There have been many polls taken in advance of the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage, but we wanted to know how the result will affect the people behind those stats.
We asked all of our readers how the campaign is currently affecting them, and what their life will be like on May 23rd. We requested that readers from both sides of the debate submit their stories.
Here are all of the answers we received. All submissions were received on the agreement of anonymity.
I read narratives about how people have been feeling ‘left out’ 'ashamed to be who they are' and ‘unequally valued’ by society. I lowered my head and felt a deep sense of personal responsibility and shame.
And then I imagined a catastrophic moment in the future when one of my three children Elise (5 mths), Leo (3), or Ted (nearly 5) tells me that they feel ashamed of who they are.
“Dad, ‘I am gay'… I know you love me- but I am not equal to you".
My little girl was playing today with her friends, they decided to play with their dolls and play "Mammys & Daddys" suddenly it struck me, it may be no longer be politically correct to call the childpay Mammys & Daddys. The innocence.
At this moment I realised more than ever this referendum is so much about children.
'I pray it passes'
I will be absolutely heartbroken if the referendum is not passed on 22 May.
As a single parent I raised my daughter to always know that regardless of what type of family you come from, everyone is equal. She grew up assured in the knowledge that she was no different to anyone else.
When she told me she was gay, I told her she was cherished just the same. Over the past few weeks a lot of people have gone out of their way to assure her that I am wrong. That she is not equal to everyone else. And for the first time in her life she has been made to feel inferior to others.
I pray that on the 22nd my daughter and all gay Irish people will be assured that they are equal, are cherished and are entitled to the same rights as every other person on this island.
'Elephants and Horses'
Elephants want to be known as horses. It is a matter of equality under the law. After next week, elephants are to be known as horses. They don't look like horses and they don't sound like horses but you have to call them horses because that is what they want. So when you point to a field and tell your children "look at all those horses", they may be a little confused if they see what they think are elephants.
'Marriage is important'
I'm in my 68th year, very happily married to the same woman for 45 years. Because of that I feel marriage is very important, it should be cherished. I will be voting YES, as will all my family. We all feel who are we to deny that right to happiness to another, especially from a minority who, in my lifetime, have gone from being murdered with no consequence, to being vilified by religious.
Our country will take an important step, I have been out asking for votes, it will not affect me at my age, but my grandchildren, if one of them is gay, will never say 'Granda voted against my happiness.'
The issue is that the outcome of the vote won’t just affect people personally, whichever way it goes, but society as a whole.
We were told that the sexual revolution would be liberating. Now with higher divorce rates, more infidelity and a collapse in family structures, we can see that there were consequences.
We were told that education would be the key to reducing teenage pregnancies. Instead, we got more teenage pregnancies and many young people addicted to pornography, and rape and sexual assaults taking place with younger and younger perpetrators.
We were told that eradicating religion would lead to world peace. As Nietzche predicted, having done away with God, we had the bloodiest century shortly afterwards.
We were told that “There is no such thing as absolute truth.” The result is a generation who believe in nothing and feel there’s little purpose to anything.
We were told that “people were born that way”. The truth of the matter is that even Peter Tatchell, the UK’s leading gay activist has acknowledged that that isn’t the case. Wikipedia cites that it was felt that people thinking that homosexuality was genetic would reduce its stigma.
We were told by Leo Varadker “Every child has the right to a mother and father and, as much as is possible, the State should vindicate that right. That is a much more important right than that of two men or women having a family.” Now gay, he backtracks.
We were told that people should be whatever they want to be and that we’re all winners. We now have a self-centred and delusional generation who each think that they’re “unique” and everyone is a “hero”. Gender Identity Confusion is massively on the rise and will continue to rise.
We were told that we'd get to vote on "marriage equality" when we're being asked to amend an article in the constitution called "The Family".
We were told to look at the “unbiased” www.refcom.ie website which talks about the referendum being “passed” – as opposed to what? “failed”? Hardly unbiased.
We were told “Independent.ie wishes to paint a balanced picture of what May 23rd will look like for all Irish citizens.” Instead, I can see 8 letters pertaining to the “Yes” vote on your page.
And you expect us to believe you when you say that it’s not about the kids, just about the rights of two people who love each other? Please forgive my cynicism.
The truth of the matter is that the implications of a “yes” vote would be considerable for everyone, not just a small minority. Already in the UK, I see people advocating polyamory. I see surrogacy issues in the UK. I see churches which had been promised by David Cameron an exemption of conscience on marriages they disagreed with being challenged in the courts. In the lab, scientists study fruit flies over generations so as to better see the results of their experiments properly, and now, with a few years of gay marriage in some countries, I hear people naively trumpeting it as a success.
Whenever a fence is removed, one should be mindful of why it was put there in the first place.
So I’m voting “no”. Rest assured, if the “no” vote carries it, you’ll get another chance to vote again very soon.
'Voting For All My Children'
I am a 62 your old, married heterosexual woman. I have 3 adult sons, 2 of them are gay. I have always wanted the best for all of them. When I go to vote Yes I will be voting for all of my children, to make certain that they all have the same options, and constitutional protection for marriage, if they choose to marry. Anything less than that is discrimination and not worthy of a 21st century country and society.
