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Thursday 21 November 2019

Referendum Commission kicks off information campaign ahead of polling day

No change to parental rights if the same-sex marriage referendum passes
No change to parental rights if the same-sex marriage referendum passes

David Kearns

The Referendum Commission believes the upcoming same sex referendum will “stand up to any scrutiny” ahead of the May 22 vote.

Launching its campaign to promote public awareness of the two upcoming referendums on same sex marriage and the reduction of the age for presidential candidates, Justice Kevin Cross, Chair of the Commission, said he believes that each proposal explained the issues in a "neutral and unbiased way".

On the marriage referendum he told Newstalk’s Lunchtime that voters were being asked a “very straight forward” legal question – whether there should be no distinction between marriages contracts between two adults.

"People may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution. This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex,” he said.

Adding: “What that means is that two people of the same sex can conduct a marriage, just as two people of opposite sex can do so – subject to the law. Really, it does what it says on the tin.”

“The only effect is that the entitlement to marriage will be broaden from a man and a woman to include same sex relationships. It will have no impact on existing marriages.”

Defending people’s right to challenge the wording of the same sex marriage referendum, Justice Cross dismissed concerns raised that separation laws would be altered if it passed. 

He also addresses objections raised that Churches would be forced to sanction same sex marriages, saying that “all that will change is the right for who get married.”

“It is a matter entirely for churches to decide if they wish to officiant same sex marriages.”

Asked about the effects on parental rights of a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, the judge said recently passed legislation dealing with adoption and other family issues would mean current laws would remain "irrespective of the outcome in the referendum".

Speaking at the launch of the Referendum Information Campaign, Justice Cross said people had just over three weeks to register for the referendums on same-sex marriage and the age of presidential candidates.

“At every election and referendum there are many thousands of people who are entitled to vote, but can’t vote because they are not registered," he said, urging people to check if they were correctly registered on

“There are also many people who have moved house but remain registered at their old address, and this only comes to mind on polling day.”

The referendums take place on May 22nd, while people have until May 5th to register to vote.

An independent guide is being sent to every home, including replicas of the ballot papers to help voters avoid confusion.

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