Betting on Same Sex Marriage in Ireland
For much of the last year headlines across the world have been dominated by the issue of gay marriage. In many places it has been legalized, in a few places referendums to allow gay marriage failed to pass and in many more places the debate is on-going.
At present there is talk of holding a referendum in Ireland and much speculation about what the outcome may be. With bookmakers already offering odds it seems appropriate to try and understand how they go about setting them.
In recent weeks the issue of same-sex marriage has turned up in two places: Croatia, where a referendum on the issue was held earlier this month and Utah, where a federal judge ruled that the state’s ban on same sex marriage was illegal. These two examples are particularly pertinent to Ireland as they are both regions where religion is a major factor within society.
At the beginning of the month voters in Croatia backed a proposal to ban same-sex marriage. The country held a referendum on whether to change Croatia’s constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman and two thirds of those who voted were in favor of the referendum.
Almost 90% of Croatia’s population is Roman Catholics and the church was strongly urging everyone to back the referendum. Furthermore, 104 of Croatia’s 151 politicians were in favor of the referendum.
After the vote President Ivo Josipovic said that while he was disappointed by the outcome, he was not surprised. Prior to the vote, Josipovic, various human rights groups and public figures had all spoken out urging the public to vote no. Josipovic said that the referendum threatened people’s right to happiness and choice and he has promised to push forward proposals that will give greater rights to same-sex couples.
There were also a number of pro-gay rights protesters that marched for an hour through Zagreb and unfurled a huge rainbow flag outside parliament. Speaking at the event, activist Sanja Juras said, “We urge voters… to protect minority rights so that no-one in Croatia becomes a second-class citizen.”
In Utah a federal judge has just ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex weddings was unconstitutional and within hours the first same-sex weddings were taking place. However, at the same time officials were already promising to appeal the decision and to ask for an emergency stay.
The state’s Attorney General’s Office has now filed an appeal and the request for a stay will shortly follow suit. In a statement spokesman Ryan Bruckman said, “The federal district court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous casino in the 10th Circuit.”
As soon as the judge’s ruling was announced, the District Attorney in Salt Lake County, Sim Gill, said that the county clerk could start issuing marriage licenses. They were initially sought by about 120 couples and some of them asked County Clerk Sherrie Swenson to perform the ceremony straightaway.
The issue of same-sex marriage arose in Utah when a lawsuit was brought by two gay men; in his ruling on the case U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby said that the state law was a violation of the men’s right to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution.
Shelby found that, “The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”
Similar to Croatia, a large proportion of Utah is religious. In a 2008 survey 58% of the state’s population defined themselves as belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints while 10% defined themselves as Catholic. Only 16% of the state’s population said that they were unaffiliated with any religion.
At first glance things in Ireland look very similar. Over 84% of the population of Ireland belong to the Roman Catholic Church and almost half the country attends church on a weekly basis. However, a 2008 survey found that 84% of Irish people support same-sex marriage.
Another poll was conducted this year for Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, it found that 76% of voters intend to support the introduction of same-sex marriage in any referendum, 18% opposed and 6% were undecided. The poll clearly explains the odds on offer on the issue, Paddy Power is offering odds of 5/2 on a referendum failing but odds of 1/4 for it passing, making it a clear favorite.