Since laws against consanguinity relate to childbearing, independent Irish Senator and gay activist David Norris has proposed that first cousins of the same sex should be allowed to marry, now that Ireland recognizes gay marriage.
“It would not take a feather out of me if two cousins married each other,’’ said Norris, a long-time proponent of same-sex marriage. “What is the problem with that?’’
Speaking in the Seanad during a debate this week on same-sex marriage legislation, Norris noted that laws prohibiting cousins from marrying were passed to protect the gene pool, and that same-sex marriage circumvents this problem.
Praising Ireland’s recent gay marriage referendum, Norris said it represented the culmination of a struggle lasting more than 40 years.
“When I started off, it was a world of hatred, contempt and silence,” he said. “Gay people were regarded as sources of sin, crime and disease.”
Norris refrained from giving his opinion regarding marriages between siblings of the same sex, though his logic would suggest that he sees no problem here either.
In a later moment, the senator hastened to reassure the public that he “wasn’t proposing incest or anything like this,” though incest is commonly defined as sexual relations between people classed as being too closely related to marry each other. Norris’ proposal underscores the fluid nature of such classifications.
In point of fact, Norris’ proposal was moot, given that Irish law does not forbid the marriage of first cousins, an element of the law that most Irish politicians and journalists seem unaware of.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome