Wednesday, 20 May 2015


I barely know how to begin. So, so many thoughts and feelings are swirling around inside of me. Last night, sleep was fitful, to say the least. I felt panicked, anxious but had no reason to be.

And then a friend on facebook said that this week felt like the run-up to the Leaving Cert to her.

That was it. It was dread. Nerves. Fear.

This Friday, the 22nd of May, 2015, Ireland votes. A referendum has been called for two things: to lower the minimum age for presidential candidates and to legalise same-sex marriage. While the first issue is one that deserves due thought, it's the second that's keeping me up at night.

The consensus is that this will pass. That equality will obviously be granted and justice will prevail. I want to believe this to be true but there are no certainties. Things do not merely happen - people make them happen.

I've spoken about the referendum with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, I've worn my support, promoted it across the 'net. And, yet, I haven't allowed myself to think about it too deeply because the fear is overwhelming: what would happen if it didn't pass? How would it affect the country and people I love so dearly? How would we all handle the rejection? The black and white declaration that we are not the same, not equal in some people's eyes.

Now I can think of little else.

This needs to happen. It must.

On a basic level, I think it insulting that two consenting adults, who have no reason to be kept apart, cannot be married. I think it distasteful that other people get to decide their fate. Democracy is obviously important but some things are sacred and so infinitely personal that it seems crazy to be voting on them.

A yes vote will change marriage - it will make it equally available. But that's it. That's where the change ends. It's already changed in the last couple centuries beyond recognition and those changes have been for the better. For much of the Western world, marriage is something two people in love do to solidify and express that love. Previously it was merely a contract, a way to strengthen business and familial ties, to control the lives and paths of women - change clearly isn't always a bad thing.

Some ask why people need marriage, why civil partnership is not enough. Aside from the increased legal security and privileges that this term carries over the other, it is what it is and means that people are fighting for. Marriage is something most take for granted, some run screaming from and others spend their lives imagining. It is a moment that each life is not empty without but crowns many, where they stand with the human they like most in the world and celebrate their love and vow it in front of the other humans that they are fond of. It is one of the few moments that such groups come together for something so positive, where everyone is literally celebrating the fact that you've found someone you're willing to pledge yourself to forever.

While many marriages fail and many don't believe in them, there's something wonderfully human (and a little full of folly) about them. Something essentially human about them. Which makes denying marriage to people a little like denying their humanity.

I would never normally ask someone to vote one way or another but I am asking you now. Vote. Please, please vote and vote yes. Vote yes for the people you love and have yet to love. For the decency you would like to expect of your neighbour towards you. For love. For the very fact that it's the right thing to do.

I'm fairly certain most of my readers agree with me here and don't need telling to vote yes but I just want to remind you how important it is. Prioritise it. Don't forget or get too lazy. You will regret this in twenty years if you don't. This is a defining moment in our history - be part of it.

To those outside Ireland or who can't vote, I only hope that this passes and you get the right impression of my beloved homeland.

If there is any one thing in this world worth fighting for, it's love.


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