On Dec. 14, the Ireland High Court rejected a lesbian couple’s demand to have their Canadian “marriage” recognized in Ireland, in a landmark ruling closely watched by both sides of the international marriage debate. Justice Elizabeth Dunne decided against the claim of Dr. Katherine Zappone and Dr. Anne Louise Gilligan, who had argued that the state and Revenue Commissioners had violated their constitutional rights by refusing to assess them for taxes as a married couple, the Irish Times reported.

“Marriage was understood, under the 1937 Constitution, to be confined to persons of the opposite sex,” Dunne wrote in her lengthy ruling. “Having regard to the clear understanding of the meaning of marriage as set out in the numerous authorities opened to the court from this jurisdiction and elsewhere, I do not see how marriage can be redefined by the court to encompass same-sex ‘marriage.’”

Zappone, a public policy research consultant and member of the Human Rights Commission, and Gilligan, who lectures at St. Patrick’s College in Dublin, are homosexual activists who have been pursuing a change in Ireland’s marriage laws in order to permit homosexual couples to legally marry.

When Canadian courts began recognizing same-sex “marriage” in 2003, the pair travelled to Vancouver in September 2003 to “marry,” then used their Canadian “marriage” to attempt to force recognition by the Irish government.

Dunne rejected the couple’s argument that international acceptance of homosexual “marriage” was reason enough for re-evaluation of Irish law. “The plaintiffs referred frequently in the course of this case to the “changing consensus,” but I have to say the there is little evidence of that,” she wrote. “The consensus around the world does not support a widespread move towards same-sex “marriage.” There has been some limited support for the concept of same-sex ‘marriage’ as in Canada, Massachusetts and South Africa, together with … three European countries … but, in truth, it is difficult to see that as a consensus, changing or otherwise.”

In her 138-page ruling, Dunne expressed concern about the effect of same-sex “marriage” on children, saying the lack of conclusive research into the results of homosexual parenting made it necessary to reserve judgment on the issue. There “is simply not enough evidence from the research done to date that could allow firm conclusions to be drawn as to the consequences of same-sex ‘marriage,’ particularly in the area of the welfare of children.” The U.S.-based Institute for Marriage and Public Policy commented on the Irish court decision, saying: “Of particular interest may be the court’s discussion about the evidence purporting to show no difference between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by married couples. The judge accepted testimony about the methodological shortcomings of available evidence and said: ‘It also seems to me, having regard to the criticism of the methodology used in the majority of the studies conducted to date, that until such time as there are more longitudinal studies involving much larger samples, that it will be difficult to reach firm conclusions on this topic.’” Dunne said the decision to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples apart from marriage should be up to the legislature, not the courts. Currently, in Ireland, legislation has been proposed that would permit homosexual couples to enter into civil unions with some of the legal benefits given to married heterosexual couples.

A version of this story originally appeared Dec. 15 on LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted and adapted with permission.