Marriage Equality in Ireland?

Thursday evening,
21st May 2015


Dearest Friend,

Not until today have I been able to report about some progress…
And “progress” it might be – not just for me and people like us, but all of Ireland on a political standpoint!

You know I’m not a fanatic when it comes to politics in general, but a few weeks back I heard some popular gossip about a Marriage Equality referendum coming up for Irish citizens, where partitioners have the right to vote either Yes or No for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Civil Partnership has already been accepted in the eyes of The State, but many can agree as a whole it doesn’t constitute having the same rights and status as a traditional marriage is regarded on paper.

My feeling about this debate has always been one of doubt – in the thinking that Irish people (especially those that are conservative and from the older generation) might not be as open minded enough to tolerate anything that promotes awareness and rights for gay people.

At this point in time, it’s difficult to gauge the results of the public vote…
All around town we see posters suggesting their own agenda:
Yes – that Ireland should finally be seen as a country of equals, and No – that marriage sacredly is between a man and a woman, and that in the view of adoption same-sex couples are no match compared to “traditional” frameworks on what makes a family.
One poster reads: “A child needs it’s mother! No to surrogation!”
I have many connections that grew up fostered and in the care system and they regard this statement as outrageous, when you consider not every young person has the privilege of having any parent or safe home when they come into the world…

Although I can see where the No arguments stand – in that it appears more “preferable” for the family setting to see a couple of opposite sex as parents, but in some cases biological carriers aren’t always family-orientated, either, and it doesn’t mean just because of their societal makeup that their always more stable, loving parents over same-sex willing parents…

Honestly, the argument is 50/50 – none more persuasive over the other…
It all depends on the respect and experience of that individual to form a coherent view.
That is why I can see this voting panning out as nearly meeting the same numbers in the results; the younger generation suggesting Yes from social understandings, and the older generation pinning down no because of their religious pride and conservative views on family.
This, of course, is quite a stereotypical judgment I’m making, but from what I’ve observed speaking to different kinds of people, it’s surprisingly how people gear their suggestions…

We’ll have to see by tomorrow evening how Irish society decide to make history!

Yours always,

P.S. These are some of the “understandable” views below on why Irish people want to keep marriage as it stands:

1. “Marriage deserves special care – The State recognizes The Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society. The State pledges itself to guard with special care The Institution of Marriage, on which The Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

2. “Difference, Not Discrimination – we are being asked to support the radical idea that there is no difference or distinction between the marriage of a man and a woman and the marriage of two men or two women. If you agree, same-sex marriage will be recognized as a ‘natural, primary and fundamental’ unit group of society!
Because we are being asked to ‘redefine’ marriage, on which The Family is founded, your decision will have far-reaching consequences for children, education, employment law, equality legislation, freedom of speech and religious liberty.
There is a distinction between the union of a woman and man and the union of two men or two women. Recognizing difference and protecting difference is not discrimination!
What is needed here is equity that respects difference, not equality that destroys it.
Attempts to frame the referendum as a matter of equality ignore the fact that all people are already equal under the law.
By voting No we are protecting The State’s only-child-censored and child-orientation social institution.
A Yes vote makes the rights of children secondary to the desires of adults.”

3. “A child’s identity is important – A yes vote will change our Constitution to mean that children ‘do not’ have a right to a mother and a father.
In other words, a Yes vote will make it constitutionally impossible for the law to show any preference for a child having a mother and father in relation to adoption, surrogacy and DAHR.”

4. “Civil Partnership already gives legal rights – Civil Partnership already give legal rights and public recognition to same-sex unions. In Civil Partnerships, same-sex couples can express their commitment to each other and receive virtually all of the legal benefits granted to married couples.
A Civil Partnership ceremony is identical to a civil marriage ceremony, down to the saying of ‘I do’…”

5. “Keep ideology out of schools – If we pass this referendum, pressure will be placed on schools to teach that same-sex relationships are no different from the relationship between a man and a woman.
Already in the UK, primary school textbooks promote same-sex relationships, regardless of the wishes of parents.”

6. “Protect conscience rights and freedoms – Any business connected with marriage or weddings could find itself before the courts, if it refuses to provide it’s goods or services for a same-sex marriage…
If the referendum passes, the chances of businesses being sued for exercising their freedom of choice over how they provide their services is only going to increase. Small business owners may be especially vulnerable.”

7. “Every child deserves a mother’s love – The Yes campaign seems to believe that equality means erasing all differences between people.
A mature democracy does not obliterate differences but values and protects diversity, and fosters respect for people’s differences instead of fostering conflict based on those differences…
If marriage is redefined, men and women who marry will be denied proper State recognition or celebration of the distinctiveness of their union and, even more importantly, any recognition of their role and unique responsibility in creating and nurturing children.
On polling day we will be asked to support an amendment which says that when it comes to family, marriage and children, there is, to quote ‘No distinction between the marriage of a man and woman and of two men or two women’.
There is, however, a clear difference.
Men and women complement one another.
Children benefit from the balance that mothers and fathers bring to parenting…
There are times in a boy’s life where the absence of a father’s love will be particularly felt, and there are times in a girl’s life where only a mother’s love will do.
Because there is a distinction – vote No!”

Results of the Equality Referendum

Friday night,
22nd May 2015

Dearest Friend,
It’s a surprising outcome that the Irish referendum passed the Yes vote for same-sex marriage today!

Here is the latest news that I’ve researched, highlighting the positive feedback of the Yes vote:
“Truly a nation of equals – Today, we are more truly a nation of equals.
The people of Ireland have exercised their constitutional right and by direct vote they have said an empathic ‘Yes!’ to equality.
We now join 20 other countries where same-sex marriage has been made possible.
We are the first country in the world to do so by popular vote of the people.
This referendum was all about belonging – Irish lesbians and gay citizens had to ask the Irish people if they too can belong to Ireland and belong in Ireland.

In their deep generosity, the Irish people have said ‘Yes!’ – Yes, we do belong…
Today’s result means that having been ‘branded and isolated’ for decades, each lesbian and gay person knows now that they too belong in Ireland, as full, equal citizens.
It means more.
It means that lesbian and gay couples belong to each other in a rich, new, and profound way.
That lesbian and gay parents belong anew to their children, and their children to them.
And that mothers and fathers can now rest-assured that their lesbian and gay children belong in the same way as all their other children.

It means that all of us – lesbian, gay, straight, family members, friends, colleagues, allies, voters – belong equally to the Irish National Family.

To the Irish people, to those who voted ‘Yes,’ you have done something that should make you forever proud.
Do not forget this moment; this moment when you were your best self, when you chose to make your mark for an Ireland that could be a better and fairer place.
And to those who did not yet vote with us, we hope that, as lesbian and gay couples marry, you will see that we seek only to add to the happiness and security of the diverse Irish National Family.

While today is a day of celebration, it is only right that we should remember those who, over the years, were deprived of the opportunity that this ‘Yes’ brings, those who were deprived of a fundamental human right…
We should remember the many lives blighted by shame; lives lived in loneliness and isolation; lives lost to hostility and fear.
No longer should men and women have to hide a part of themselves from others or even themselves; no longer should they be deprived of the opportunity to love and beloved…

We should remember too and honour those who took the first brave and lonely steps that led us to this day: those who pointed up the discrimination, the inequality, the segregation; those who refused – often at a great personal cost – to be silenced or intimidated by the voices of intolerance; those who fought for equality, inclusion and recognition.
They laid the foundations for today’s transformative and historic change…
And there can be no doubt that this campaign for Marriage Equality has indeed been transformative.
It has given LGBTQ people in Ireland permission to love ourselves and come out more comfortably and completely, some for the first time ever…
It has generated a discussion and awareness among Irish people about equality, diversity and fairness – a discussion and awareness that will now flourish and grow…

While we know much remains to be done, today has been a turning point, one that should allow all lesbian and gay people in Ireland to fulfil their true potential – in family, in love and in life…
Now, we can all begin to work together to change the lived experience of being LGBTQ.
We can work together towards a day when only two people who love one another can feel fully safe expressing that love; when two people can, unmarked, walk down the street hand in hand.

