Friday next, May 22, is a major date for every Irish citizen who is registered to vote. It is the date of the Marriage Referendum, in which we as citizens will vote on whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage in Ireland.
This is something I feel REALLY strongly about - personally I see it as a matter of civil rights and I think that the fact that there is even a referendum at all is ridiculous. For a long time, I happily assumed that a Yes vote would be ubiquitous - I, and everyone I surround myself with, would all be unified in our support for the Yes campaign - but in recent weeks, a No campaign (led by such 'wonderful' organisations like the infamous Iona Institute, and Mothers & Fathers Matter) has sprung up, with horrible ignorant posters like the below appearing on signposts around the country.
(Side note: I was cheered up to read that the couple used in these images [which were taken from a stock photo website] have denounced the use of their family photo in this campaign)
First of all, the main argument that the No side are using is that of the above - that every child deserves a mother and a father. Aside from this being a completely ridiculous and insulting argument towards not only same-sex parents, but one-parent families, children raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, etc - it is actually a completely invalid argument. Same-sex couples can actually already legally adopt in Ireland, and the referendum is in relation to marriage and marriage only, so pipe down hun, you haven't got a leg to stand on.
This is an issue that I feel so strongly about that I don't feel I can put it into words, especially when there has been so many amazing blog posts, articles and videos compiled in the last couple of weeks. Instead of writing a long-winded post, I'll share a couple of tweets I've posted, as well as media from various other sources that state the facts, that have moved me, and that I whole-heartedly agree with.
This video is from 2009!
Today we look back at the fight for equality & racial struggle of the African American community in the 50s/60s and think it ridiculous...— Aisling Owens (@AisOwens) April 21, 2015
...that there were actually laws that depicted them as lesser-deserving human beings. And yet there are ignorant bigots campaigning for a...— Aisling Owens (@AisOwens) April 21, 2015
... No vote, refusing to allow gay irish people to simply GET MARRIED. In 2015. Fucking ridic. Granted everyone is allowed an opinion, but..— Aisling Owens (@AisOwens) April 21, 2015
...it's hard to even comprehend let alone tolerate some of the arguments from the no side. I love Ireland & being Irish & I really hope...— Aisling Owens (@AisOwens) April 21, 2015
..that as a nation we do each other proud in May and take a step in the right direction by voting YES.Just think of the knees-up afterwards!— Aisling Owens (@AisOwens) April 21, 2015
| D U B L I N | The public reaction to this drawing has been unbelievable. Thank you all for the comments, likes and shares, I am only getting to filter through the start of these now. I would like to thank the following people for coming on board in the production and creation of this piece. They saw the energy & potential in it from the very start and without hesitation, invested their time and experience. Photographer - Seán Jackson Stylist - @colmcorrigan Grooming - @cashmandjmc Models - @barryjeffers & @jermsattacks Install Crew - Derek Fallon, Cian Byrne & @conorskc #streetart #yesequality #drawing #dublin #illustration #VoteYes
Letter to the editor in the Irish Times, 12/5/15
I also want to quickly mention that, back when I was in transition year of school, I was part of the school magazine committee, and one of the pages contained a Vox Pop, in which one of the questions asked was, "Should gay couples be allowed to marry/adopt in Ireland?" I was one of the respondents, and I can't remember exactly how I worded it (because I have no idea where that magazine is now), but I know my answer went something like "Absolutely, they deserve the same rights as everyone else".
Now bear in mind that this was 2007, in a rural Irish Catholic-ethos school, so unfortunately some of the other responses didn't echo mine. Sadly, those that answered that question negatively did so because they had grown up in a society that saw gay people as outcasts by not allowing them all of the same civil rights as straight people. That's why a yes vote is crucial, so that future generations will grow up, never imagining or comprehending why LGBT people were ever ostracised.
Rural Ireland has always been generally conservative and backward in its views towards progression, hence why I'm sad to be from a rural area at times like this. But progression is key, and change is good, so lets just hope that equality wins out next Friday.
Any No voters reading this (I really hope you are few and far between!!) - please bear in mind that if this referendum passes, all that will happen is same-sex couples will be able to simply celebrate their love for each other - legally. That's all. No ifs, no buts.
No question. Vote YES.