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'We're treated differently - but we're just the same'

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Paula Fagan, at her home in Dalkey where she lives with her partner Denise and their two sons. Photo: El Keegan

Paula Fagan, at her home in Dalkey where she lives with her partner Denise and their two sons. Photo: El Keegan

Patrick  Dempsey on Dublin's Thomas Street. Photo: Frank McGrath

Patrick Dempsey on Dublin's Thomas Street. Photo: Frank McGrath

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Paula Fagan, at her home in Dalkey where she lives with her partner Denise and their two sons. Photo: El Keegan

"WE have the same joys and the same challenges as other families, but we don't have the same rights."

That's according to accountant Paula Fagan (44), who entered into civil partnership with Denise Charlton (49) two years ago.

Ms Fagan said people often have difficulty accepting gay and lesbian families because they believe they are fundamentally different to heterosexual ones.

The couple each gave birth to one of their two sons, Benan (8) and Cian (5).

The Drogheda woman said: "People in Ireland understand family life. When they see it in action, they understand that we're not any different.

"Our family, friends and neighbours are lucky in that they have a family that's visible to them, so they understand the issues. Whereas for other people, they don't know gay or lesbian families, and they're wondering.

"The same-sex marriage referendum will give us the recognition and constitutional protection that we don't have, and that civil partnership can't give us. It will show that we are no different, and shouldn't be treated any differently than other families."

Meanwhile, student Patrick Dempsey (22), from Dublin, said same-sex marriage is something young gay people should be able to enjoy.

"It's what young gay people should be able to aspire to when they grow up. When gay people are leaving school and looking to their futures as adults, they see very quickly they have a fight on their hands.

"When people look at their children, or their work colleagues, they need to see that they could be a gay or lesbian person, and when they vote 'No', they are voting against the right to have their relationships recognised."

Irish Independent