Here’s my speech to the Constitutional Convention on 13th April 2013:
My name is Conor Pendergrast. I’d like to talk to you briefly about my family. There’s me, my brother Daragh and our two mums Ann and Bernadette.
My brother and I were both born in London. In 1995, our family moved to Ireland, where we lived in Co. Kildare. We settled in and made a life here.
Both my brother and I have been through primary and secondary school here, and I’ve gone on to university, where I studied an undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology.
Daragh has since moved to New Zealand to work and study there, where our remaining grandparents live, along with cousins, aunt and uncle.
We are a family, like any other. We love and support each other.
What differentiates us, though, is how we are treated by the Irish State. Unlike other families, we don’t have the legal protection of being a fully-recognised family.
What this means in reality is that I only have a legal relationship to my mum who gave birth to me. My other mum is a stranger to me in the eyes of the law.
When I was little she couldn’t give legal consent to anything on my behalf.
Although we were blissfully unaware of it, that left me and my brother in a legal vacuum, with less rights and protections than other children.
I don’t want to face a future when my mum is older, where the caring shoe is on the other foot, where I am not recognised as her son, as her legal next of kin.
I’m lucky enough to now be engaged myself, which for me is obviously wonderful, but is still a little bitter-sweet.
I’ve been with my girlfriend for 6 years, but my parents have been together for 32 or so.
Yet, they can’t have their love recognised through marriage, but I can.
That’s what marriage is for really: Recognising love.
My parents having the opportunity to get married doesn’t devalue my relationship, it strengthens it.
By getting marriage equality discussed on a public, national platform in Ireland, you’re going to help to protect and respect families like mine.
I thank you for the opportunity to share my story in-person.
For my parents, my family, my friends and all of the other lesbian and gay people in Ireland, I am asking you to recommend to the Government to provide for ‘same-sex marriage’.