Former president Mary McAleese has described same sex marriage as a “human rights issue” as she and her husband Martin called for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum.
In her first public comments on the issue, Mrs McAleese said the vote next month is “about Ireland’s children, gay children” and said passing the referendum would held dismantle the “architecture of homophobia”.
She also highlighted the problems in Ireland of suicide among young males. "We now know from the evidence that one of the risk groups within that age cohort of 15-25 is the young male homosexual.
“We owe those children a huge debt as adults who have opportunities to make choices that impact their lives, to make the right choices, choices that will allow their lives grow organically and to give them the joy of being full citizens in their own country.”
She gave an interview to Newstalk Radio from Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, where she is teaching a course on children's rights.
“My husband and I are hoping very much it will be passed,” Ms McAleese, who is a canon lawyer and committed Catholic, said. “We have been contemplating about it for a very long time.
“We believed it to be about Ireland’s gay children,” she added. Mrs McAleese also evoked the 1916 proclamation and said Ireland must cherish all children of the nation equally.
“What we both feel very strongly is, particularly as we approach 2016, is that it is a debate about children.
“People have been saying it is about children and we believe it to be about Ireland’s gay children and their future. And about the kind of future we want for Ireland. We want, in the words of the proclamation, the children of the nation to be cherished equally.
“The adult children, the children yet unborn, the gay children yet unborn. We want them to be born into a world where if they fall in love with someone they can express that love fully and that they can live the kind of life Martin and I have had.”
She also said the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is “likely to change” because worldwide thinking is changing and criticised Pope Emeritus Benedict, who called homosexuality “intrinsically disordered”.
“The danger of calling it intrinsically disordered and at the same time calling for the love, Christian love for those who live the homosexual life meant people have been forced into the shadow, have been forced into self doubt, deeply conflicted.
“[It] is a terrible thing for a young person who has grown up, for example in the church, and have been told they are loved absolutely to discover at 15,16 or 17 that all the language they have heard – particularly the homophobic language that they may have heard, the locker room language – applies to a person like them and applies to them.”