I will vote 'Yes' in same-sex marriage poll - McAleese
Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30
Former President Mary McAleese has said she is voting "Yes" in the same-sex marriage referendum on May 22.
Ms McAleese, who is known for her strong Catholic faith but has also challenged the church authorities on occasion, said she and her husband, Martin, supported the constitutional change, which she said was about human rights.
Her comments on Newstalk Radio came as the Catholic bishops said they had yet to decide what stance they would take on civil marriage if the referendum, which they oppose, is passed.
Earlier, the bishops' spokesman had pointed to a statement last March. In this statement, the hierarchy had said they would reconsider taking part in the civil element of the marriage ceremony, if gay marriage were permitted in Ireland.
Already, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said that no church will be obliged to carry out gay wedding ceremonies which are against that church's laws. Gay rights campaigner, Tiernan Brady, said he had no comment on the bishops' statements.
"This referendum is about civil marriage. Nobody is seeking to change any church's rights or laws," Mr Brady said.
Speaking from Notre Dame University in the USA, former President McAleese said she and her husband had given the issue a great deal of thought.
"It is a debate about children. People have been saying it's about children. And we believe it to be about Ireland's gay children and about their future and about the kind of future we want for Ireland.
"We want, in the words of the Proclamation, the children of a nation to be cherished equally," she told presenter George Hook.
"The adult children, the children yet unborn, the gay children yet unborn - we want them to be born into a world where if they fall in love with someone they can express that love fully," she added.
"I'm hoping very much, my husband and I are both hoping very much, that it will be passed," Ms McAleese said.
"We believe it to be a human rights issue."
The Referendum Commission also began its campaign to promote awareness of the two referendums on same-sex marriage and the reduction of the age for presidential candidates from 35 to 21.
The independent body responsible for explaining the proposals and encouraging people to vote, will send two million booklets to households at the end of the month. The commission will advertise on TV, radio, online and in newspapers.