Family.

What’s the first image that comes to mind when you think of that word, “family”? I’m willing to bet that most people will likely think of something resembling their own situation, whether that be a mother and father with kids, a single-parented family, children raised by adoptive parents, and so on. We can see a common factor here: children.

But here’s the clincher; the bit that No campaigners aren’t telling you; the part that undermines so many of their “arguments”:

A married couple without children can properly be described as a “unit group” of society such as is referred to in Article 41 … The words used in the Article to describe the “Family” are therefore apt to describe both a married couple with children and a married couple without children. – Murray v Ireland (1985) IR 532

Despite what various No campaigners say, a married man and woman with children is not legally the most basic unit group of society; a married couple is, regardless of how many children they may or may not have.

We can see that any arguments stating that man-woman-child families are the most basic family – and that same-sex marriage would redefine this – immediately fall flat on their face. Marriage forms a family, and nothing more is necessary.

You will often hear bleating from certain people about how children do best when raised by their natural married mother and father. In a sense they’re right, but not for the reasons they think they’re right. For example, in this “traditional family”, if anything happens to one of the parents, the child has an automatic guardian in the other parent. But if the parents are unmarried (which would be the case currently with same-sex couples) this may not happen automatically, as the the non-related parent has to adopt the child before he or she can be a guardian. This is changing now, however, thanks to the Children & Family Relationships Act, which will allow same-sex couples to adopt children, as opposed to just one person adopting, but I have no doubt that children raised by unmarried parents can cause all sorts of potential problems if one parent is not seen as next-of-kin.

Of course, some families may not be able to have children for various reasons. Maybe their bits and pieces aren’t working as well as they hoped, or maybe nature is doing its thing and the senior years have arrived. According to the logic of some No campaigners, these people would also not be considered a family, as they can’t have children. As we know now, though, that’s nonsense, thanks to Murray v Ireland (1985).

Either way, some people, married or not, are unable to have children. One potential solution to this is surrogacy. Part 5 of the Children & Family Relationships Act deals with it, and the Dept of Justice has produced useful information to assist in various legal matters relating to surrogacy. The adults involved can be married or unmarried: it makes no difference.

As you can see, surrogacy is unrelated to marriage. Even Keith Mills, member of Mothers & Fathers Matter, a group advocating a No vote, agreed that it’s unrelated.

Surrogacy should be debated elsewhere. Grand job.

But wait! If you’ve been wandering around these last couple of days you may have noticed a load of posters popping up. Something like this:

Quelle surprise, they were produced by Mothers & Fathers Matter. Why vote No in a marriage referendum on something that has nothing to do with marriage? Well, because it was dealt with in already-passed legislation. Or something.

Ah.

Keith and Mothers & Fathers Matter made a big U-turn because they say the Children & Family Relationships Bill was rushed through (it wasn’t; it had been worked on since at least early 2014). And despite Keith’s misgivings, the marriage referendum will not allow people to voice an opinion on surrogacy. Why not? Because the referendum is completely unrelated.

Voting No will not change the now-enacted provisions for surrogacy. Simple as that.

A lot of No campaigners are basing their arguments on the above. They are campaigning against people adopting, people making surrogacy arrangements, and people getting married. They want to prevent a considerable number of our fellow citizens from forming a family through marriage, or by growing their families by being able to lovingly raise children.

Why is the No campaign so anti-family? Anyone?

If these posters annoy you as much as they annoy me, please consider making a donation to Yes Equality to help them fund their own posters. Every little helps, no matter how much you can give.