On Friday the 22nd of May voters in Ireland will be asked whether the Irish Constitution should be changed so as to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. If the proposal is passed, a marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same status under the Constitution as a marriage between a woman and a man. It is my opinion that people should have the liberty to love and be loved by the same sex and if they love each other so much that they want to marry and have children, they should not be punished and treated differently for doing so. That is exactly what is happening to same sex couples right now here in Ireland and around the world. They are judged and discriminated against because as it stands the constitution prevents them from being recognised as a family and doesn’t grant them the Constitutional protection for families.
Gay people are no different to straight people but yet they are branded and are made seen to be different, simply because of their sexual orientation. I personally feel very strongly about this subject matter because some of my nearest and dearest friends who I am privileged to call my friends are gay. It hurts me to think that they are being treated differently in our society. I for one am ashamed that they are not treated equally. It’s truly astounding to think that in this day and age that we have to hold a referendum in order to decide whether gay people should be treated with equality when it comes to civil marriage rights, it should just be a given but unfortunately our constitution tells us otherwise!
Live and let live – a saying we use often here in Ireland, a saying that speaks a thousand words, but also a saying that we don’t seem to fully comprehend or put to use. Nothing frustrates me more than narrow mindedness when it comes to the upcoming marriage referendum. Individuals who say they are voting ‘No’ but can’t offer any real reason as to why they have formed that opinion are the top of my list. I don’t accept that people are “set in their ways”. I think it’s ignorant to deny everyone equal rights and for what? To the average family man who says he is voting ‘No’, what real effect will a ‘Yes’ outcome have on your day to day life? In fact they may find opposing the referendum hurts them more. They can’t imagine a scenario where their young children may grow up and come out as gay. What then? Do they deny their own children the right to be happy and as equal as their siblings? Voting ‘No’ for the sake of voting ‘No’ simply isn’t good enough in my opinion.
Many of those people campaigning for a ‘No’ vote feel that it’s wrong to have two people of the same sex as parents. How many children out there are raised by a mother and a father and have terrible upbringings? Neglected, abused and not loved and cared for like they should be. So what should the sexual orientation of a child’s parents have to do with anything? It is my firm belief that it makes no difference whether a child is raised by two moms or two dads or a mom and a dad, as long as the child is brought up in a loving, supportive, understanding, happy and caring way. I have two close friends (both women) who are married to each other and have two beautiful children. They are happy, outgoing, bright, confident, intelligent children who have a great relationship with their parents. They excel in everything they do be it school or sports. They have many friends and are popular among their peers. They have been given the best opportunities in life and its all down to the love and support of their parents.
I firmly believe that a Yes vote can have nothing but a positive effect on the future of this country. We need to take a stand and show the world that we as a country believe in a fair and equal society for all our citizens. However I do fear that many think a ‘Yes’ vote is a done deal, and so may take a relaxed approach to heading to the polls. I urge everyone who think’s marriage should be an equal right to not leave it up to someone else. Have your say and make it count!