Thank You Fidelma

The Marriage Equality Referendum will take place in Ireland on May 22nd where every Irish citizen (who is over 18 & on the register of electors) will be asked whether "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex". That's it - a simple question. Do you believe two people can be married regardless of their sex. A man and a woman, two women, two men - All equal in the eyes of the law in our country. Nothing more, just equal. 


I had (up until last week) naively assumed that this was a foregone conclusion. I assumed the people of Ireland would come out and stand side by side with their LGBT brothers and sisters and Vote Yes for equality - vote yes for a fairer Ireland where people have the same right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. I assumed incorrectly. 

Last Sunday, I ran a marathon, then went home to Ennis where myself and my husband spent the day with my dad (it was his birthday), my mum (it was mother's day) and my uncle and his wife who were christening their baby. I drove my grandfather home after the meal as he was tired. I got to spend time with my nephew (and Godchild). I chatted with my cousin and my brother. It really was a lovely day filled with love from all sides.

As the evening drew to a close, I was flicking through Twitter and I saw Fidelma Healy Eames had posted the following:


Fidelma is a local senator in Oranmore (where I live) and while her tweet really didn't sit well within me, I chose to ignore it. Fast forward to Tuesday, St Patrick's Day - I was standing watching the parade go by with my brother-in-law, his wife and their three children. We got ice-cream from the ice cream truck, we clapped as the first class kids dressed as shamrocks walked past and at one point I had my nephew up on my shoulders because he was tired from all the standing around. I looked up at the grand marshal's stand and low and behold... Fidelma.

In one of those moments I can only put akin to the resolution-part of a movie when the main character finally pieces everything together only moments before something dramatic happens - everything clicked together for me. I am at one point of the voting spectrum with my opinion, Fidelma, although she hasn't stated how she is voting, appears to be at the other side with hers. Both of us are equally entitled to our opinions and while I personally don't agree with hers - she may not agree with mine.  

The following thought crossed my mind: 'What will happen if on May 23rd, the day after the referendum, the votes are tallied and Ireland  has voted No?'. I can't begin to imagine how I'll feel let alone the tens of thousands of other Irish LGBT people (both here and abroad) who have been told NO by the rest of our country. 

NO we don't see your marriage the same as our marriage. 
NO we don't think ye deserve the same rights as we have. 
NO we don't see your love as equal to ours. 

My mind continued to wander - If Ireland votes No, I will be devastated. I'll ask myself "Was there anything I could have done differently?". My conclusion will probably be that Ireland hasn't moved on, Ireland just isn't ready and that there are more people living in this country that see their marriage as more superior to the civil partnership I have here in Oranmore with my husband.


I realise that doing nothing is going to be worse than doing something. For that reason I want to thank Fidelma Healy Eames. Thank you for giving me the kick I needed to wake me up to the fact that Marriage Equality can and will be won in Ireland - but only if people care enough to fight for it. And while the focus of the Marriage Equality campaign will be focused on cities and larger towns around the country, this St Patricks Day has shown me the latent power hiding in plain sight in all the small towns and villages around our beautiful country.





Comments

  1. Super piece John, I hadn't thought of it this way. Im an optimist in this situation and the no vote never crossed my mind. Im optimistic for MY Ireland to move with the times, move with people and vote for humans and love. If they don't, Ill be ashamed for them.

    www.saibhegan.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much Saibh - I too am an optimist and my heart believes the people of Ireland will do the right thing. The one thing I can guarantee is that I wont sit back and wait to see how this pans out. I'm getting involved

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  2. John I too have this fear. I myself am not lgbt, however I have 2 young children and I don't know what there future life looks like. I never want my children to feel that they need to place themselves in a closet to suit societies insecurities, I do not want my children judged based on their sexuality, I do not want them to feel the need to fit into certain gender roles to be mainstream, I do not want them to be denied the right to love and I do not want them thinking that their love needs to be censored because it's closeted.

    I will support my children's future rights by voting yes, by bringing my children to celebrate pride festival and by not using fears as a means of judgement.

    The what if's are what the no campaign are based on. I'm a what the hell kinda a girl.

    Here's to love John :-)

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    1. Thanks Claire :) The irony of the No side to this referendum is that while they believe they are protecting children and the ideal of a traditional family, it is those very children that will end up going through pain and hurt like so many before them. I believe in love, I believe that people will do the right thing on the ballot paper.

      If Ireland was filled with more mothers like you (and my own), we wouldn't be where we are today x

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  3. We should start a t-shirt trend with a big colourful yes on it:-)

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  4. We should start a t-shirt trend with a big colourful yes on it:-)

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  5. There are things that should just 'be'. There should be no reason to discuss, no reason to debate, no reason to vote. The freedom to make personal decisions that in no way affect anyone else should be just that, freedom.

    Well written John, As for our good senator I think she is one of those people who tries too hard to be one of the cool kids and just keeps putting her foot in her mouth.

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    1. Thanks Sean! While there should be no reason to discuss or debate it, it is happening. I was at a Marriage Equality meeting where a lady asked "if its equality we are after, why straight couples not allowed have a civil partnership". This is the reality of Ireland today. A lot of educated well informed people out there but there is also a lot who aren't. Its unfortunate but hopefully the YesEquality campaign will get through to them.

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  6. I hope, I really hope that there's a Yes vote. I live in a very small, very rural, and very backward village - one of many. I have heard as many opinions against it (none of which are valid, sorry - I know people are entitled to their opinions but the reasons I've heard are ignorant and stupid, fact) as I have for it, unfortunately. I think that those who feel very strongly against the law being passed will get out and they will vote no. Likewise those of us who feel strongly about a Yes vote. Which means those who are a bit meh/don't really mind/each to their own need to go and do it - none of the usual "I don't think I can get home" or "Ah I'll do it after work" or "I don't want to have to get up early" - I have three sons. All, any, or none may want to marry some other Mam's son someday, so it's incredibly important to me as a Mam and as a woman and as a wife to make sure that whoever they grow up to love, they get to make decisions themselves whether or not they want to get married, and not have to rely on politics to make it for them. Fingers crossed!

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    1. If we could bottle up your attitude Sharon, I'd spray it all over! The biggest irony of all of this in trying to protect "the children" is that they are the ones that will continue to live in the same cycle as so many before them. Its their right to a fairer, more equal Ireland and it's people like you, myself and otherwise likeminded people that'll make that happen come May 22nd.

      Thanks for the comment Sharon :)

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  7. Well said John. Ireland needs to move on, we are not in the dark ages anymore!

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