Equality group urging Yes in marriage referendum launched

Vote gives Irish people ‘chance to secure true equality for lesbian and gay people’

Yes Equality, a civil society group campaigning for the marriage equality referendum, was launched at a rally in Dublin on Monday. Video: Enda O' Dowd

 

Yes Equality, a civil society group campaigning for the marriage equality referendum, was launched at a rally in Dublin on Monday.

Spokeswoman Grainne Healy said the launch marked a historic moment for Irish society and its gay and lesbian citizens.

“We are asking Irish people to get involved, vote Yes and share their freedom to marry,’’ she added.

“The referendum gives Irish people the chance to secure true equality for lesbian and gay people, who are our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.’’

Ms Healy said the campaign acknowledged Irish people were generous and decent people who wanted to live in an inclusive and equal society.

Large attendance

Tánaiste Joan Burton, Ministers Alex White and Dr James Reilly, Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power and other politicians were among the large attendance at the event, chaired by former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda Hospital.

Representatives of trade unions, social justice organisations, civil society and faith-based groups also attended.

The campaign has opened offices in Clarendon Street, Dublin, with five full-time staff and five volunteers supporting a countrywide network.

Ms Healy said the campaign was registered with the Standards in Public Offices Commission and was carrying out fundraising.

She added it currently had €60,000 in funds but needed €250,000 in resources to effectively inform the public of the key issues at stake.

“We want to print leaflets, have posters, give out badges and have a national bus campaign - but that will all depend on funds,’’ she added.

Grassroots campaign

Ms Healy said as a mother and grandmother, it made her optimistic that the grassroots campaign for marriage equality was being joined by so many who were calling for a Yes vote.

It would allow her partner and herself of 30 years, and many others like them, to share the freedom to marry, she said. “Some of us have lived most of our lives without this freedom,’’ she added.

Ms Healy said the campaign was about civil marriage equality, adding there was no issue or challenge to church marriages, nor any obligation on churches to marry lesbian and gay couples.

Yes Equality spokesperson Kieran Rose said the group could not win the campaign on its own and it was asking Irish people to get involved, to show their commitment to equality and freedom and join the campaign to win the referendum.

“Irish people have, with characteristic generosity and fairness, supported emancipation of lesbian and gay people over the past 20 years,’’ he added. “We are appealing to the same values again.’’