As appeared in Letters – The Kerryman – 29 April 2015 edition
It’s difficult to steer any conversation about Marriage Equality away from a discussion about children. This can be frustrating for those of us who support Marriage Equality, as it’s obvious only adults can get married. Truth be told however, those of us who support equality, have more than a passing concern for children and how they will be affected by this referendum.
We are concerned about those thousands of gay and lesbian children watching this campaign unfold. Watching as their desires and aspirations to one day marry and perhaps have children, are compared with incest, child abuse and bestiality. Hearing calls that they submit to a life of pitiful chastity. Being further reminded, that to many they are, and should remain, second class citizens.
We are concerned about the thousands of children who are being raised by a gay parent or parents. As they hear their parents described as unworthy and unsuitable for marriage. As they hear their families described as inferior. As they hear themselves described as disadvantaged. This, despite all the scientific evidence available, which shows their families to be the equal of all others.
We are concerned about all those gay children who are being raised in a nation that stigmatises homosexuality to the extent that gay and lesbian children experience self-harm, suicide, mental-illness, homelessness, poor education, substance abuse and unemployment to a much higher degree than their straight brothers and sisters.
We are concerned about all the straight children being brought up to see their gay and lesbian peers as deviant and lesser. All those straight teens experiencing the confusion of puberty, who are given licence to shield their fears by attacking anyone different.
We are very concerned about children. We would see them shielded from the ugliness of this campaign. But we know, and it breaks our hearts that we know, the vile things being said in opposition to Marriage Equality, are the daily experiences of many gay and lesbian children. So yes, Marriage Equality is about children. It is but a small step towards the creation of a country that values gay and lesbian children as much as it does straight children.