Enda Kenny has said a yes vote on same-sex marriage in tomorrow’s referendum will “obliterate” publicly the remaining barriers of prejudice or the irrational fear of the “them” and “us”.
The Taoiseach also told a packed press conference in Dublin that the referendum was not about surrogacy or religion.
“This is about extending the right to civil marriage, not religious marriage. It will not affect in any way the freedom of denominational schools in anyway to teach their own doctrine and own understanding of religious marriage.”
Mr Kenny called on mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, to come out and vote yes so any family members that are gay would be given equal access to civil marriage.
He said rarely had he seen such passion and engagement in the campaign with voters at every house and shopping centre.
He said voters could go out and “create history”, as Ireland would then become the first country in the world where same-sex marriage was passed by the people. Mr Kenny also said that the issue of legalising surrogacy would not be decided in the lifetime of this government.
The Taoiseach denied that no voters had been intimidated. He said civil partnership did not give full equality to people, unlike marriage. The interests of the child would be central to any legislation or regulation that followed if same-sex marriage was passed.
Mr Kenny said he was “very happy in my mind and conscience” being a Catholic and voting yes.
Tánaiste Joan Burton called for young voters to go to the polls tomorrow and, when exiting polling stations, to take ‘selfies’ and send them to friends encouraging them to vote.
Government sources yesterday suggested the result for the marriage referendum may emerge as early as 11am on Saturday, after ballot boxes are opened. Coalition sources privately hope the vote could be 60% or higher for the yes side.
Mr Kenny said the second referendum on whether to reduce the age at which people can run for the presidency would be another restriction lifted it it was also passed.
Meanwhile, an East Cork priest has said he will vote yes tomorrow as he wants all people to be treated equally and the Church and the country “have not treated gay people well”.
Fr Tim Hazelwood, parish priest in Killeagh said he had received a mixed reaction since telling parishioners at the weekend.: “Some people were pleased, others were not so pleased.
“That would reflect what is going on in society.”
Fr Hazelwood said he was yet to receive any reaction from the church hierarchy.
However, he said other Association of Catholic Priests members had also indicated they would be voting yes.
“This is about equality. It is an issue for the State. It’s not a Church vote. The Church’s teaching won’t change. I feel as a country and a Church we haven’t treated gay people well. “ The debate has been good for us because it is an issue that needed to be spoken about. Hopefully, there will be a yes vote.”
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