Wording of Irish marriage equality referendum has strong support, but supporters vow to keep pressure on

With the referendum on marriage equality coming up this May in Ireland, GLAAD is bringing your attention to the campaign for marriage equality in that country. Last week we brought attention to the number of the public figures and high profile members of the Irish population gaining courage and coming out, including the Irish Health Minister Leo Varadkar, the member of the Irish High Court, Justice Aileen Donnelly, and football legend Valerie Mulcahy.

This week, GLAAD will take a look at the wording of the referendum, which was released last Wednesday, and the reactions that followed.  The referendum proposes to add to the Constitution a declaration that "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex." The wording has received a wide support from the LGBT groups as well as from Irish politicians across the voting spectrum. Have a look at some of them.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that she is happy to support the referendum and welcomed the wording, saying it was clear and concise, giving each citizen the right to marry and proving the increasing tolerance and acceptance in Irish society. The minister also said that the referendum should not be entangled with other issues such as the proposed Children and Family Relationships Bill. She added that an informed debate will lead to an opportunity to discuss issues further.

GLEN and ICCL have both agreed that the publication was "historic". GLEN Chair Kieran Rose said: "Today we move a step closer to full inclusion in our Constitution for lesbian and gay couples." ICCL Director Mr. Mark Kelly added: "The proposed amendment would update the Constitution to say that any two people can marry, regardless of their sex."

Marriage Equality Chair Grainne Healy said: "We look forward to a positive campaign for the referendum, which focuses on the value of marriage to everyone in Irish society and explains why marriage matters to lesbian and gay couples."

In addition to the polls indicating a strong support for marriage equality, the amendment showed very little disagreement across the political spectrum and the society. However, some of the battle lines are already being drawn today. Those against the measure are trying to bring out the same old argument that we saw in the United States, that marriage equality somehow harms children.

LGBT groups warn that the referendum will be rather tight and are working to encourage people to vote.  Brian Sheehan of GLEN commented on the matter: “I think Irish people rightly take constitutional change very seriously. We know that from every other referendum. Despite the strong support in the polls, we know we’ll need every single possible vote on the day in order to win the referendum.”

The concerns of GLEN and of other advocate groups are shared by the Irish Student Union, the USI, which holds a unanimous mandate to campaign for the marriage equality since 2012. Having concerns over complacency amongst voters, USI launched a new campaign "Vote for Love"video. The campaign notes that over 90% of students are in favor of marriage equality - compared with 79% of the Irish population as a whole. It also points out that there are 169 points of difference between civil marriage and Ireland’s civil partnership legislation, making marriage equality a huge difference for the people involved.