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(LifeSiteNews) – Ireland's Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, has announced both the date of an upcoming referendum on same-sex “marriage” and that he supports the “yes” side on the vote to redefine marriage.

Kenny revealed on Friday that the preferred date for the referendum is May 22.

In his closing address to the Fine Gael national conference held in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Kenny said a Yes vote would send out a “powerful signal” that Ireland had become a “fair, compassionate and tolerant nation,” according to an Irish News report.

“I believe that this is the right thing to do. I, and the Fine Gael Party, strongly support a Yes vote,” Kenny said.

According to reports in Irish media, Health Minister Leo Varadkar announced last month that he is a homosexual, becoming the first openly homosexual Irish cabinet minister in the history of the Irish state.

Meanwhile, Pat Carey, 67, a former Irish government minister serving as Minister for Equality until 2011, told Ireland's national TV and radio broadcaster, RTÉ, in an interview last week that he also was a homosexual, saying he hoped that revealing his homosexuality at this time would encourage older voters, who are traditionally conservative and Catholic, to support the yes vote.

All of the major Irish political parties, Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, support changing the definition of marriage, while a few politicians, the Catholic Church, and pro-life and pro-family organizations are opposed.

The pro-family Iona Institute issued a media release saying they would oppose the proposition. “It now seems clear that virtually all of the political parties in Ireland are prepared to radically change for the worse the most important child-centred social institution we have,” said the group.

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“They no longer see any reason why we should have a social institution dedicated above all to encouraging men and women to raise their children together. To this extent, they are attacking the natural rights of children.”

The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference issued a pastoral statement, The Meaning of Marriage, which advises the faithful that “to redefine the nature of marriage would be to undermine it as the fundamental building block of our society. The Church seeks with others to reaffirm … that marriage should be reserved for the unique and complementary relationship between a woman and a man from which the generation and upbringing of children is uniquely possible.”

Archbishop Eamonn Martin commented while appearing on the Newstalk call-in show, “We make our position clear not just from a faith point of view but also because we believe it is good for children, that it’s good for family and it’s good for society to preserve the uniqueness of marriage as we have traditionally understood it.”

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen told the Irish Times, “If the arguments are properly heard, I think people will find that the current definition of marriage is fairest and best, all things considered.”