family matters

No campaign says 'Yes' victory could see babies left 'deliberately motherless'

The No campaign for the same-sex marriage referendum was officially launched today and their message was crystal clear – it IS about children.

Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

THE GROUP ‘MOTHERS and Fathers Matter’ today launched the No campaign for the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, asking the question: Why doesn’t this government believe children deserve the love of a mother and father?

A group of four men and three women gathered in front of a room full of journalists, as well as a sizeable group of supporters, to outline their plans for the week ahead and the message they will be trying to get out to the public.

That message is that this referendum is about more than marriage equality and that it will have massive consequences for the rights of Irish children in the future.

Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

One of the speakers, Dr Tom Finnegan, said “senior politicians and leaders in society have been keen to argue” that there is no connection between this referendum and the issue of children, dubbing this claim “utterly and entirely false”.

Finnegan said a victory for the yes campaign in this referendum will make it impossible for any future government to include a preference in legislation for a child to be with their mother and father.

He said if same-sex couples are to be given equal rights to procreate, then donor-assisted reproduction and surrogacy “become constitutional rights in their own sense”.

This, according to Finnegan, could create a situation whereby two men could create a child “using the genetic material from one woman’s egg, using another woman’s womb or gestation in order to create a child that would be left deliberately motherless from a legal point of view, from a social point of view”.

Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Other speakers from the No campaign included Keith Mills, who described himself as “a gay man who is asking people to vote no”.

He said the Irish people were being asked to vote for a fraud – that there is no distinction between the relationship between two men and the relationship between a man and a woman.

“I don’t believe that is true, I have personal experience of both.”

“With a woman, it primarily based in having a family and that is not the case primarily for the case of same-sex unions.”

Ecologist Sam Shephard told reporters that from the perspective of evolutionary biology, the union of a man and woman is actually “really the only approach to marriage that makes much sense” as it protects children by ensuring the people who helped create them are around.

And mother-of-five Kate Bopp referenced statistics that claim to show children who grow up without their fathers are more likely to be in abusive relationships or to end up in prison. She said it was “bizarre” that people are being asked what the problem is with a baby being taken out of the arms of its mother and “placing that baby into the hands of two unrelated men”.

Meanwhile, Director of Elections for the Fine Gael Marriage Equality Campaign, Minister Simon Coveney, said it is incumbent on all sides in the referendum debate to “stick to the facts”.

“This referendum is solely about extending the right to marry to same-sex couples. Nothing more. Issues around parenting and guardianship and the fundamental need to always protect children is dealt with in the Children and Family Relationships Bill along with other legislation,” he said. “These protections are not changed at all by this Referendum. To speak about children in this context by the No campaign is entirely inappropriate.”

Read: Islamic Centre issues advice to Irish Muslims on same-sex marriage referendum>

Read: This is what the Youth Defence website looks like today>

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