Sr Stan to vote in favour of same sex marriage
Well-known social activist at odds with Catholic hierarchy on referendum stance
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy: “I have thought a lot about this,” she told The Irish Times. “I am going to vote Yes in recognition of the gay community as full members of society. They should have an entitlement to marry. It is a civil right and a human right.” Above: Sr Stan outside the Dáil in 2012 with campaigners against sex trafficking. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Sr Stanislaus Kennedy has announced she will vote in favour of same-sex marriage in the forthcoming referendum.
“I have thought a lot about this,” she told The Irish Times. “I am going to vote Yes in recognition of the gay community as full members of society. They should have an entitlement to marry. It is a civil right and a human right.”
Sr Stan (75), as she is widely known, is a member of the congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity and founder of the homeless support organisation Focus Ireland.
When asked how she reconciled her position with the Catholic Church’s teaching on the issue, she said she was speaking in a personal capacity.
“I have a big commitment to equality for all members of society. It’s what my life has been about. We have discriminated against members of the gay and lesbian community for too long. This is a way of embracing them as full members of society.”
She was speaking following a contribution to a conference on the impact of austerity policies organised by the trade union Unite.
Catholic Church leaders, however, have strongly supported a No vote in the referendum.
Earlier this month, the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin reiterated the church’s opposition to same-sex unions on the basis that they were not “similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
At this morning’s conference on the impact of austerity, St Stan said the downturn has changed the lives of people who never thought they would ever be tripped up by job losses and homelessness.
“Every day I encounter families with small children who are harassed, broken, their self-esteem trampled on, the parents distraught and the children traumatised,” she said.
“I have never seen anything like it in thirty years working with people who are homeless. These experiences are traumatic for the families involved, and the damage done to children will be permanent.”
She predicted that society will be dealing with the fallout of austerity - in terms of mental illness, family breakdown, suicide and addiction — for decades into the future.
“Our children will be asking how we could have tolerated this evil – and it is an evil, because it is causing immense pain and distress, it is ruining human relationships and is devastating children’s lives,” she said.