herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Bishops 'no' to civil part of marriage

A SENATOR took a swipe at Elton John, a father of surrogate children, during a debate on the same-sex marriage.

"We don't want an Elton John scenario here," Independent Ronan Mullen said on The Week in Politics yesterday.

The singer, who married his film producer partner David Furnish last year, has two sons born to a surrogate mother.

Mr Mullen (inset) has been campaigning for a No vote in next month's referendum.

He faced off against Senator Katherine Zappone who asked what good a No vote would achieve during the RTE TV debate.

"The absence of marriage equality tells lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people that their relationships and lives are not worthy of equal protection," she said.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops reaffirmed their stance that the church will no longer carry out the civil part of wedding ceremonies if marriage equality is extended to gay couples.

The refusal would affect tens of thousands of heterosexual couples if the referendum passes.

A senior spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops said he believed priests are unlikely to have any issue with the hierarchy's decision to force all couples marrying in the church to carry out the civil aspect of their marriage elsewhere.

For a wedding in Ireland to be legally recognised, it must be solemnised by a person on the register of civil solemnisers.

Some 4,121 of the 5,461 people on the register are Catholic priests.

delay

Only 107 civil registrars are listed, so the move would result in a significant delay for couples seeking to have their marriage legally recognised by the State.

"If the referendum is passed, the church's view and the State's view of marriage will be radically different," the spokesman said.

"It's reasonable that the bishops would decide to separate the two. A priest's role is to join two people in the eyes of God only."

ANDREW LYNCH: PAGE 14

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