Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ireland decides on same sex marriage and family.

On the 22nd of May there will be another referendum in Ireland. This time on the right of same sex couples to marry. 

Civil partnerships already exist in the country since 2011, but now the Irish public will vote on giving full and equal rights to gay individuals on marriage.

Many view it as a milestone, as homosexuality was only decriminalized in the Catholic nation in 1993. They hope to make Ireland the 13th European state to give gay marriages full legal recognition and status.

While the opinion polls have been steadily showing support for a YES vote, the NO campaign has been increasingly vocal. Their arguments mainly evolve around the definition of the future Irish families and the rights of children.

Yet, the referendum question relates to the issue of loving and committed same sex couples having the right to have a civil marriage. That is the only issue and question being put to the voters.

This referendum is not about adoption or about surrogacy – these are clearly important issues and ones that people care about deeply but they are complex issues which are dealt with in legislation and are not part of this referendum and should not form part of the debate. (Marriage Equality

The Children and Family Relationship Bill 2015 will address many of the legal gaps faced by Irish children with lesbian and gay parents. This should become law by mid-April 2015. (Marriage Equality)

A single straight, lesbian or gay person can already adopt but an unmarried straight couple or a gay/lesbian couple cannot. For an adopted child already living with gay or lesbian parents, the Bill will mean that he or she can have a legal relationship with his/her second parent, the adoptive father or mother’s partner. (Marriage Equality)

The issue of adoption will be dealt with in the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 not the referendum. Adoption forms only a tiny part of this Bill and the changes mean that an unmarried cohabiting straight couple or a gay or lesbian cohabiting couple will be able to apply jointly to adopt. (Marriage Equality)

In other words the NO campaign uses the potential adoption of children by gay couples, to win the referendum. They cite that a child needs a mother and a father, thus underlining its human rights. 

They oppose such development because according their beliefs, it is not "natural". But the definition of family and marriage has been altered so much in modern times.

Nowadays we got many different types of families, other than the traditional. How "natural" is it, like in many cases of straight couples adopting, to have a "white" couple adopting an African or Asian child? 

And what of one parent families, could they be characterized as "natural"? People now form families from two broken ones, while there are families that are formed outside of marriage. 

Over the past decades we got over many of taboos and prejudices. Marriage between divorcees, between people of different race and children outside marriage. In each case there was always a debate, protests and demonstrations, but our societies always opted for freedom, equality and tolerance; and so they must now.

If our society chooses to forbid homosexual individuals to marry, on the grounds of opposing the redefinition of the modern family, it will simply act truly hypocritically. 

Our societies allow straight couples to adopt, often overlooking some realities. Especially when some of them pay for an adoption in a desperate attempt for a child, thus literally buying another human being.

All that so that they can hide from their community that they can not have children, aspiring to create a "normal" family. In reality a child won't save their marriage or legitimize it.

If some people feel awkward about gay adoptions and they want to protect the rights of children, they are right to have concerns. But shouldn't they do so for straight couple adoptions? 

Since they want to open a debate about the consequences and effects of adoption they should do so for every couple, gay or straight.

It is true that some gay couples can never be eligible for an adoption, because of their circumstances or lifestyle. But so are many straight couples.

Besides, the main aim of the gay community is to be able to marry and their unions to have the same legal statues as those formed by heterosexual couples. Adoption is not usually their primary concern, at least for a large number of gay couples.

Thus the notion that if gay marriage becomes legitimate, our societies will be full of children adopted and raised by gay people has no grounds.

What homosexual couples are demanding is equal human rights and  in love.Why can a "straight" man marry a non-national woman and give her legal residence permission in the country, while a gay man can not do so for the person he loves?

And why can't a lesbian mother adopt her partner's child from a former heterosexual relationship, making her a legal guardian? What happens to a gay couple's joined property and wealth they have accumulated, after the death of one of the partners?

These are some of the issues that homosexual couples are facing and what this referendum campaigns should be focusing on.

It will be a benefit to our societies to grant homosexual individuals their human rights and integrate them fully. They have been forced to the periphery of our social fabric for too long, unjustifiably and unfairly.

They have greatly contributed to human culture, society and history, it is about time to end discrimination and stop treating them as second class citizens.

Ireland should become the 13th European state to recognize same sex marriage, but in no way should it be the last. All EU member states must adopt similar legislation to give the same rights to all the Union's citizens.

With the free movement of people being one of the fundamental rights of EU citizens, how can a marriage be recognized in one state while it won't be in another? And what about an adopted child's rights, if its parents decide to move to another EU member?

This referendum won't just be a milestone in Ireland's modern history, but a small positive step towards where the whole Europe should be heading; to equality, freedom and tolerance of every individual in this continent.

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