‘No’ posters in the same-sex marriage referendum campaign which say every child should have a mother and a father are homophobic, a senior Church of Ireland figure said at its General Synod in Armagh.
Retired Archdeacon of Dublin Gordon Linney pointed out that the posters’ “real target is gay people and a crude attempt to discredit them as suitable parents. This is where we can talk candidly about homophobia because the implication is that gay people are at best incapable of caring for children or at worst a danger to children.”
They were also “rich,” he said, “given that it is not so long since the State and the churches supported Magdalene homes and similar institutions and considered it acceptable to put young mothers to work and take their little ones from them in many cases to be exported and, it is alleged, in some cases sold. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
No one would deny “the ideal of the mother and father model but it is not what it used to be in this age of working parents where small children spend more of their waking hours with minders or in creches,” he said.
The poster was also offensive to single parent families, whose situation was sometimes caused by tragedy such as the death of a partner or the breakup of a relationship, by suggesting their parenting role was in some way inevitably defective.
“The same is true for adoptive parents who are providing secure and loving homes for children with whom they have no biological connection.”
Speaking as “a strong supporter of the Yes campaign” he admitted “it is not easy for me to be here today because my wife died on Sunday.”
He continued: “We would have been 50 years married on 4th September. My personal grief today is the measure of what those 50 years have meant in terms of a loving relationship that has found expression in our shared lives and the privilege we enjoyed as a married couple recognised and supported by society.
“What this referendum is about is allowing those with a different sexual orientation to us to enjoy what we heterosexuals take for granted. I am here today because Helen would want me to be here and to speak for both of us.”
He had no doubt that voting Yes was “the Christian way – the Jesus way – who went out of his way to bring together people who differed in all sorts of ways.”