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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
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If we redefine marriage, we change our Constitution to require that some children will be left motherless or fatherless by design

THE PUBLIC DISCUSSION about the marriage referendum is often centered around values that are held by many members of the Irish public. And while there is no doubt that some of those values in themselves relate directly to faith, not all arguments are faith based. As a mother raising children outside of any belief system, I would like to outline my reasons for advocating a No vote in the marriage referendum.

I am not fond of labels, but for the purposes of clarity I suppose ‘agnostic’ would be the most accurate one for my family. I base my decision regarding how I will vote and, indeed, my active engagement in this referendum campaign on a combination of factors.

Bond between mother and child

The most compelling one for me is the bond between a mother and her child. I understand the bond is equally strong between a father and his child too, but I can only relate firsthand to my own personal bond with my children.

I cannot imagine a more cruel wrong perpetrated under the guise of ‘adult equality’ than that of rendering insignificant the worth to a child of her or his own mother. Yet the amendment of Article 41, which is the family section of our constitution, will render the unique role of a mother insignificant. The part that says “without distinction to sex” does not just apply to marriage, it applies to family.

Government and Yes campaigners want the public to believe that the marriage referendum is necessary to provide couples in same-sex relationships with legal security and State recognition. But this is untrue. Couples in same-sex relationships can already avail of civil partnerships. Civil Partnerships provide same-sex couples with virtually all the rights and entitlements that married couples enjoy.

There is no significant difference in law between the two. Civil partnership ceremonies are practically identical to civil marriage ceremonies – down to the saying of “I do”. Same-sex couples have vastly more legal protections that other categories of co-dependent adult, such as elderly siblings living together or carers and carees living together.

Redefining marriage 

At the heart of the referendum is the issue of children. If we redefine marriage we change our Constitution to require that some children will be left motherless or fatherless by design. How? The Article in our Constitution we are being asked to change is Article 41, entitled “The Family”. If the referendum passes same-sex married couples will have exactly the same constitutional status as a husband and wife married to each other. It will be impossible for the State to give a preference for a child having both a mother and a father when it comes to adoption, surrogacy and donor assisted human reproduction.

In each of these areas the Constitution will require that some children be deliberately deprived of either a mother or a father, not through force of circumstance but by State decree. If we were voting on an equality issue we would be asked to make a change to something within Article 40, but we are not amending the equality article at all. The Marriage Referendum is clearly asking the public a question about the family article.

A passed referendum may also confer upon same-sex married couples a constitutional right to surrogacy and donor assisted human reproduction. They will certainly have a constitutional right to procreate. The only way same-sex couples can procreate is by using these arrangements.

In such a case there would be a constitutional right for two men to create a child who would have one woman as a biological mother (through egg donation), another woman as a birth mother (through womb rental), but would be left motherless for the rest of her life. That child may never even meet either her biological mother or her birth mother. This is a direct consequence of the Yes campaigners version of absolute adult equality.

Kate Bopp (Lawlor) is a Wexford-born 49-year-old mom of 5 living in the wilds of rural Galway. Co-founder of an international disaster response NGO. Kate ran as an independent candidate in the 2011 Irish General Election. Currently spokesperson for Mothers And Fathers Matter and lobbyist.

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Marriage is the only institution which unites children with their mother and father

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