I am delighted that numerous independent experts have clarified that the Marriage Equality Referendum is, in fact, about Marriage Equality.
I am delighted that Adoption Authority Chief Geoffrey Shannon has stated categorically that the adoption process will not change as a consequence of the referendum on May 22nd, that the best interests of the child will remain the key issue in determining whether someone gets the license to adopt.
I am delighted that Ireland’s leading children’s rights advocates Fergus Finlay (Barnardos), Tanya Ward (Children’s Rights Alliance) and Grainne Long (ISPCC), have made clear that marriage equality and the extension of constitutional protection is in the best interests of all children.
I am delighted that Chair of the Independent Referendum Commission, Justice Kevin Cross, has clarified that there is no right of access to surrogacy to any married couple whether same-sex or different-sex.
I am also delighted that Justice Kevin Cross has clarified that the requirement that marriage be contracted “in accordance with law” is key and will remain unchanged such that the same prohibitions (e.g. between close relatives) will continue in relation to all marriages whether same-sex or different-sex.
I am delighted that Justice Kevin Cross has also clarified that Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage are, in fact, different by explaining that married couples have constitutional and legal protection whereas civil partners only have legal protection. The significance of this being that legal protection can be changed, amended, whittled down by act of the Oireachtas unlike constitutional protection which can only be removed by the vote of the people in a referendum.
In the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum we are voting to extend a protection that currently exists for some Irish citizens to all Irish citizens.
We are voting for or against equality.
I am voting Yes because I believe in equality.
We need no other reason to vote Yes.
We have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure equal treatment and equal rights for all of our citizens, for all human beings, for all members of our human family without exception. To introduce exceptions is to discriminate
May 22nd is about equality. It is about civil rights, human rights and most importantly its about human beings.
I’m already married. Why should I care? Well that is exactly why I should care and the very reason that I should vote Yes on May 22nd because as an Irish citizen I should not have rights that are not also afforded to every other Irish citizen. Those of us who are in the majority must come out and vote Yes on May 22nd to ensure equal rights for fellow Irish citizens who, in this instance, are in the minority.
By voting No to equality you will be endorsing inequality, you will be endorsing discrimination.
A No vote will send a message to our government, to the world, to our children and to our children’s children that Irish people think that it is ok to discriminate, that we think that it is ok to treat one Irish citizen differently to another Irish citizen, to treat one human being differently to another human being, to treat one family member differently to another family member.
I have two sons,
I love them both equally,
Both are Irish citizens
One can marry and the other cannot.
On May 22nd we have a unique opportunity to address that inequality, to make history, to show the world that Ireland doesn’t discriminate. On May 22nd Ireland has an opportunity to lead the world on this human rights issue.
If the Irish people vote Yes I will be so proud to be Irish.
I actually cannot contemplate the alternative. I am not sure that I want to live in an Ireland that has voted to treat my son Gavin differently to my son Darren.
An edited version of this was published in the Irish Times 18 May 2015