Irish sports star Ger Brennan has said he is voting against gay marriage in next week's referendum because children are best raised by a mother and a father.
Writing in the Irish Independent, Brennan noted the opposition supporters of traditional marriage have faced, and said he was "sick of the accusations being flung around that if you vote 'No' you are homophobic."
He commented: "I am voting 'No' because I don't want our Constitution to deny that it is a good thing for a child to have a mother and a father."
His powerful contribution to the debate came as members from Aontas—an association of Bible believing churches in Ireland—raised concerns about the impact same-sex marriage would have on schools and free speech.
Brennan, who represents Dublin GAA at Gaelic football, said he was "proud to love my gay family members and my gay friends," and that everyone, "regardless of sexual orientation, is an equal member of the human family."
And yet, he said, there is "more to the marriage debate than adult equality."
"The reason why the Constitution recognizes marriage in the first place is because of its role in connecting children with their biological parents.
"That's why the Constitution describes the family based on marriage as 'the natural primary fundamental unit group of society.'"
Brennan said: "I very nearly decided not to write this piece. I know I'll be targeted for it and labeled for it.
"It would have been easier to keep my mouth shut and not rock the boat. But I'm sick of the accusations being flung around that if you vote 'No' you are homophobic.
"I know I'm not homophobic; my gay friends and family can attest to that. I am voting 'No' because I don't want our Constitution to deny that it is a good thing for a child to have a mother and a father."
Members of Aontas said in their letter that they were "deeply concerned about the current proposal to redefine marriage."
They added that if same-sex marriage was voted in to Irish law then schools would be impacted.
"Already in the U.K., primary school text-books promote same-sex relationships regardless of the wishes of parents.
"The Taoiseach has recently stated that schools will be expected to promote same-sex marriage, if the referendum passes."
The letter's authors, Bill Brown and Michael Austin of Grace Bible Church, also said they were "deeply concerned at the significant erosion of free-speech rights which goes hand-in-hand with the legalization of homosexual marriage."
"As Christians we pray for those who take a different view. We urge our partner churches to show Christ's love to all and at the same time we urge a 'no' vote in the up-coming referendum," they concluded.
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