By Garth Kant
WASHINGTON – Two of the most prominent opponents of same-sex marriage in Ireland are homosexual men, and they seem to have caused quite a stir with a video ad.
The Emerald Isle could become the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot box when voters go to the polls to decide a referendum on the issue this Friday.
But homosexuals Keith Mills and Paddy Manning both say that would be a terrible mistake.
“There are many people who feel the same way as I do but they’re afraid to speak out because of the extraordinary bullying that’s coming from the yes campaign. We shouldn’t bow to that intimidation,” said Manning in the video.
Mills said, “If gay couples want constitutional protection, put civil partnerships in the constitution. But don’t redefine marriage.”
The two men have appeared in televised debates to argue for a “no” vote on the referendum.
And now they are featured in a video spelling out their opposition, an ad which an Irish observer said on Monday is “coming up on most YouTube videos I play today.”
“We already have civil partnerships in Ireland,” he noted. “And civil partnerships give gay couples protection and recognition. In fact, the ceremony is the same as civil marriage, right down to saying, ‘I do.’”
“True equality recognizes difference. And it doesn’t deliberately take away a child’s right to a mother or a father,” he added.
Mills said he believes children deserve a mother and a father where possible.
“For me, marriage is about children and a family, and not a way to measure adult relationships.”
He pointed out how same-sex relationships have already caused havoc for children.
“To have children, gay men like me have to either adopt or use surrogacy. Surrogacy turns children into commodities. Putting adult desires above the rights of children, having babies made to order and wombs for rent … we’re seeing in other countries how messy this can get with surrogacy cases ending up in the court. And where are the child’s best interests in that?”
Mills warned that approving the government’s amendment would be saying there is no distinction between the union of a man and woman and of two men or two women.
He insisted there is a difference between the relationships, and to pretend otherwise is wrong.
“It’s not a matter of better or worse; it’s a matter of recognizing difference and celebrating diversity. Saying there is no distinction is ridiculous.”
Manning agrees with Mills that same-sex marriage supporters have conducted a campaign of bullying and intimidation.
“This is not the way a campaign should be run. Family business are being closed, professional careers threatened. We’re told Catholic schools must teach the government’s version of marriage. We should not vote for that.”
Manning also insisted, “Recognizing difference is not discrimination.”
He said a same-sex relationship is, in fact, different than a marriage, “because marriage is, at its heart, about children and providing those children with their biological parents.”
Manning also addressed the irony of being called homophobic because he is against the redefinition of marriage.
“Yeah, I’m homophobic – I scream when I pass the mirror,” he observed sarcastically.
If Ireland approves same-sex marriage, it will become the first country to do so by popular vote.
Without a referendum, Dutch lawmakers legalized same-sex marriage on April 1, 2001, making the Netherlands the only country with such a law.