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Politicians tell us why they're voting Yes or No

Do you support same-sex marriage?

WE ASKED EVERY TD and Senator how they intend to vote in Friday’s same-sex marriage referendum.

Of the 173 (of 225*) who responded, 163 intend to vote Yessix plan on voting No, and one is unsure. Three declined to share their intentions. The rest did not respond.

Here some of them explain to TheJournal.ie why they’re voting Yes or No.

(*226 minus Phil Hogan’s old seat in Carlow/Kilkenny)

Yes

Gay Marriage Equality Referendums Simon Coveney Source: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney is Fine Gael’s director of elections for the same-sex marriage referendum.

As such, he’s been one of the most prominent Yes campaigners.

Here’s why he supports same-sex marriage:

The Referendum on 22 May is about giving everybody the opportunity to marry the person they love. These people are our friends, neighbours, relatives and colleagues.

Marriage enshrines loving commitment between two people and that is something that should encourage rather than prevent.

Marriage gives us stability, a standing in society, and helps us deal with whatever life throws at us. And society is stronger when we commit to each other. I’m voting Yes so that no one will be denied the right to marry the person they love on the basis of their sexuality.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has spoken publicly about why he has changed his views on same-sex marriage:

Source: TV3 Ireland/YouTube

Kenny said he thinks the vote will be a lot closer than many people expect.

Tánaiste Joan Burton told a recent Yes campaign meeting that society will be “stronger” if the referendum is passed:

For my part, I do think society will be stronger when same-sex couples are given equal rights to participate in an institution that rewards mutual commitment.

Some may still harbour doubts. I would simply ask them to listen to the voices of parents, grandparents, brother and sisters of gay or lesbian citizens. It is those voices that have been the most electrifying and energising feature of the debate over the past few weeks.

Here’s what some opposition politicians think…

Sinn Fein Gay Marriage Equality Referendums Mary Lou McDonald Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald:

Marriage equality is a case of affording absolutely our acceptance and our respect and our full valuing of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It’s so important to create and have a climate in which people who are gay or lesbian feel entirely valued and respected.

Issues around children, adoption and surrogacy are complex but separate issues.

Independent Senator Katherine Zappone said she has been campaigning with her spouse Ann Louise for the past 14 years for same-sex couples to have “constitutional equality and all the happiness and well-being that flows from this”.

Socialist party TD Joe Higgins:

I’ve campaigned for LGBTQ rights for decades and have supported all demands such as an end to criminalisation and for marriage equality. After the referendum there won’t be an end to the need for activism from LGBTQ people and their allies. Homophobic and transphobic bullying remains a major issue, especially in our schools.

In my constituency I and other members of the the Anti-Austerity Alliance are campaigning strongly for a Yes vote and we are receiving a very positive response to our points.

Bills To Regulate Electronic Cigarettes Averil Power Source: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Senator Averil Power (Fianna Fáil’s deputy director of elections for the party’s campaign):

I have delivered 50,000 leaflets calling for a Yes vote in Dublin Bay North and am knocking on doors five times a week canvassing for a Yes vote. I passionately believe lesbian and gay people should be entitled to equal rights, including the right to marry.

I also believe a Yes vote will be good for Ireland as a whole, signifying our determination to leave behind the discrimination of the past and be a progressive and inclusive society.

No

In a recent opinion piece for TheJournal.ie, independent TD Mattie McGrath said the rights of gay people can be protected without extending marriage to them.

Dail debates Moriarty Reports Mattie McGrath Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

He said the views have nothing to do with “a thinly-veiled homophobia”, as some people may claim.

Those who advocate a Yes Vote unfairly threaten the electorate with the appearance of becoming democratic pariahs if they reject the amendment, despite the fact that same-sex marriage in any form has only been adopted by 17 of the 193 member states of the United Nations and none of those adoptions have been on the basis of a constitutional referendum.

Why has this fact been so conspicuous by its absence from the Yes Campaign?

There is a deliberate and misleading impression being created that those who advocate a No vote are somehow on the wrong side of history and that only access to civil marriage will do as a defining marker of equality for citizens before the law.

Senator Rónán Mullen told us he think a majority of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TD, half of Sinn Féin TDs and “at least 40% of Labour TDs” will vote No, noting: “Nobody will ever know”.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

He said many people aren’t sharing their views publicly, claiming some of those canvassing for a Yes vote secrelty don’t back the proposal.

There are people who know from their own lives that their father and their mother in their life made a difference to them, and not just because it was two as opposed to one.

Independent Senator Jim Walsh echoed this statement, telling us he’s actively campaigning for a No vote “because of my serious concerns for the future wellbeing of children and society generally”.

- with reporting from Hugh O’Connell

Originally published: 21.30, 16 May 

David Norris: “As a gay man, I would really welcome being voted to be an equal person”

‘We can protect the rights of gay people without redefining the meaning of marriage’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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