Tuesday, 10 March 2015
An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Comhionannas Pósta) 2015: An Dara Céim - Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015: Second Stage
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I will start by saying that I will be voting "Yes" on 22 May next. It is vitally important that we encourage as many people as possible to come out and join us in voting "Yes". If the majority votes "Yes" on 22 May, Ireland will be joining many other countries in recognising same-sex marriage, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Finland, England, Wales and Scotland. It is important to recognise that what we are doing in this country by voting "Yes" is not something out of the ordinary. It is something that respects people and citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, which is vitally important. As other speakers have said, it is remarkable that we will be the first country to do this by popular vote.
Voting "Yes" to marriage equality makes everyone equal in the eyes of the law and strengthens everybody's marriage in this country. It could not undermine marriage to give everybody who is in a loving relationship the right to have that relationship recognised in law and constitutionally. That is what we are doing with this referendum. There is nothing more natural than allowing two people who love each other to declare that love equally under the Constitution and before the law. We all have a great opportunity on 22 May to come out and affirm that right for every citizen living in this State. There may be people who have concerns about it but it is our job during the forthcoming campaign to assuage those concerns and to assure those people that what we are doing is providing for equality and fairness and enabling couples who love each other to declare that love before the law. That is all we are doing and rather than undermining people's rights or undermining marriage, this will actually strengthen rights and strengthen everybody's marriage in this country. This issue is extremely important. I fully support the referendum on 22 May and look forward to it being carried on that day.