White says Yes vote won’t lead to ‘apocalypse’ for marriage

Minister says No vote in poll won’t ‘guarantee every child right to a mother and father’


Passing the same-sex marriage referendum will not result in the “apocalypse” of marriage in the State, Minister for Communications Alex White has said.

Mr White, who is director of elections for Labour, said there is some fear that this campaign could get nasty.

He said the core message was about giving the same protection and rights to families that already exist in this country.

In an interview with the Irish Times ahead of the launch of Labour’s referendum campaign on Sunday, Mr White said: “It is not the apocalypse on the institution of marriage. On the contrary, it is extending the rights and the enjoyment of marriage to another cohort of our fellow citizens.”

Mr White said there was a number of people who are against the referendum but are not necessarily sure why.

He said a No vote in the same-sex marriage referendum would not guarantee every child a right to a mother and father.

Mr White agreed with his Cabinet colleague Simon Coveney, the Minister for Agriculture, that not every child has a right to a mother and father.

He said: “People are trying to give the impression that a No vote will somehow guarantee that every child in the country will be born with a mother and a father.

“A No vote won’t deliver that. Children will be born in all kinds of different circumstances now and into the future which won’t be affected one way or the other by the outcome of this referendum.

“What this referendum is doing is to extend a right that is already there for families. If anything, it gives constitutional protection to families that already exist in our society.

“It is not that something new is going to be created by this passing. It confirms that is already there in our society.”

Mr White said there is potential for this campaign to become dirty and to spread confusion.

He said: “Yes there will be attempts to throw sand in people’s eyes and to interrupt the debate with stuff that is not on point and is not really relevant. We will never be able to vindicate the right to a mother and a father.

“You might think or feel it is desirable for a child to grow up in a family with a mother and a father but no society, no constitution or no Government can make that the case or deliver that. It is desirable that we will all live into old age but we cannot vindicate that.

“We can’t have a law that makes that happen. It might be desirable that a child grows up with a mother and father but you can’t have a law that actually guarantees that will happen.

“There will be an attempt to sow confusion. We have to be ready for that. But the way this campaign should be run and the way we intend running it is to keep it to the straightforward messages of equality, fairness and respect.”

Mr White said no person in Ireland will be adversely affected if this referendum was to pass.

He challenged anybody to counter that statement claiming no amount of legal trickery could change that fact.

The Labour Party Director of Elections said there was some concern that people would use this referendum to give his party a kick.

But he claimed there has been no evidence of that in the canvass, which will intensify over the coming weeks, up until this point.

He said: “If you have something to say to Government or to Labour, you will have that opportunity when the election comes. Don’t take it out on this referendum. “But we haven’t found this to be an issue.”