Why I am voting Yes in the Marriage Equality Referendum

17 May 2015

I grew up in an Ireland that was always more tolerant and fair minded in reality than our laws would suggest. We had to campaign for years for deserted wives, for divorce rights, for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and for other progressive social measures which didn’t create a new reality for Ireland, but rather recognised a reality that already existed.

This referendum is another example of the legislation following the reality. Right now, in this country, there are thousands of gay people in long term, committed and loving relationships who at this moment are treated as a second class of citizen in the eyes of the Constitution. We all know someone who is gay and who will tell you about the stigma they have faced in Ireland, from everyday homophobia, to institutionalised discrimination such as not recognising a same sex union as a marriage.

Some people ask why we need a referendum on this as we already have Civil Partnership legislation in place. Well, civil partnership is not marriage and while it was welcome step at the time, I believe it codifies inequality. It states explicitly that a same sex couple are seen as different in the eyes of the State as a man and woman.

This Referendum is quite simple, it is about Equality. When this referendum is passed, the outcome will not make any difference to me, or to many people I know. But it will make a big difference to gay people in Ireland who will have their relationships considered equal in the eyes of the State.

This is an issue which has enthused so many people in North County Dublin and throughout the country. The nationwide action of the Yes campaigners has been astonishing. In all my life as a political activist, I have never seen such a reaction from grassroots civil society as I have in the Yes Equality campaign. People who have never canvassed before are out every night, knocking on doors, leafletting housing estates, canvassing train stations and shopping centres. It is truly inspiring to see such positive campaigning and action.

It is telling that there is no such grassroots organisation emerging on the No side. On the opposing side, there is no canvassing, no positivity and no real focus on the issue at hand; Equality. The opposing side are focusing on mistruths and spreading fear in an attempt to defeat this referendum. I don’t think it will work as I see the positivity on every canvas and the willingness of so many people to vote yes.

I am voting Yes quite simply, because it is the fair-minded and right thing to do. Strengthening society is about inclusivity and equality. This is what this referendum is about and I know the people of North County Dublin will come out and have their voices heard in favour of a Yes Vote!

I am encouraging anybody who wants to Vote Yes, to make sure they make a plan to get to the polling station on Friday 22nd to make their vote count.