On May 22nd 2015, the Irish people will vote on whether to change the constitution to specifically allow for marriage between two people of the same sex. The proposed amendment is to add the following:
“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
Essentially, the effects of this change, as laid out by the independent Referendum Commision website, are that two people of the same sex will be able to get married, and that their marriage will be recognised as being equal to a marriage between two people of the opposite sex.
This change is a very emotive topic for everyone. There’s a lot of disagreement about the actual facts of what will and won’t change. Mostly due to mis-information. Here are ten reasons why I will vote Yes for marriage equality.
1. Marriage is a right that I automatically have because I am attracted to someone of the opposite sex. I see no good reason why committed partners of the same sex shouldn’t be entitled to the same human rights as I have.
2. Marriage and Civil Partnership do not provide the same rights to a couple/family. You can find 106 differences between them here.
3. Changing the definition of civil marriage does not affect religious marriage. Religious institutions can continue to apply whatever restrictions they want to place on their marriage ceremonies.
4. The idea of family has greatly changed over the years. Who am I to say what is, or isn’t a valid family? Families come in all shapes and sizes, let’s recognise them all as equal. Redefining marriage does not redefine family. It provides legal recognition to same-sex couples who are already families, with or without children.
5. A lot of the No campaign is based on the belief that children should have both a mother and a father. This referendum does not affect whether a child will have a mother and father present in their lives. Saying No does not provide them with both.
6. There are many single parents out there doing a great job. There are many children without both parents in their lives. The most important thing for a child is to have good role models, preferably of both genders, but that’s not essential. These role models need to be present in the child’s life. They do not need to be related to exert a good influence. The child of a same-sex couple should be entitled to have two legally recognised parents of any gender. A No vote deprives them of this.
7. The referendum will make no difference to the ability of a same-sex couple to have a child or adopt together. It will impact the legal status of their family. We should take away the uncertainty faced by those families and give their children the right to have a family that is recognised as their next of kin. This is one of the reasons why leading children’s charities are supporting a Yes vote.
8. Aside from giving the children of same-sex parents the right to have their family recognised, there are many children out there struggling with their sexual identity. In particular when they feel they cannot share this with their families for various reasons. This is a very lonely and vulnerable position to be in. A Yes vote tells them that society recognises them, values them, and affords them the same rights as everyone else.
9. Scare tactics. I have seen people who are unsure of how to vote being swayed by false information coming from the No campaign. If there were truly good reasons to vote No, then the facts would speak for themselves. Resorting to claims that a Yes vote will negatively affect children’s rights in this country implies that the No campaign has no good arguments to present.
10. Live and let live. A Yes vote does not affect the legal status of my marriage in any way. Allowing same sex couples to marry does not directly affect me (although it does affect some of my friends). This referendum only might affect my children’s families. Regardless, I vote to give all children and adults equal rights in this country.