Today I'm going to be talking about an issue that is a hot topic of discussion over the past few weeks in Ireland. This of course is the marriage referendum. For those of you who don't know, this Friday the 22nd of May, our country will take a vote on whether or not we want to legalise gay marriage. We are the first country in the world to take a vote on an issue like this.
The two sides to this debate are the yes and no sides, and Irish citizens over the age of 18 will be asked to choose either yes or no when casting their vote. There are many issues and points to be covered when talking about this debate so I apologise if I don't cover everything, but I thought it would be interesting for you to see the opinions of an Irish teen.
First of all, I want to say that I am completely with the yes side in this referendum and for many reasons. One of the main slogans the yes side are using is 'Yes for Equality'. We were discussing the referendum in English class in school and my teacher told us that this slogan angered him because it implied that if he did not agree with the yes side, then he was against equality. I understand where he is coming from, but I would have to argue against his point. At the moment in the Irish state, a man can not marry a man and a woman can not marry a woman, yet a man can marry a woman. This is not equality.
We are currently gliding past this problem, by offering same sex couples civil partnership. One website I looked up states there are over 160 differences between civil partnership and civil marriage. These differences are crucial in this referendum. For instance if there is a lesbian couple with children and one of their parents is their biological mother and the other one dies, that child has no connection to that woman in the eyes of the state. There are also issues surrounding the death of a person in a civil partnership. In marriage there is nothing preventing couples being buried beside each other. In civil partnership however, there are problems surrounding whether or not that person can share a grave with their partner, which in my opinion is disgraceful.
I know of some people who are all for the legalisation of gay marriage who think that there shouldn't have to be a vote at all, that the government should make it legal without asking the public's opinion. I do not agree with this. I think it is great that the people of Ireland are being given the chance to decide on a serious issue such as this. We are the people whom it will effect, so why not give us the choice to decide rather than a government with mostly the same opinion on the matter making the decision.
One of the main points that the no side are bringing up a lot is the issue of children that could be raised with a married gay couple. They are saying that 'every child deserves a mother and father'. There are so many things wrong with this point. First off, have they even considered the families in Ireland who do not have a mother or father due to death and other such circumstances? Does this mean that these families are in some way lesser than families with both parents? Then to come on to children raised with gay parents, even the referendum commission, the people who organise the referendum and are unbiased, have said that children are a totally different issue and the referendum has no effect on them under Irish law. To put the icing on the cake, gay couples are already allowed to adopt in this country so even if the referendum is not passed, gay couples will still be raising families!
Finally, I would like to encourage all Irish citizens over 18 to vote in the referendum on Friday, no matter what way they're voting. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference to our country for the better. Sadly I'm missing out on the voting age by 13 months so I won't be able to have my say, but that's the law for ya!
Hope you enjoyed this post. It felt good to get all my feelings on the matter out into the world so at least I can make my contribution in some small way. Here's to a yes vote!