Sunday, 31 May 2015

Just Say Yes

Latest blog post  :  Just Say Yes

I won't be voting in the Marriage Equality referendum.  Not that I don't want to.  I really do.  My  fuzzy brain didn't realise that I will be out of the country on the day.   I'm raging with myself, as I'm a firm believer that everyone has an obligation to get off their butts and vote.  And that my vote counts. 

Until last week, I was complacent that the 'Yes' vote would be passed overwhelmingly.  The cultural circles that I move in are overwhelmingly 'Yes' people.  I think it's fair to say that gay people who move in these circles can more open about their sexual orientation.  In these circles, real life gay people live real lives - they have jobs, eat food, wear clothes, breathe, the usual stuff.  I conclude therefore that their 'non-gay' friends are most likely to want the same rights for their friends.  

Last weekend, I did a bit of a poll, asking some of relations how they were going to vote.  Seventy-Something-Fine-Gael-Farmer said that he would be voting 'No', because he voted No in every other referendum.  'That's no way to make up your mind about THIS referendum, surely ?', sez I.  He recalled how the Lisbon Treaty referendum was initially rejected by the Irish people.  'When we said No the first time, we meant No ! But (Brian) Cowan made us do it again, til we said Yes'.  He did have a point, but grounds to vote 'No' now ? Hardly ? He wasn't for changing his mind. 

This rationale for voting 'No' is disturbing, but his vote will be as valid as anyone else's.  I am concerned that other people who don't know 'real' gay people or are homophobic to some extent will quietly vote No.  The very people that a 'No' vote won't affect their options and rights.

The first divorce referendum in Ireland was in 1986.  At the time, I remember someone remarking that if it was passed, that 'every 17 year old tramp in the country would run off to get married'.  I was 12 years old then and remember the shock I felt hearing that.  Did people not deserve a second chance ?  Who the hell would want to get married at 17 anyway ??

There was wide spread concern at the time amongst the farming community that wives would seek divorce and take 'half the farm', that had been in the family for generations.  I'd say more than one farmer reflected on his taken-for-granted wife and her contribution to making a home and a business and then voted 'No'.  A 'protect my assets' stance.  The divorce referendum was defeated.  Thankfully, in a further referendum in 1995 (when the 'No' campaign used the infamous 'Hello Divorce, Goodbye Daddy posters), it was  passed.  A few farms may have been split in two along the way, but it appears that not too many 17 year olds, tramps or otherwise, ran off to get married. 

Over the last few weeks, I've been listening to various debates on radio about the Marriage Equality campaign.  To put it mildly, the 'No' campaign have been up my nose.   Their often bizarre arguments against Marriage Equality and their views on what constitutes 'family' is insulting to so many people - The straight couple I met recently who had much wanted twins by surrogacy - The men I know who have done a wonderful job raising their children alone, after the death if their wives - My friend who used donor eggs to have her babies, after years of trying every other option with her husband - The gay couple who have fostered a son over many years and given him the opportunity of a better life - Single parents and their children reading the horrendous 'Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father' posters on their way to school - Every gay person I know and every gay person I don't know - Me, as a human being, a mother and a stepmother.  

We are all just people getting on with life, making the best decisions that we can for whatever constitutes family to us.  

Thankfully, the grip that the Catholic Church had on our society has diminished greatly.  Given this and the general acceptance of people 'living together', I am surprised that so many people, including young people, still wish to get married.  I guess that we are a nation of romantic divils at heart.  Why deny gay people that opportunity ? Marriage sadly didn't work for me and I'm terribly about that.  But I take comfort that I live in a country where I have many options that are supported by a legal framework if I find love again.

I'm very disappointed that I can't vote in the Marriage Equality referendum.  If I did it would be a whole hearted 'Yes'.  A Yes for love.   A vote of optimism.  To say a communal 'sorry' for the hurt inflicted on gay people in Ireland over the decades.  Out of compassion for other human beings.  

If you just 'don't get' the gay marriage thing, I would respectfully suggest that just you don't marry someone of the same sex.  You don't even have to be their friend. But please don't stand in the way of other people's happiness x.

#MarRef #YesEquality #LetsMakeHistory

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