Friday, 27 March 2015
An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Comhionannas Pósta) 2015: Céim an Choiste - Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015: Committee Stage
I welcome the Minister to the House again. I intend to speak to those two amendments that relate to the wording people will see when they go to the polling station to vote. It is not that long ago since we had the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad over which there was a great deal of confusion. I say that as someone who was delighted to see that referendum lost. I accept that a very large number of people were concerned over the wording on that referendum paper because it was confusing. It is a reminder of how much attention we should give to the wording on this referendum paper. I believe Senator Mullen has been correct when he proposed that the Title should be substituted with the wording "Thirty-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Redefinition of Marriage) Act". That makes a great deal of sense because the inclusion of the wording "(Marriage Equality)" in the Title takes a biased view. The second proposal is that the words "(Marriage Equality)" in the Title should be substituted with words "(Marriage Without Distinction as to Sex)". That explains what the referendum is about.
A number of people are concerned about this referendum but most of them are not necessarily, although some may be, anti-gay or anti-gay and lesbian movement; rather, they are concerned about it for other reasons. It is important we take into account that there are people who have legitimate reasons for being concerned. One of the reasons, and it is one I mentioned previously, is the question of giving the right to gay people to adopt children. The Minister may have read in recent weeks that Elton John and his partner, a gay couple, called for a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana because the designers said that they believed adoption should be only between a male and a female. The Minister can understand that people have a genuine concern about this issue. Therefore, some people have genuine concerns and they are expressing them and now we have the opportunity to have a referendum to express them. I would like to ensure there is no criticism in the aftermath of that referendum with people saying they did not understand it or that they were misled. Therefore, the amendment Senator Mullen has tabled is worthy of consideration and should be considered.