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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ireland, the Pope, and a Justice

Last week, in a country-wide referendum, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage by a convincing 62% of the heavy voter turn-out across the Emerald Isle. Of the 19 countries that have marital equality, Ireland stands alone in legalizing same-sex marriage via voter referendum.

The result was somewhat surprising considering that Ireland is overwhelmingly Catholic and only recently [1993] decriminalized homosexuality.

The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, presumably speaking on behalf of the Prelate, equated the vote to a defeat, not only of Christian values, but for humanity as a whole. The result of this referendum will, of course, continue to widen the chasm between Ireland and the Holy See.

The result of the referendum in Ireland is also unusual to the extent that wherever there is marital equality, it comes about through litigation or some form of civil rights struggle; rarely through an old fashioned plebiscite.

Here in the United States, for example, 39 states have legalized same-sex marriages; usually as the result of civil rights law suits challenging state laws that prohibit same-sex marriage. Next month, the SCOTUS is expected to decide Michigan's DeBoer case along with the companion cases arising from the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding state law bans on same-sex marriages and adoptions.

The DeBoer case could come down to the swing vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, an Irish Catholic. Obviously, we would not expect the Justice to be swayed by events completely unrelated to the case. To us here at the Law Blogger, however, it does seem ironic that as Justice Kennedy writes his opinion on this civil rights case, events that involve the head of his church and the land of his forefathers focus the world's attention on the issue of marriage equality.

The SCOTUS decision in the DeBoer case is expected by the end of the term in late June. Stay tuned.

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