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Mary McAleese says 'the only children affected by this referendum will be Ireland's gay children'

The former President is calling for a Yes vote in the same sex marriage referendum this Friday.

BeLonG To Youth Services / YouTube

FORMER PRESIDENT MARY McAleese has come out in support of a Yes vote in the same sex marriage referendum.

Speaking at an event hosted by BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people, McAleese spoke of her hopes and fears for her own son Justin who is gay.

“We who are parents, brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends of Ireland’s gay citizens know how they have suffered because of second-class citizenship. This referendum is about them and them alone.

The only children affected by this referendum will be Ireland’s gay children. It is their future which is at stake. It is in our hands. They are too few in number to win this referendum on their own.

“We, the majority, have to make it happen for them and for all the unborn gay children who are relying on us to end the branding, end the isolation, end the inequality, literally once and for all.

A yes vote costs the rest of us nothing. A no vote costs our gay children everything.

‘Right a wrong’

The former president spoke about her own marriage when pointing out that she believes same sex marriage poses no threat to heterosexual marriage.

She said she has been married to her husband for almost forty years and that they are Catholics who believe happy marriages are good for individuals and for society.

Will a yes vote affect my heterosexual marriage or any heterosexual marriage? Not in the least.

“But it will greatly affect my life and the lives of all parents of gay children. It will give us peace of mind about our children’s future and pride in our country’s commitment to true equality. It will right a glaring wrong.”

90380620 Mary McAleese with her husband Martin at Wood Quay Venue after been invited by BeLonG To to outline why her family will be voting YES in the forthcoming marriage equality referendum Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

McAleese also addressed surrogacy in her speech saying, “We have all ignored a very important reality that on both sides of the referendum argument there is considerable agreement about the need to regulate surrogacy, a need that will exist whether the referendum is passed or defeated.

“No-one in Ireland, whether heterosexual or homosexual, has a legal or constitutional right to procreation using surrogacy. This referendum if passed will certainly not create any such right. It is a nonsense to think it could.”

Calling for families to vote Yes in the referendum on Friday, McAleese said:

On May 22 we, the adult citizens of Ireland will be asked a simple question. Do we agree to gay civil marriage? If we say yes we will be conferring on our gay citizens the right to marry those they love in a registry office. No more and no less.

“I am hoping that our voters young and old, Irish born and the new Irish will open their hearts on May 22 and liberate our country and our gay citizens, born and unborn, from the injustice of generations of branding, isolation and inequality.”

Responding to the comments from the former President, Mothers and Fathers matter spokesperson Eileen King said, “If this was a referendum about how we felt about gay people, then I for one would vote yes with a full heart.

“Unfortunately, it’s about more than that. It’s about the fact that on Saturday morning, if we vote yes, the highest laws of our land will say that there is no difference whatsoever between the marriage of two men, and the marriage of a man and a woman.”

Read: GAA star Ger Brennan says Government has hijacked emotions and he’s voting No in marriage ref>

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