Friday 30 September 2016

Referendum is not a vote about lifestyle, it's about love

Published 30/04/2015 | 02:30

We are at a crossroads, but not the one Eamon de Valera imagined
We are at a crossroads, but not the one Eamon de Valera imagined

I come from the stand-point of many on the 'Yes' side: somewhat middle-aged (if one calls 40 that), male, rural and, sadly, single.

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A child of the 1970s, who grew up in the '80s' and '90s, I have seen much change for the better in relation to homosexuality. Yes, we live in a more open, pluralist Ireland now. And, yes, we now live in Ireland where being gay no longer makes you a paedophile or someone in need of 'fixing', an Ireland where young boys and girls, young men and women growing up gay can look to positive role models in all walks of life in their country.

However, we stand at a crossroads as a nation with this referendum (and no, they are not de Valera's crossroads). The expanse of the significance goes well beyond the ticking of Tá or Níl on May 22. People are being asked to not only redefine marriage, they are being asked to define love.

What kind of love do I mean? A love that is blind.

While many on the 'No' side may come from 'well intentioned' positions and have genuine fears about the future of society if there is a 'Yes' vote, fear must not be allowed to be the guide of the march of our nation.

What has fear ever achieved, other than to stifle, stymie, retard and impoverish? Nothing good, no achievement, has ever been born out of fear.

People feared what would become of America when slaves were freed. And when women got the vote. And when inter-racial marriage became legal, and when homosexuality was decriminalised, and for that matter when civil partnerships were introduced. Have any of these things, or countless others, taken us over the edge and crashing into the abyss? No.

What do we have to fear from allowing a committed gay couple to marry? Will the sky fall? It won't. The mortgage will still have to be paid, the All-Ireland will still get played, the lawn will still need cutting, there will still never be a biscuit in the house when someone calls, and the dog will still eat the furniture. In other words, life will go on.

What will change however is that there will be a 'rising' - not in the 1916 sense, but rather a rising of spirit. A lifting of the ingrained "separate and unequal" mind-set that, whether we like it or not, resides in the majority of gay people in this country - the product of having society tell you that you're just that little bit short of 'normal'.

I don't seek to redefine marriage. I seek to redefine who we are as a nation. This is not a vote on lifestyle; it is a vote about commitment and love.

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Be on the right side of history

Being an openly gay 22-year-old man in Galway, I have had difficulties in encountering several 'No' vote posters on my way to college every day. I am not certain whether those campaigning for the 'No' vote understand just how much it hurts so many people to see and hear such things. If we break down their ideas to their basic form, what they're truly arguing is 'I don't want you to have the same rights as I do'.

No one should have a say in whether I can get married - however, for now everyone does. It can never be wrong to love another human being, and yet the 'No' vote argues against that.

Despite our differences in what we believe to be right, we all still deserve to be of equal status in a modern Irish society. If you disapprove of gay marriage, you are fully entitled to your opinion - but just consider the lives of others before making your decision on May 22. Remember in 30 years' time what this change will mean for Ireland's future and how your own children might ask about your decision on the matter. Be on the right side of history.

Declan Jones



It has brought great unhappiness to me seeing how some people could say no to equality. What is most frustrating is how these people can try to bring children into the matter. I'm 12 years old and if I could vote, I would say 'Yes' to equality.

Currently, gay couples who want to be married have to move to a new country just to be married, and are still not accepted and recognised in their own country. This is wrong.

If you can vote, please go out and vote 'Yes'.

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Making marriage genderless

The Marriage Referendum if passed will lead to a type of inequality not previously known in Ireland.

On May 22, the citizens of Ireland are being asked to vote to render the institute of marriage genderless. We are being asked to change Article 41 of our Constitution. The Article that we are being asked to change is the one entitled The Family. Despite the fact that this is not the portion of our Constitution that covers equality matters (Article 40), it is being misrepresented to the Irish public as an equality issue. This is disingenuous, dishonest, patronising and misleading. Our Government parties have colluded to under-inform the people of Ireland (again).

The 'Yes' side would have us believe that their main concern is that all families will be cherished equally and given constitutional recognition. This is clearly untrue as creating genderless marriage will not achieve such recognition for a great number (approximately one-third of all families). In fact, there will be a more stark inequality if the referendum passes. A married man and man or a married woman and woman will be considered a family under the Constitution, regardless of whether they have a child or no children at all.

Whereas an unmarried couple raising any number of children will still not be recognised as a family under the Constitution. The same will apply to the many lone parents who are unmarried and raising children single-handedly. So much for equality.

Our legislators need to return to the drawing board and find a way to recognise all types of family models without alienating a huge chunk of the Irish electorate.

Kate Bopp

Spokesperson for Mothers And Fathers Matter

Loughrea, Galway


Why are more gay people coming out against this referendum? They can see that, while supporting all children and families, it is right that the State should legally be able to favour marriage between a man and a woman, which gives children a mother and father - the basic essentials for procreation from time immemorial.

They also believe that civil partnership honours the diversity of their relationships, protects their rights and allows greater ease in dissolving relationships.

Eileen Gaughan

Strandhill, Sligo


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Castlebar, Co Mayo

Irish Independent

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