Will the Referendum be a Doomsday scenario for Ireland? only you, your family, friends and neighbours can decide this with your vote next Friday. After that day it will be too late.
I would like you to take a little time with those you love and look at the attached video. It could be the most important 20 mins you will spend this year.
These are facts that have not been widely communicated and debated to the shame of our elected party politicians. Give these a fair examination and hearing before taking your final decision on what way you will vote. A high no voter turnout is vital as every single vote will count.
I feel really powerless as I hear the false arguments of the no campaign. I've gone right back to being a messed up 15 year old in my head, filled with dread and despair and wondering how other people can be so mean spirited and insensitive.
The need for media balance, it seems ro me, is allowing a lot of discrimination to be aired and to add insult to injury the no campaign are trying to paint themselves as the victims and the 'gay agenda' as the bullies. The irony only makes me feel a sense of despair unfortunately.
My fear is that this debate will have caused so much hidden pain and trauma for a community who are often quite vulnerable, not to mention the pain caused to other innocent parties such as unmarried mothers, parents with deceased spouses, mothers who gave children up for adoption - anyone who is not part of a picture perfect family. There is so much real hidden pain around this issue, maybe if that is seen and really acknowledged some further good will have been achieved.
'Out of step'
So it appears that just one of our 166 TDs is voting no in the upcoming referendum. Why do we even have to have a referendum if a staggering 99.4% of our elected representatives already believe that redefining marriage is the right thing to do? How come 30% + of the electorate are out of step with their political masters, most of the media and the lobbying classes?
For me, this referendum is not about marriage or even equality. It is about democracy. The only reason we are having this question put to us is because a powerful lobby has succeeded in having it put on the political agenda. You might have some difficulty in recalling the hundreds of thousands of protesters who took to the streets demanding a fundamental change to our marriage laws because they never took to the streets.
How convenient then that this marriage referendum has suddenly become an 'equality' referendum. The point is when a question is framed in these simplistic terms it is done so there can only be one answer.
One of the great current myths of Irish politics is that just one TD out of 166 TDs will vote against this referendum. The reality is that 30% or 40% may actually vote against it. The new PC political cute hoorism means that their views as well as those of a sizable proportion of the population will have no political representation on this question.
Regretfully, large sections of the media appear to have accepted this narrative. So just who is out of step with who?
'I am afraid'
This referendum will change my life. I am 35. I am a son, a brother & a friend. I am a doctor & a teacher. I have good health. success and most importantly, lots of people in my life who love me. I have a partner who I've lived with for 9 years & have been in a civil partnership with for 3. He makes my life complete & is easily the best thing that ever happened to me.
Despite all these good things in my life, I was shaken to the core by the announcement of the referendum. Initially, I was delighted to have the chance to marry the man I love. To be fully equal & recognised by the country that I love. A Yes vote will give me and my partner full acceptance under the law. Full equality for the first time in our lives. Then came the crippling anxiety. I've lived in Ireland where the No voices held sway. The voices that told me my relationship wasn't the same. That we were not normal. We were not equal. We did not deserve to be in the constitution because we were different. I grew up listening to people in my community tell me I was objectionable at best, or evil & disgusting at worst.
Irrational as it sounds, those voices were able to drown out all the love in my life. All that I've been blessed with & all that I've achieved seem small when I hear people say No. I am afraid. Hope is so powerful but the hope I have for May 22nd is also cruel, because it could be dashed. The No vote could extinguish the dreams I have of growing very old with the man I love. Of being an old married couple. Of being recognised by my country. A Yes vote will feel like Ireland cares. A Yes feels like acceptance. A No vote feels like rejection. I pray every minute that Ireland will say Yes & make us full citizens, equal citizens.
'Both campaigns have been extremist'
I am a 52 year old woman, married 30 years with grown children.
As a mother I cannot contemplate a world that does not offer the same protection under the Law to all people. I am a well educated catholic. My husband and I raised our children in the same faith tradition. Essential to this faith is that the formation of conscience is a primary factor in determining one's actions. An informed conscience must consider doctrine, values but also be able to read the signs of the times not to follow blindly yet to be faithful to one's beliefs and act accordingly.
I cannot comprehend a situation where Jesus would say to Mary Magdalene you are not equal by virtue of how you use your sexuality. Is the primary commandment in the Gospel of John that Love is the most important thing to live by not relevant here?
I do not have the experience of parenting a gay child or know any parents who have but I cannot see a situation whereby a denominational influence, whatever the religion, can be the basis of a decision concerning the rights as a citizen under the constitution.
Ultimately for me, the vote is not a question for sexual ethics or moral teachings. It should not be used to raise questions about adoption, fostering etc. as this has already been legislated for. Neither is it about surrogacy and artificial fertilisation which is to be dealt with in coming legislation. Lets stop muddying the waters here.
