Mothers and fathers do matter, says straight married woman, Ciara Sidine, and that’s why we need to vote yes.
I am a mother. I matter. I’m married to the father of my children. He matters too. We’re lucky because we can take for granted that we matter. It’s woven into the fabric of the world we live in, we’re the main colour in the tapestry, and we form the repetitive motif that draws the gaze into view.
We know we matter because that has been reinforced to us since the day we were born, straight as a dye, into the world. At home we found out that mothers and fathers matter because we loved our own, and that love was the centre of our lives as we grew. At school we found out that mothers and fathers matter because the books told us that, and at mass we knew they mattered because there was lots of talk about that sacred unit, the family. I knew just how much my mother and father mattered because when they argued, I felt as if the centre of my world might fall apart. And when they came together again, so too did my world, newly steadied.
As I grew older and began to experience the world through a widening perspective, nothing ever convinced me that mothers and fathers didn’t matter. They matter when they get it right, and they matter when they get it wrong. And all mothers and fathers get it right sometimes, and wrong others. The best we can hope for is that mothers and fathers do their best to make the times they get it right outweigh those when they get it wrong. Promote love over hate. Truth over lies. And to be grown up enough to own up when we get it wrong.
So when I see a campaign set up to deny gay people the right to equal marriage call itself Mothers and Fathers Matter, it makes me mad. And here’s why:
It’s a big fat misnomer. It suggests that a move to equality is a denial of the rights of mothers and fathers. That is just a flat untruth. And untruths are ugly, never more so than when they stand in the way of the human rights of others, to love, to create life, to parent, as they so choose.
If mothers and fathers matter for anything, it’s to bring up our children in a world where no one gets to sit in a special place on the bus, while someone else is forced down the back. A world where the lives of our whole community are reflected in the environment and culture – at home, in school, and everywhere family comes together, in all its forms – so that we can live not out of fear but out of tolerance and openness. Mothers and fathers matter so that we can try and create a better, fairer world for our children, who are born gay, transgender, bisexual, straight, and anywhere else on the magical spectrum of humanity that makes them who they are.
Mothers and fathers matter. As do mothers and mothers. As do fathers and fathers. We matter because the future generation is in our hands, and we have to unite to ensure that these qualities – of tolerance, openness, love, respect – are enshrined into our kids so they can go out there and create an even better, fairer world to live in. A world that reinforces their important place, where they can stand together and be counted. So while mothers and fathers matter, what is vitally more important is that parents matter. And that is because children matter.
And I’m going to say that again, because its importance cannot be overstated, and for me this is a key reason why Yes Equality has to pass: Children matter.
Ciara Sidine, mother, singer-songwriter, and Yes Equality campaigner
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