Below is a letter written by Patrick Dempsey a member of BeLonG To to the Constitutional Convention on the subject of equal marriage rights for LGBT people.
To members of the constitution convention,
I am writing my submission to you not as a young gay person, but first and foremost, as a young Irish person.
Growing up, I was treated very differently because of my sexual orientation. I was bullied and tormented. I was excluded by peers, adults and even my school.
I felt different, because I was treated as being different. I was treated as if being gay was a bad thing, and it made me feel like it was. I felt like being a young gay person was a burden.
Now I am 20 and out of school. I still feel different because society and the law treat me differently, but I want that to change. I want gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to feel equal, and be treated equally.
This issue is not just about marriage. It has wider implications. It will say in law that I will be treated equally no matter who I love, regardless of my orientation. That, I believe is such an important message for our young people.
As someone who will be expected to pay taxes (including taxes that fund the civil registration office), work, contribute to society, and now be one of many young people who have to take on a massive debt burden- I should receive as many, if not more rights than the responsibilities I have.
As someone who wants LGBT people to be fully equal, I prefer using an argument for ‘equal marriage’ rather than ‘gay/same sex marriage’. I want my marriage to be equal to that of a heterosexual person’s marriage, not just in law, but in society.
My point for marriage is simple. I don’t believe in marriage just because I am a gay young person. I believe in equal marriage because I am an Irish Citizen. I want to contribute to my country and be a fully involved citizen, but I also want the rights that all Irish heterosexual Citizens have.
I am convinced that in years to come, we will be asking ourselves ‘why was this a big deal?’ The truth is that it is not.
Many of those who are against marriage equality are in fact married themselves, and I always ask myself how they would feel if they were told that they were not permitted to get married? They would not be very happy, or feel very equal, I imagine.
Many of those who disagree with marriage equality use a flawed argument about recreation, that a marriage should be about having children, and that a child needs a mother and father. I personally think this argument is sexist against woman. Women should not be expected to carry a child because they want to get married or are married. It is offensive to those couples who cannot have children because of infertility. It is offensive to brave single mothers and fathers around this country who bring up children alone.
I ask to convention and those contributing to do two things when discussing this issue:
- Please be respectful when arguing for and against this. There are young vulnerable people around this country listen to what you say as individuals and as a group of people.
- Please remember that yes we are gay and lesbian people, but we are Irish Citizens, and that is the most important when discussing this, in my opinion.