I will be deeply saddened if the vote is no. I will be sad for all those children who are afraid to be who they are. Sad for Gay Parents, sad for all those children who are being raised by Gay Parents and sad for my friends and most profoundly sad for my children that they may have to raise their children in a world where they cannot rely on the law to protect them, indeed all it's people equally with respect and dignity.
I do not like the way either campaign has been carried out in the course of the debate. Both sides has been extremist and this causes fear. This is a debate about protection under the law not about if being gay is wrong or right. Frankly judgement is none of my business.
For me the issue is this, if the law is there to protect all citizens, primarily to legislate for public order, accountability and if we all do not enjoy the same legal protections under our Constitution which is the framework of our identity as a nation, whose rights will be the next to be eroded?
About a month ago I was driving along, thinking as I do every so often that maybe today is the day I come out to my parents. As I drew nearer to my home, anxiety gripped me. I'm not familiar with the sensation of drowning but I imagine the feeling I had was not far off. I pulled the car over abruptly, opened my door, and vomited on the side of the road. This is not a seldom occurrence.
My friends who know my orientation often say to me, "just tell them, you know they won't mind!" And they're right, I know in my heart that they love me. Even still the mere thought of saying the words, "I like boys and girls", creates enough fear that has kept me in the closet for two years.
The closet is indeed a dark place, full of lies and cover stories and excuses. I am a good person, I am a kind and a considerate and a generous person. But living this life of lies has made me feel bitter and cheated.
Each time a colleague in work asks about my love life, I lie. Each time I am forced to listen to the ingrained ignorance of my grandparents, I lie. Each time my parents ask me where I have been of a night and I reply with some straight bar or club, I lie. Living a life of shame and deceit is exhausting. The only thing that keeps me going sometimes is the thought that one day I won't have to lie anymore, that I'll be able to live my life unapologetically. That regardless of who I love, my life will be valid and my love valued.
I am a young person. Marriage and children are a long way off for me and so the actual quantifiable consequences of this referendum will not directly affect me for some time. In saying that, a yes result will send a message to me and countless others out there like me, that we are valued as equal citizens, our love is no different to others and that we belong here. It will hopefully give me the strength I need to stop living this double life and to finally be myself, proud and unafraid. This is what a yes vote would mean to me.
I'm a gay man in a relationship with my partner for the last 11 years. I was initially in favour of a referendum because I thought it would sort the matter once and for all with a 'Yes' vote but I was unprepared for the onslaught of red herrings,false avenues and old fashioned bile from the 'No' side.
I grew up in a medium sized town in Ireland. Practically every school day of my Secondary school life I was routinely verbally and physically abused by the other pupils in the all male day school. Some days I admit I feigned illness just to give me some respite and chance to build up my defences to face another day. I didn't feel I could tell anyone. Sunday nights were horrible, the end of the summer holidays nightmarish.
Guys who had been friendly in primary did all they could to avoid being seen with me in case unwanted inferences were made about them. Who knows if the situation had been reversed maybe I would have done the same?
Hearing the response of younger people (and indeed older too) to the debate and their overwhelmingly positive acceptance of gay people has been great. Sports men and women saying they support equality makes a huge difference. From my past experiences there can be a tendency to assume if others are silent then they don't approve of gay people.
I'm a psychologist now and work most days with helping people untangle the past and how it influences the present, building hope, understanding and self esteem. To me a 'Yes' vote doesn't just mean I can marry my soul mate it means Ireland has entered a different stage. It possibly won't, overnight, improve the plight of a young person being bullied in a medium town in rural Ireland but it might, just might mean that they would feel less scared of talking to someone about it and be less alone. That possibility is worth anyone's 'Yes'.
'Need a Yes vote to feel equal'
I have listened to both sides of the Marriage Equality debate and I must say the "No" side are constantly using emotive arguments to manipulate people. Same sex marriage will not "redefine marriage", it will just define who can and cannot get married to one another.
Same sex marriage will not make all couples want to turn to surrogacy. Surrogacy has not even been legislated for in Ireland so the "No" side are just using every opportunity to target one's emotions to vote No.
I need a "Yes" vote to feel 100% equal. It is sad in a way that LGBT people practically are begging for the approval of straight people in Ireland. Many "Yes" campaigners take part in canvassing and this should not have to be the case: where one side of society is asking for approval from the other side of society.
There are two sides in Ireland at the moment - the LGBT side and the heterosexual side. Hopefully the Marriage Referendum will bring the majority together to grant equality so we can all be one: all equal: all on the same side.
If the "No" side win, I will have lost faith in our society. It will be like we are still living in the past, where inequality was rife. This is 2015 and this needs to be the year that we step away from the past and step into a future where everyone can feel that they belong in this world.
Indpendent.ie wanted to hear from real people on how the result will affect them personally.
Independent.ie invited all citizens of Ireland to submit, regardless of orientation or voting preference.
Indpendent.ie wished to paint a balanced picture of what May 23rd will look like for all Irish citizens.
Independent.ie have published all letters received via stated email for up to 72 hours after the call was made on social media.
There was no editorial selection of letters.
Letters were amended for spelling.