You will have heard a lot of debate in the past few months, from family households to national television on the upcoming Marriage Referendum on May 22nd. At this stage, it is important to rid ourselves of preconditioned notions and look at the facts.
People are saying this is not an equality issue because no-one wants to be labelled anti-equality. Breda O’Brien recently argued that ‘there is no human right to same-sex marriage’. Correct: there is no single explicit article pertaining exclusively to gay rights. There is however a myriad of other articles referencing equal rights of all human beings, regardless of sex or other status. Read Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Breda. Or any other lawful constitution, for that matter.
Outspoken campaigners at the Iona Institute are touting the virtues of a document written nearly a century ago. What is somewhat peculiar, is that none of them seem to be quoting the most recent addition of the Children and Family Relationship Bill which allows same-sex civil partners and co-habiting couples to jointly adopt children. As of 9th April 2015, that is law. But why are we not hearing more about this? Because it is detrimental to a side reliant on an incorrect notion that the Marriage Referendum will dramatically alter the family model. It will not. The majority of people will be completely unaffected by this Referendum.
People are asking us to think of the children. Think of the children you are oppressing by supporting a No vote. Think of the teenagers being assured by their friends that they are normal but being told by their country they are not. Think of the babies of Civil Partnerships who only have legally recognised relationships with their biological parent and will encounter custody battles should that parent die.
This amendment will not threaten the rights of children or families, it will merely add a clause to Article 41 which states “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
While it is understandable that most of us are accustomed to a mother father parental model, it is not for us to determine what every family should conform to. It’s 2015. Each person, not gender, is endowed with different values: I know families where dads give the period talks and mums have the final word on discipline. We have house-husbands and female boxing champions; why are we so unwilling to relinquish this attachment to gender stereotyping?
We are worried about the future because we don’t know it yet. It is only human to fear change and the same goes for any generation that has witnessed a monumental shift in history. Change is scary but it is necessary. Our forefathers didn’t drop dead when women got the vote. Our grandparents didn’t suffer when black people were given extra seating options on the bus. And our parents haven’t damaged society with the ability to legally divorce one another.
As a straight person, this is not your struggle. No-one told you that you weren’t allowed to marry the person you love; what entitles you to do that to anyone else? This struggle belongs to your best friend, your auntie, your daughter, your brother. It is for the boy in school who is terrified of coming out to his parents. It is for every child that wishes they weren’t born gay. This is about making their lives a little easier. Support the struggle. Vote Yes.