Ireland’s former President weighs in on equal marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has weighed in ahead of the country’s referendum on same-sex marriage.

The Republic of Ireland is set to vote on May 22 on a proposal to introduce civil same-sex marriage.

Former Fianna Fáil politician Mary McAleese, who was the country’s president from 1997 until 2011 – spoke in favour of a ‘Yes’ vote in an interview with Newstalk‘s The Right Hook.

She said: “I’m hoping very much, my husband and I are both hoping very much, that it will be passed. We believe it to be a human rights issue.

“We’ve been watching with great interest the debate as it’s been evolving in Ireland and the concerns that people have in and around it.

“We’ve been thinking about it for a very long time, a very, very long time, and contemplating it for a long time.

“People have been saying it’s about children – it’s about Ireland’s gay children and about their future and about the kind of future we want for Ireland.

“We want, in the words of the proclamation: ‘The children of a nation to be cherished equally’.

“The adult children, the children yet unborn, the gay children yet unborn – we want them to be born into a world where if they fall in love with someone they can express that love fully.”

The prominent Catholic also expressed frustration with the Catholic church, saying it was “likely to change in future” on the issue.

She said: “Our thinking, the world’s thinking, about homosexuality is changing.

“The sheer weight of medical evidence, the sheer weight of psychiatric evidence now is challenging views that were formed, you could say, in ignorance, and I think they will change over time.

“They’ve already changed elsewhere and we’ve seen in many, many countries now embracing the idea that homosexuality is a perfectly normal human sexual expression and that it is, as it has been thought in the past, a skewed, or in the words of the church, the rather regrettable words of the church – when I think back to what Benedict has written about it when he described it as ‘intrinsically disordered’.

“Many of us do not believe it to be ‘intrinsically disordered’ but believe it to be a perfectly normal human adaptation.”

Ms McAleese first expressed her support for equal marriage in 2012, when she said gay people are “as entitled to live their lives on their own terms, as I do as a heterosexual”, adding: “I’m just thrilled anyone wants to get married.”