Saturday 24 September 2016

'The country voted for our family today,' Same-sex couples celebrate Yes vote

David Kearns

Published 23/05/2015 | 15:27

Paula Fagan and partner Denise Charlton at the referendum count in the RDS
Paula Fagan and partner Denise Charlton at the referendum count in the RDS

Families across Ireland are celebrating the news that the country has voted overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage.

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During the marriage equality referendum, a narrative emerged that a family required a mother and a father. But now this view is sure to be replaced with one more reflective of modern Ireland.

“We have a civil partnership but the next step now for us is to marry,” said Paula Fagan, who has two young boys with her partner Denise Charlton.

“To have our family recognised in the Constitution for the first time ever will be an amazing feeling.”

“Today is very important for us because it tells our children that Ireland and its people support and respect our family."

“While they didn’t fully understand, our kids knew the country was voting on their mums’ relationship.”

“If it had been no today, it would have been very hard to tell them.”

Paula Fagan and partner Denise Charlton at the referendum count in the RDS
Paula Fagan and partner Denise Charlton at the referendum count in the RDS

Ms Fagan and Ms Charlton said there was a “tangible feeling in knowing that your relationship was not seen as valuable” by the State.

“Initially when we went into this, it wasn’t about the kids,” said Ms Charlton, talking about the pair’s decision to enter into a civil partnership.

“It wasn’t about formalising our relationship… We did it for our children, because we wanted to show that we had a commitment to one another if something happened to one of us.”

“When you’ve no rights, you’ve very little room to manoeuvre,” she added.

Now planning to wed in a civil marriage, the pair said that the campaign leading into the referendum had been difficult at times.

“It’s not been an easy thing to knock on people’s doors and ask for the right to marriage and live as they do. But now all of that has been worth it.”

“For us this started as two people who wanted to be able to marriage regardless of their sex,” said Ms Fagan.

“[But] the other side that brought children into this debate and that changed everything.”

“My son came to me and asked why did people want to vote no, and I told him that people feared change but I didn’t want to go into it any further.”

“Their view is that their family is no different than any other. That’s why the Yes vote today is so important. Not for us or other gay or lesbian couples, but for their children.”

“A Yes vote means the country has voted for their family… voted to support and respected all of Ireland’s families.”

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