When Declan Doody wrote to Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern about the inequality of civil partnerships, he was dismayed to receive no response.
However, when he posted a copy of the letter on his Facebook account, his mother Helen was spurred into action to write her own.
Recalling his fear of bullies at school and her temporary shock when he came out, she wrote: “Your Civil Partnership Bill is not good enough for my family, and hundreds, thousands of other families in this country.”
Writing on queerid.com, Declan revealed he burst into tears when he read the letter she sent, which asked Ahern to “revise this bill so everyone can be equal”. The letter is fast becoming a hit on the internet.
Below is the letter in full.
Dear Mr Ahern,
My name is Helen Doody, you have already received and failed to reply to a letter that my own son Declan sent to you a week or so ago. So like any good and decent parent I am now trying to get you to listen to and protect my child – it is the very least that any mother would do for her own children.
I read Declan’s email and everything he said to you in the e-mail was true. He had a very tough time growing up in Abbeyfeale, I can still picture him crying in the mornings before he went to school because he was afraid of the people who were going to be waiting for him – bullies who would beat the living daylight out of him, people who crushed the very spirit within him. I tried numerous times to help him, I spoke to teachers, to the parents but the problem got a quick-fix but a weeks later it just continued on.
Declan was always a very shy and quiet boy but as the bullying continued he became more and more invisible. His Dad and I spent nights talking about him, wondering would he go to school in the morning, would he come home that evening with a ripped jumper or would his school copies be destroyed, we tried so hard to get him the help he needed but as the bullying continued, he started to shut his family out.
All of this began to change however the day Declan came out to me. I am not going to pretend that I handled it like a saint, it is a shock to the system, you don’t think about your child being gay, you just assume they are straight and when Declan told me I didn’t know what to do. I thought I had done something wrong, I thought it was my fault, I really thought that this was it for my son, when people started to find out that he was gay his entire world would turn into a living hell but it didn’t.
Over the coming weeks he began to change, I finally started to see him smile again and there was something different about his heart too. I saw my son reach a very dark and lonely place at the age of 16 but even at his lowest my son, had the courage and strength to come out and say he was gay.
He went to college with a new look on life, he finally seemed to be enjoying himself and it was only then I realised that there was nothing wrong with Declan. If my son was happy, if he was no longer worried about what other people thought about him then I knew that there was nothing wrong with being gay.
For many years he had kept a secret from me and his family because he thought we would reject him, like so many people had done to him before and now at the age of 23 he has graduated with a degree, a higher diploma and a masters. He has become the fine young man that his father and I are so very proud to be able to call our son.
When I heard on the news that gay people would now finally be able to register the relationships like any married couple I finally thought things had changed and I suppose many other people around the country like me thought the same. However I have now realised that what you plan on doing is nothing short of telling the gay community that they are still not equal. You will not tell my sons that they are not equal to their brothers, friends and the rest of society. Your Civil Partnership Bill is not good enough for my family, and hundreds, thousands of other families in this country. I might not be the smartest person in this country but even I can tell you that this bill is all but worthless and will only further the opinion that gay people are not the same as everyone else.
I have been there for all my sons when they have had their hearts broken by girlfriends and boyfriends. I helped them pick out gifts on Valentines day and shopped around for a Tux for the Debs. I have met boyfriends and girlfriends, I have liked some and been frosty to others. I have thought about each and every single of them getting married to someone that they love and who will love them back as much as I do.
I have six sons Mr Ahern, six very beautiful boys who became six very beautiful and upstanding young men!
Two of my boys are gay. Four are straight. Two are firemen. Two love playing video games. One loves to cook. Three of them love cars. Five of them have had their tonsils out.
All of them are my sons.
You have the power to change this country so do the right thing and change this country for the better, wake up and realise that there is still time to clean up this mess and give gay couples the same rights as straight couples.
I am asking on behalf of my gay children, their gay friends, my gay friends, my family, I am asking you as a member of this country, as a taxpayer but most of all I am asking you as a mother, to help my children and revise this Bill so everyone in this country can be equal.