Same sex marriage referendum a civil not religious issue - Adams
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that while the Catholic bishops are entitled to their views on the Same Sex Marriage referendum, that it was a civil not a religious matter.
Mr Adams also pointed out that there were many members if the Catholic Church who are gay and that many Catholics believed strongly in equality and will vote to grant marriage equality to their fellow citizens.
Gerry Adams said:
"The Same Sex Marriage referendum this Friday is a unique opportunity to advance the cause of equality in Ireland.
"Gay citizens are our family, friends, workmates and neighbours. They are of all ages and from all walks of life.
"They want what we want – the right to live their lives as full and contributing citizens and to share in the love of a family of their own.
"They deserve the opportunity to marry the person they love, like everybody else.
"The importance of a 'Yes' vote in sending a very positive message to many young people coming to terms with their sexuality would be immense.
"I am conscious that the Catholic bishops have argued against the referendum proposal and that letters to this effect were read out at Masses yesterday.
"The bishops are of course entitled to their view. However, this is a civil not a religious matter and a 'Yes' vote does not affect church marriages.
"It is also the case that there are many gay Catholics, including members of the clergy.
"There are also many practising Catholics who believe strongly in equality and who will vote to grant marriage equality to their fellow citizens.
"The referendum is not about the issues of adoption, surrogacy or assisted reproduction. Nothing in the referendum affects existing adoption legislation or the rights and entitlements of children.
"I would appeal, as we enter the final few days if this referendum campaign, for a calm, reasoned, respectful and above all compassionate debate.
"If you are not gay, the right to marriage equality will not affect you. It will merely give the same rights to all citizens.
"I would also appeal to citizens who may be tempted to use this referendum to express anger at the Government to refrain from doing so.
"This referendum is not about Fine Gael or Labour, or Fianna Fáil for that matter, or their austerity policies. It is about the rights and entitlements of citizens.
"A positive result requires that every single voter to turn out on Friday. Let's make history on the 22nd of May. Let's make Ireland a better, more equal place. Let's ensure a victory for tolerance and generosity of spirit. Let's vote 'Yes'."