Minister launches attack on anti-gay marriage campaign
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has launched a stinging attack on anti-gay marriage campaigners using civil partnership laws to advocate for a No vote.
Mr Donohoe said it was "galling" to see people who opposed civil partnership "tooth and nail" now using the law to suggest gay couples do not need the same Constitutional rights as married couples.
Speaking at the 10-year anniversary dinner of Ireland's only gay football club, the Dublin Devils, the minister said he was impressed by how many people the Yes side had managed to get registered ahead of the referendum.
However, he insisted this was not enough and called on campaigners to reach out to No voters and those who are unsure how they will vote.
"We need to tell everyone what this referendum is about - it is about respect and the right to marry. It is, above all, about love and recognition of the fact that as all love is equal, so all love must be treated equally in our constitution," he added.
The minister said the Marriage Equality Referendum on May 22 is not about giving gay couples the right to adopt or religious marriage.
He also insisted the referendum is not about compelling any Church or school to teach anything contrary to an institute's "own spiritual outlook".
He accused the No side of using these issues to "muddy the waters" and distract from what the constitutional change would mean for gay couples.
"It is particularly galling to hear some people who opposed civil partnership then saying that they support civil partnership now," he added.
"It is also galling to see them using the existence of those partnership rights - partnership rights that they opposed tooth and nail - to suggest that loving committed gay and lesbian couples do not need the same Constitutional protection that married people enjoy."
Dublin Devils chairman Bill O'Rourke welcomed the minister's appearance at the event and said it showed how far the country had come.
"One of the main goals of this club is to break down stereotypes and provide a support network to gay men who love sport," Mr O'Rourke said.
"The lack of out gay men in major sports suggests that the sporting environment is still not as welcoming and inclusive as we would like Things are changing but slowly. Our team shows that we are sportsmen first, gay men second."