Referendum Commission will publish independent facts for voters
The constitutional status of marriage will remain unchanged whether or not the same-sex marriage referendum is carried on May 22 next. That is the view of the Independent Referendum Commission, which began operations yesterday.
The commission said if the same-sex marriage referendum is passed, marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same constitutional and legal status marriage between a man and a woman. Both types of married couple will be recognised as a family and be entitled to the State's protection, but the status of marriage will remain unchanged.
The commission will send out two million booklets by the end of this month setting out the issues in a dispassionate manner. It will spend a total of €2.7m on advertising for two referendums to be held on the same day.
The second vote concerns a proposal to lower the qualification age to hold the office of President of Ireland from 35 to 21.
In both cases, voters will be asked a simple 'Yes' or 'No' to two direct questions.
The commission chairman, Mr Justice Kevin Cross, said there would be no confusion on May 22 about the referendum question which was a simple 'Yes' or 'No' to same-sex marriage.
In the vote on the abolition of the Seanad in October 2013, some voters said they voted the "wrong way". Voters were asked to endorse or reject the abolition of the Seanad. But in surveys some 6pc said they voted 'No' in the belief that this meant they were voting for abolition.
To further avert any confusion the commission's information pack will, for the first time, include two sample ballot papers for the two separate referendums.