herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

'I sided with 'Yes' campaign so my kids can be proud'

Debbie Scales campaigning for a Yes vote with belongto.org
Debbie Scales campaigning for a Yes vote with belongto.org
Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Fine Gael deputy for Dun Laoghaire pictured with 8 months old Koko Millard Byrne

DEBBIE Scales signed up to volunteer with LGBT group BeLonG To to make her two young children proud down the line.

The mum-of-two has two daughters, Ayla (8) and Caoimhe (6), and has been volunteering with the group in the run-up to the referendum.

She told the Herald that though she is straight, and so are those in her family, she got involved because she was shocked to hear how young LGBT people are more likely to suffer from poor mental health.

SERVICES

BeLonG To is an organisation that provides a range of services for LGBT people aged between 13 and 24 and their families.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Fine Gael deputy for Dun Laoghaire pictured with 8 months old Koko Millard Byrne
Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Fine Gael deputy for Dun Laoghaire pictured with 8 months old Koko Millard Byrne

Ms Scales has been doing administrative work for the group five mornings a week in preparation for Friday's vote.

"I have two young children and I don't want to have to say to them in 10 years that we had the opportunity to change things for the better and we didn't," she said.

This is her first time campaigning for LGBT rights but she is passionate about securing a 'Yes' vote.

"I attended a public meeting and I was so taken aback by some of the statistics that I signed up straight away," she said.

"Since I started I've heard so many stories of discrimination people faced in the past, and to think we are on the cusp of something that is the other extreme spurred me on," she added.

Ms Scales has been married to her husband, James, for 11 years.

Read more: Religious leaders hit out at school LGBT week

Working on the campaign has really opened her eyes to the fact that it is essentially a human rights issue, she said.

It has also made her realise how lucky she was when it came to her own wedding.

"I find it really hard to believe that I got married and asked nobody's permission and that not everyone has that opportunity.

"I think my marriage would mean even more to me if everyone else had the same right," she revealed.

Her eldest daughter is very aware of the referendum and was shocked to hear that gay people couldn't marry at the moment her mum said.

"She just said 'do you mean they can't already?'," she recalled. "It would be great if it was a world according to eight-year-olds."

The Drimnagh resident has also been canvassing with the Yes Equality group in the evenings and is anxious about the chances of the 'Yes' side succeeding in Friday's vote.

Though she has met many people who have decided that they will be voting in favour of same-sex marriage there is still a sense of indecision on the doorsteps, she said.

NERVOUS

"It's so hard to tell. A lot of people we meet are still not 100pc sure and I would always be nervous about polls when you consider previous referenda," she explained. "It's certainly not in the bag."

"It's people like me who are married with kids and who aren't gay that might not realise how important it is to get out and vote 'Yes'," she continued.

"People need to get out and vote."

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