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"The No side seem fixated on the notion of the ‘ideal family’ – whatever that means"

The Tánaiste accused the ‘no’ side of using fear tactics. Meanwhile, David Quinn has said ‘Marriage Equality’ is a “misnomer”.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 2.20pm

TÁNAISTE AND LABOUR Party leader Joan Burton has spoken out today against the tactics being used by the ‘no’ campaign for the upcoming referendum on same sex marriage, describing them as “offensive and preposterous”.

Launching her party’s campaign to encourage people to vote ‘yes’ next month, Burton said the past week has seen the ‘no’ side “attempt to sow the seeds of confusion and fear”.

“They have cynically attempted to muddy the waters by dragging in extraneous and irrelevant issues into this debate. They plainly have concluded they cannot win the argument on the core issue so have chosen to bring entirely extraneous elements into the debate.

“The ‘no’ side seem to be fixated on the notion of the ‘ideal family’ – whatever that means.”

Burton pointed out that thousands of people in Ireland have been raised by single parent families for various different reasons. The Tánaiste herself was raised by adoptive parents.

It is insulting to all the Irish people who are part of such family arrangements that somehow they are second class because they do not fit easily into some supposedly perfect family fit. Ours is a complex diverse society that contains many family types and many forms of parenting. It is offensive and preposterous to suggest that children should be exclusively reared in one form of household only.

The Labour Party, she said, will be taking part in debates, knocking on doors, campaigning at shopping centres and bringing people to the polling station over the next few weeks.

It is a deeply personal and human campaign that is primarily about treating people with dignity, respect, and fairness.

“I have been listening these past few months to many deeply moving personal stories. I believe it these stories that will sway the argument towards a Yes vote on May 22,” Burton said.

‘No’ side not backing down

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme, David Quinn – founder of the Iona Institute and a leading campaigner on the ‘no’ side – said that people were being asked to change the Constitution to say that “having two mothers or two fathers is just the same as a mother and a father”.

He said that the phrase ‘Marriage Equality’ was a misnomer and that voters were being asked to back the idea that a family based on the union of a man and man was just the same as the marriage of a man and a woman.

Progressive Democrats Conferences David Quinn Source: Photocall Ireland

Asked about the Children and Family Relationships Act, which extends the definition of the family and provides adoption rights to same-sex couples, he said the legislation could yet be found to be unconstitutional.

“We will be making a declaration that mothers and fathers have no special value to children,” if the country votes ‘yes’ next month, Quinn said.

If the change to the Constitution is made, he said, it meant that no future government would be able to take the view that we should change the provisions of the Children and Family Relationships Act, as such a move would be constitutionally impossible.

Quinn is an advisor to the Mothers and Fathers Matter group, which was set up to oppose the new child and family legislation, and has been campaigning strongly for a ‘no’ vote in the marriage referendum.

The Children and Family Relationships Act was signed by the President on April 6th.

With reporting by Daragh Brophy.

Read: Poll on same sex marriage shows slight drop in support for ‘Yes’ vote>

Read: ‘It took me 65-and-a-bit years to summon up the courage to talk about being gay’>

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