We can work together to ensure that young LGBTQ people in Ireland discover their identity in an atmosphere of support, affirmation and belonging.
This touching – this uplifting – outcome belongs to the Irish people.

When the once -in-a-generation opportunity to make this landmark change was put before us, we grasped that opportunity with a resounding ‘Yes!’…
Today’s result belongs to You. Be forever proud of what you have done.
Today’s result belong to the many thousands of volunteers who spent days and weeks standing on streets, knocking on doors, engaging their communities and neighbours in countless conversations about equality, belonging and love.
Today’s result belong to the people who shared their personal stories, laying bare to their heartbreak, the loneliness, and the lost potential; touching hearts and minds; making it all but impossible for others to ignore the personal anguish and unnecessary pain inflicted by innate equality on our gay citizens, and it’s impact on so many lives.

The Irish people have now swept that world away…
Today’s result belong to the people who ran marathons, the people who baked cakes, the people who sold badges and t-shirts in every village and town to raise much-needed funds so that they could run a positive and constructive information campaign.
Today’s result to all of us – and together we can now move forward with our lives enriched and rejoice in the fact that we are on the right side of history, in a new nation of equals!

We will now add to our constitution these seventeen words:
‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two citizens without distinction as to their sex.’
With these words, we make it possible for our gay citizens to marry the person that they love.
As our former President, Mary Mc Aleese, said last week: ‘Our gay children will now be able to know the joy, peace and comfort of being part of a loving married couple, fully recognized at the highest level our country can offer.’

The Irish people have shown their compassion.
They have shown profound and touching generosity, humanity, and wisdom.
They have made an historic change.
The majority said one simple word; for a minority, that word means everything…
This movement saw a group of ordinary citizens undertake an extraordinary venture.
With their might and grace, these people have given their hearts and souls to make marriage inclusive for all citizens.

We are so proud of these people and of what they have helped to achieve.
Their achievement is no less than this: That today, we are true to the words of our Proclamation – ‘The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all it’s citizens…
Cherishing all of the children of our nation equally!” 😊

The turnout of the Equal Marriage referendum has become so controversial; several international news broadcasts now present the statement: “Ireland, the first country to pass same-sex marriage by public vote!”
As my friend Carol put it: “Now the world is looking at Ireland…”

As a whole, it’s still hard to digest the news – hard to grasp what this change means; how far we’ve come as a progressive society of people!

The citizens of my country have surprised me with their generosity and willingness to open their hearts and accept some positive but challenging change.

What once was powerfully led as a country filled with shame, due to scandals of abuse and control under power from The Catholic Church, now stands up with dignity in support of their young – not just for LGBTQ related issues, but in-action embracing the new generation themselves with pride…

What we’ve just accomplished as a people is a very big step – a massive leap for conservative folks, who also share their support – and it’s that energy of oneness that strikes me again, where I suddenly feel proud to be Irish and not afraid to show my affection.

I feel immense love building up in me, where I suddenly no longer doubt my footsteps of attraction, or acknowledging my sexuality as a beautiful thing…a somewhat different but lovely thing!

It just shows that love comes in all corners of love (as does fear), and it’s the human in us that we must stand up for what we believe in – to bring clarity in our complex societies and not feel shame or any less, among a nation of true equals!

That same-sex couples can celebrate their love in much the same way as everyone else has expressed – in union with God and respect of their State – takes on spiritual transformation in our collective reasoning for love and equality… That’s the biggest achievement here.

Not just that gay people have received recognition of equal respect – but that our collective consciousness is broadening, in the sense that our capacity of love, as a giving people, country and humanity, has become beautifully humble in allowing everyone the chance to love without fear; the very essence we human beings all deserve!

There’s so much more I could say – to express my gratitude of Ireland’s progress as a whole – but what strongly takes hold in my mind are these words: “You’re not alone in this… Voices like yours are being heard… Stay true!” 🤗😎

Yours always,

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