While everyone was casting their May 22nd vote regarding the same-sex marriage referendum campaign, heated words during the campaign were hard to ignore.
The official count was announced over the weekend, media articles lit the headlines offering different perspectives which led up to voting day. One of the most prominent ones was published in the Irish Times in where clinical psychologist, Dr. Maureen Gaffney, decided to take a public stance.
She was bothered by the “No” campaign. In good conscience she could not morally continue to remain silent and shared her views at a “Yes” conference in Dublin.
“I’ve been deeply troubled by the way the campaign has been run by some elements on the ‘No’ side, and that’s why I’ve decided to support – I was going to vote ‘Yes’ anyway – but to actively support the campaign because I can only describe what has happened as a kind of guilt by association campaign.”
Reporter, Patsy McGarry from the Irish Times expressed how the psychologist felt that the “No” side presented appalling suggestions.
He writes how Gaffney viewed it as, “really egregious that the problems of surrogacy are being loaded onto gay, lesbian and bisexual people as if they haven’t enough to deal with.” She found “the idea of surrogacy a most troubling issue – it’s like the Wild West and requires very strong regulation nationally but also internationally.”
She then tackled the “No” side’s insinuation regarding how children would in some way have an agonizing childhood if raised by gay parents. Gaffney told the crowd that she personally executed her own research, back to the early 1970s, and there was no substantiated proof indicating the differences of upbringing either it be by heterosexual or homosexual couples.
McGarry quotes her saying, “I can say without hesitation that there is not one study in literature that shows any difference in the emotional, education and social development of children who are reared by gay and lesbian couples,” she said. “The things that matter to children are emotional security, someone at your back. Gender has no bearing on how well or how badly you do that.”
Conversely, the “No” side had their share of time in the spotlight. Doing their best to put forth healthcare professionals, they roped in Dutch psychologist, Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg.
Also in the Irish Times, van den Aardweg was quoted as saying, “Homosexuality is presented by the majority of the media as a question of unjust discrimination of people who in themselves are just a little bit different by nature … denied rights the majority enjoy. This is absolutely absurd and completely nonsensical,” he said. He added, “Homosexuality is not equal to heterosexuality. Scientifically this is absolutely absurd.”
The same reporter, McGarry, covered the story, stating how van den Aardweg pushed on saying that scientific institutions have been swayed by “active militant gays” in an effort to raise gay awareness.
It was these types of statements which spurred Gaffney to break her silence.
Also siding with Gaffney was Fergus Finlay, chief executive of Barnardos.
He told campaign supporters and reporters that parenting, “…was a function of quality, not of colour, not of income, not of race, not of gender, not of sexual orientation. You will not find anywhere a piece of literature that proves or establishes, or even raises a question mark, about some of the assertions that have been made by the ‘No’ campaign in this referendum,” he said.