Our children's best interests are served by voting 'Yes'
Published 19/05/2015 | 02:30
I write as a former teacher and principal. It is obvious that many people, anxious to do the right thing, are confused when every expert legal argument and interpretation put forward by one side is countered by an expert on the other side.
When, over the millennia, confronted with change that might threaten the established order, shrill voices warned that we could not change the way we have always done things because, well, we just couldn't. We're told there's a natural order that is inviolable; however, the problem with this is that certain young people then have to be told that they are intrinsically disordered. As sinners they're told they're loved, but their visceral attraction and intimacy with others is a hateable sin.
Marriage, we are told, is a traditional institution that has been constant for thousands of years. This is not true: marriage has had many incarnations over the centuries. It's self-evident that if you include some and exclude other relationships from marriage then this establishes a particular tradition. The truth, however, is that traditions change as cultures change.
The critical issue in this referendum is the rights of children. I suspect that many principled people thinking of voting 'No' have never been privileged to be trusted by a young person who revealed their sexuality to them. If they were, they'd probably have been told about the great distress suffered by the young person, on their own, in coming to understand that they are different and about the hostility and hatefulness of certain sections of society to them.
It is also well within the bounds of possibility that their sons or daughters or the children of their sons and daughters or of their brothers and sisters will, some day, choose to reveal their sexuality to them. They may well be the first trusted adult. And I have no doubt that the vast majority of such adults faced with this reality will come to understand things differently (they might even be asked how they voted in 2015 and why).
I would therefore ask anybody considering voting 'No' in the best interests of real children to reconsider. A 'Yes' is a vote for children.
Same-sex marriage referendum
It is universally accepted that the 'best practice' for the well-being of a child, its parents and society is for that child to be raised in a family with its biological parents. We know that this 'best practice' is not always attainable and we acknowledge the great care provided to children by adoptive and foster parents and by often heroic single parents. Nonetheless, the gift of a mother and a father to a child is something that should never be prejudiced or undermined by anyone and to do so cannot be in best interest of the child.
In every other sphere of life - from medical care to the worlds of business, agriculture, finance and politics - 'best practice' is held up as the gold standard that we must not only aspire to, but do everything possible to achieve and maintain. Why then would we seek to discard the gold standard for marriage, the family and our society?
Our Irish Constitution enshrines that "The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack" (Art 43.1.1.). This legal binding pledge is not made on religious grounds but because, "The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law" (Art 41.1.1)
The family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman, predates our state and religions. Throughout world history it has been recognised as the fundamental building block of society and that what happens to it, reverberates throughout society. As a dear friend, who happens to be homosexual, has said "the marriage of a man and woman is a stand-alone institution which should not be interfered with or changed by anyone, for any reason".
In Ireland's great future we cannot forget its past. Marriage between a man and a woman has certainly served us well as a nation throughout our history and it deserves to be protected and maintained.
Dana Rosemary Scallon
Claregalway, Co Galway
I will be voting 'No'. My reason for doing so is because this referendum is not about 'marriage equality', it's about changing the meaning of marriage. It is asking people to accept a profound change, namely that marriage can be a union of two persons of the same sex instead of a union between a man and a woman.
It is asking us to vote to say mothers and fathers don't matter and to deliberately deny children the right to have either a father or a mother and to cut the natural ties between children and their biological parents. All educational material for children will reject the fact that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. This will cause discrimination against the most vulnerable of all - children.
I believe that any persecution or oppression of any person because of their sexual orientation is absolutely wrong. But it is worrying to see the 'Yes' campaign, which includes the government and multiple organisations backed by the mass media, using taxpayers' money to sway opinion to a 'Yes' vote. It has become a hammer to force the acceptance and normalisation of homosexuality on everyone.
A new radical intolerance will occur towards people who believe strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman if the result is a 'Yes' to this radical change to marriage and the family.
Mary Rose Doherty
Buncrana, Co Donegal
I am a 62-year-old Catholic. I am a reader in my local church. My faith is important to me. Last Sunday, for the first time in my life, I deliberately stayed away from Mass. I had no wish to upset the celebrant, or scandalise my fellow worshippers, by staging a noisy departure when Archbishop Martin's letter was read out to the congregation.
For the last few Sundays we have been urged to inform our conscience on the matter and to read the Bishops' Pastoral. Obviously the push is on and the hierarchy has decided that we can no longer be left to reach our own decisions. I see this latest missive as a further attack on my gay daughter and the LGBT community.
If any of their lordships really knew gay people they might be kinder and less prescriptive in what is after all a civil matter. I call on all churchgoers like myself to vote 'Yes' on Friday, rejoice on Saturday, and return to church on Sunday.
Swords, Co Dublin
Marriage is the complementary sexual union of a man and a woman and is the unique source for the continuation of the human race.
Anything else is something else.
Neil and Anne Dean