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what it really means

WATCH: The real lives affected by #MarRef - on both sides

These video interviews hear from LGBT people in both ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ camps, whose future we vote on tomorrow.

IRISH PEOPLE WILL tomorrow be given the chance to decide whether or not couples in same-sex relationships are given the right to marry in this country.

In the run up to the vote, TheJournal.ie spoke to some people whose lives will be affected by the outcome.

Eddie Parsons was 54 years old when he came out. He was married and had two children. Being gay was something he struggled with for decades, he told us, as when he was young “the word gay didn’t exist”. He suffered from severe depression, had to leave his teaching job and eventually decided it was time to be himself.

Though he has neither the desire nor the intention to get married again, he said a Yes vote means a lot to him because of the struggles he had with his own sexuality and because it will offer him, and other gay people in Ireland, the same rights and respect as other citizens.

We also spoke to Dil Wickremasinghe and Ann Marie Toole ahead of the birth of their baby boy Phoenix, who came into the world on Sunday. The couple met at a mental health retreat and said they knew instantly that they would be lifelong friends. Right now, they feel like their new family is not treated as equal to other families in the country.

They said they want their child to grow up in a society that accepts everyone for who they are and that is why a vote in favour of same-sex marriage is so important to them.

Watch the video below and let Eddie, Dil and Anne Marie tell you in their own words:

Video TheJournal.ie / YouTube

Keith Mills, who has been one of the main spokespersons for Mothers and Fathers Matter, said this referendum has been like “coming out all over again” for him. He said it is important for him, as a gay man who is voting No, to stand up for what he believes is right. For Mills, marriage is about family and “not a way to measure relationships”.

He believes there is a difference between the relationships of heterosexual couples and gay couples and that is why he is voting No. “It’s not a matter of better or worse, it’s a matter of recognising difference and celebrating diversity.”

Paddy Manning said he grew up in an Ireland that was “ferociously hostile”. He was one of the last people arrested under the 1869 Offences Against the Persons Act. “Young, alone terrified; that experience nearly killed me,” he said. Now he claims he is being accused of being homophobic because he is against the “redefinition of marriage”.

He believes marriage is, at its heart, about children and providing those children with their biological parents. Manning fears that a Yes vote tomorrow could mean he, and others who express similar views, will be punished for expressing their opinions and “we should not vote for that”.

Watch this video from Mothers and Fathers Matter to hear from Keith and Paddy:

Mothers and Fathers Matter / YouTube

More from Referendum 2015:

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