Remember Portugal, everybody?
You know Portugal: extreme western European country (snap!); with the Catholic conservatism (snap!); and the economy that didn’t really feel much of a boom over the past couple of decades before the bottom fell out of, well, everything (hm, that’s where Ireland and Portugal differ slightly).
Well, if you can imagine that society – like family-oriented, Catholic little Oireland, but warmer – and then ramp up the social conservatism just a little bit, that’s probably approaching the mind-set of one of their judges.
Yet, Portugal’s Constitutional Court – the highest court that can rule on issues of constitutionality – has today issued its judgment that expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex relationships is permissible.
This is in the context of Portugal’s constitution, which obliges the state to uphold and protect marriage and the family.
(Well, apart from the clear absence of the DeV effect stamped all over Portugal’s founding document..)
Yet, here in Ireland, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform (he’s no longer Minister for Equality, since the cabinet reshuffle – appropriate, I think), Dermot Ahern, will hide behind “the advice of the Attorney General” – which is never published for all to see – and will insist that marriage equality is unconstitutional in Ireland. Even though in Ireland – just like in Portugal – it is for the highest court to decide on issues of constitutionality (in our case, it’s the Supreme Court), and not a political appointee.
Portugal’s President, Anibal Cavaco Silva – who referred the legislation to the Constitutional Court with his concerns – now must either sign or veto it within the next 20 days. If vetoed, the parliament may nevertheless have a majority to override the President’s veto.
So, should we regard this as something of a gauntlet, thrown down by a fellow staunchly Roman Catholic country?
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