Former President Mary McAleese waded into the marriage referendum debate yesterday, when she told George Hook’s Newstalk radio programme that both she and her husband Martin are “hoping very much it will be passed.”
McAleese was speaking from a university in Indiana where she is currently working on a doctorate on canon law. When asked if she believed the Catholic Church will ever change its teachings about homosexuality, she was very adamant that it would be “forced” to do so. In a further endorsement of the Government’s pro-same-sex marriage position, she said that the “dismantling of the architecture of homosexuality…will be assisted by the evolution of gay marriage.”
Her comments are likely to stir anger and a real sense of betrayal among large sections of the population in this country, who have deep concerns about the fact that a Yes vote may mean that some children will be denied their right to a mother and father, something the former President did not address in her interview.
Speaking in the wake of the Newstalk interview, spokesperson for the Iona Institute, Breda O’Brien, called on the former President to “clarify exactly what she meant in the implication that people who vote no are part of the architecture of homophobia,” pointing out that people living in Ireland have a right to vote and have their vote respected and not connected to negative attitudes to homosexuality. She also called on McAleese to address the very serious questions relating to children arising from the referendum.
“What I want is not to have any form of inequality for gay people. I’d like to ask Mary McAleese as a feminist and as a thinker, what is her view on surrogacy and what is her view on women being used as wombs?”
Various commentators have noted that McAleese’s only reference to children in her interview was to talk about the rights of gay children. Even in that context, she did not say whether she thought gay children should be raised by a mother and father.