As campaigning for the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum continues to intensify, Amy O'Connor argues that we should not dismiss either side of the debate, but listen and be informed before making a concrete decision.
I bickered inwardly with myself and decided that I wouldn’t write something that stemmed from the campaign. I didn’t want or even realistically need to add to the noise or opinion-filled teat that the country is already feeding from. 
 
Alas, here I am doing the very thing that I said I wouldn’t. Why? Because I am becoming emotionally exhausted from this impending marriage referendum. Almost daily I am being manipulated into deciding what to vote and why, belittled down to the point where it’s as if I’m not intelligent enough to make my own, considerably educated mind up. 
 
As recent as last month, there wasn’t a scintilla of doubt in my mind that I’d be penciling in a mark in the Yes box. Why would I vote otherwise? Ireland is, in all respect, a social mess and we are constantly striving for a more egalitarian society, so why would I, a young, straight woman free from traditional inherited judgment and past narrow-mindedness, vote No?
 
Well, last month I wouldn’t. This month, I’m not too sure. 
 
We live in a democratic State or so it seems, yet No voters are led to feel shame and embarrassment as a result of their choice. Socialites, politicians and organisations across the country are taking a standpoint and supporting the Yes campaign.
 
Yes posters hang prominently through small town streets while No posters are pulled down and defaced. Hardly just, don’t you think?
 
As someone who has been raised through my most formative years by a single father, I am an Irish citizen who too has been insulted by the No campaign posters and leaflets many times over.

'Every Child Deserves A Mother’s Love’ and ‘She Needs Her Mother For More Than Just Nine Months’ are extremely hurtful and idealistic slogans with little comprehension for reality. 
 
The importance placed on women in the No campaign posters subliminally screams that they haven’t got a problem with lesbian couples and the real issue here seems to be two men getting married. 
 
The No argument is fairly hypocritical and somewhat trite, but it’s an argument nonetheless and deserves as much consideration as the Yes one.  
 
Sociologically, I understand the root of the No argument. Gender balancing is imperative in life and over the last two decades Ireland has, albeit unsuccessfully, tried to create a country that embodies this very ideal.  
 
Gender balancing is necessary in work and in education, so we should ask why it is not important in parenting. It is. I have craved a female presence in my home environment for quite some time now. 
 
I have known what it is like to grow up with two parents of separate gender and with one, and I know all the difference that that can make, but I also appreciate that family life and love cannot be limited to such a simplistic and ideal model. 
 
The Yes campaign on the other hand are also vexatious in their tactical approach. Last Friday I sat down to watch the referendum debate on The Late Late Show and became somewhat bothered by the arguments presented by Una Mullally, a journalist I very much admire, and Colm O’ Gorman. 
 
I wholly want an equal society and believe in such for every individual however, the referendum isn’t as simple as the equality argument that the Yes side are pushing upon the public. There are myriad factors at play in this referendum and they cannot be simply limited to the word equality. 
 
If this was simply a matter of equality and as simple as a man and another man or a woman and another woman having the ability to pledge their eternal love for one another and subsequently be able to ride off in a car with ‘Just Married’ strewn across the back, then the No side wouldn’t stand a chance. 
 
In order to attain a fair result we, the public, need to look at every angle when making our decision concrete and not just take the argument of equality/inequality at face value. 
 
We need not to succumb to societal pressure of the Yes vote nor bow down to the No vote in a bid to hide in the familiar. We need to educate, listen and decide. Otherwise, what’s the point in voting?