Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Former Irish President Mary McAleese on Why She Intends to Vote Yes: "A No Vote Costs Our Gay Children Everything"

In the video above, Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland, makes a passionate, well-reasoned, deeply moving statement about why she intends to vote yes in the Irish referendum on marriage equality. McAleese is speaking to the group BeLonG To, with whom she met last Friday. BeLonG To is a national Irish organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people. 

The heart of her rationale for voting yes in the coming referendum — she has a gay son, and she intends to vote in support of her son and of the gay children of other Irish families: 

We who are parents, brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends of Ireland's gay citizens, we know how they have suffered because of second-class citizenship. This referendum is about them and them alone. The only children who are certain to be affected by this referendum are Ireland's gay children. It is their future which is at stake. They are, unfortunately, too few in number to win this referendum on their own. We, the majority, we have to make it happen for them and for all the unborn gay children who are relying on us to end the branding, end the isolation, end the inequality, quite literally once and for all in our Constitution.
A yes vote costs the rest of us nothing. A no vote costs our gay children everything. Why? Because differential treatment of gay citizens by excluding them from secular civil marriage undermines civic equality and, more importantly, it permanently locks in inequality. 

Mary McAleese is, of course, responding directly to the toxic nonsense, the deliberate disinformation, and the red herrings being put before the Irish public right now by anti-equality groups in Ireland, with the collaboration of the bishops of Ireland. She's responding directly to the claim that permitting gay couples to marry will harm children, and will undermine the institution of heterosexual marriage. These scare-mongering tactics and the disinformation campaign in which they were embedded tilted the scales in California in the final weeks of the proposition 8 battle there, and resulted in a vote that stripped California's gay citizens of the right to civil marriage. The no side is hoping for a similar result as it pulls out all the stops in this final week of the referendum discussion.

The text of McAleese's speech is at the BeLonG To website (pdf file). See also Mary Minihan's report in the Irish Times.

I'm very grateful to Chris Morley for sending me the links I'm sharing in this posting.

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