutionality has been raised, which is rubbish. Nobody really believes it. That is a creation of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, or as I prefer to call it, the Department of discrimination. The discrimination is emanating from that Department and, unfortunately, we have a decent man, who is well on the way to becoming the Minister for discrimination, in violation of the position adopted in this House by a former Fianna Fáil Minister and Deputy, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. I recall her saying that she, as a Cabinet Minister, would require clear, cogent and factual reasons to introduce discrimination against a citizen.

I have listened to people in this House and in the other one compare the degree of recognition which I would get to somebody with a pet, to a couple of nuns and to a couple of elderly sisters. I repeat what I said yesterday that I am not prepared to accept a dog licence. I am not a second-class citizen, nor will I remain so.

An Cathaoirleach:Is the Senator calling for the introduction of the Bill?

Senator David Norris:I hold up a heavy weight of five folders each with individual sheets and each sheet containing an agonised plea to me about certain aspects of this Bill, especially about Irish citizens in relationships with non-EU citizens. I call on the Government to get off its backside and do something about it. I am not prepared to wait.

Will the Leader give Government time before Christmas to take the Civil Partnership Bill 2004 in my name? If we had done this in 2004, it could easily have been tested. There is a mechanism. We can refer a Bill to the Supreme Court. We are not concerned about constitutionality or protecting the family.

I greatly resent what the Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan, said in the Dáil yesterday that the constitutional aspect involved a possible attack on the family. I say very clearly to all my colleagues in this House that granting me a minimum amount of decency, which almost every other country in Europe has granted, cannot be constituted as an attack on the family. How dare anyone say that to a decent upright citizen such as me and the many thousands of gay people who have lived in servitude for the past 60 years, of which the republican party should be thoroughly ashamed.

and later… Senator John Hanafin from Fianna Fáil made his views known (what’s rare is not wonderful!) – and the repartee began. (One can see what Norris has to endure from time to time from the other side of the house.)

Senator John Hanafin: I support the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, in his decision to rule out gay marriage because it is in conflict with the Constitution and I look forward to the civil partnership Bill. I am reminded of a story told about Sir Thomas More, whose son constantly asked him to do something about a man with whom he had a problem. Sir Thomas More asked his son whether his problem was to do with something against the law of man or the law of God. His son replied it was against the law of God and Sir Thomas More advised him to let God deal with it. However, Sir Thomas More was subsequently asked to recognise the marriage of Henry VIII and therein lies the difference. We are being asked to recognise gay marriage, something I am not prepared to do. What people do in their own homes is one thing; I may not agree with it but that is their own business—-

Senator David Norris: How very generous of Senator Hanafin.

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Hanafin without interruption.

Senator John Hanafin: However, when I am asked to call it a marriage, that is something I am not prepared to do.

Senator David Norris: Nobody cares what Senator Hanafin calls it.

An Cathaoirleach: I ask Senator Norris to respect other speakers. He has already made his contributio

Senator David Norris: I am tired of being insulted in this House and having the tissue of religion used hypocritically to put me in a second class place and I am not a second class citizen in this country and I will not be a second class citizen. That is rubbish from Senator Hanafin. On the few occasions he speaks it is to blackguard people like me.

There were other expressions of support for civil unions during the order of business including one from Eoghan Harris which spoke in favour or marriage and marriage rights being given to same-sex couples.



5 Comments so far