With the upcoming marriage equality referendum in Ireland, the country is in the midst of heavy debate. A considerable number of Irish citizens are in favor of same-sex couples’ rights to marry; others, like journalist and patron of conservative Catholic advocacy group Iona Institute, Breda O’Brien, oppose it fervently.

When posed with the image of a fatherless household run by a mother and grandmother, she was asked for the difference between that and a household run by a lesbian couple. She responded: “Do you think we should change the Constitution to allow grandmothers and their daughters to marry?”

O’Brien says she doesn’t oppose civil partnerships for same-sex couples in general, but draws the line at marriage when children often become involved.

She believes a mother-daughter household is acceptable because, although the child’s father is absent, the child’s right to having a father has not been “taken away,” as would be with a lesbian couple.

She told “Morning Ireland” that she believes it is “very clear” that the best environment for children is a household run by a father and mother.

This response from O’Brien follows the government’s release of the wording that will be added into article 41 of Ireland’s Constitution should the referendum pass:

“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

O’Brien says that if passed, the referendum will make it impossible to infer that a household run by a man and woman is “preferable” when it comes to raising a child, the Journal said.

Labour TD Dominic Hannigan, who married his long term male partner in London last year, pointed out that one in four children in Ireland do not have a “traditional” family structure that includes a mother and father for various reasons, and that the government has put the rights of children “at the forefront of legislation” since it took office.

The new law is about “making sure their futures are protected,” Hannigan said.

He added that, though there is widespread support in Ireland for the referendum, citizens should not assume it’s been won; he and encourages all to campaign for a 'Yes' in addition to voting so.

“A very, very difficult campaign would have to be fought,” he said. “We cannot allow this to be lost because of complacency or apathy.”

Before the marriage equality referendum in May, the government plans to enact the Children and Family Relationships Bill that will cover the controversial issue of gay adoption and potentially allow gay couples to jointly adopt rather than individually adopt.

Difference between mother-daughter household and a lesbian household is child’s initial right to a father, she says.YouTube