I am not one for writing opinion pieces, and I am have been so nervous to post this piece just because it is so out of my comfort zone, but this is an issue that I deem very important. I have actually been editing this piece for about two weeks, I keep coming back to it and trying to make it perfect. It is really far from perfect, but if I keep editing it, it will never get published, so fuck it. Here is my imperfect, totally biased argument on why Ireland needs to have a YES result on our marriage equality referendum.
The time has finally come where the Irish public can vote in favour of marriage equality. This has been a long time coming, and overdue, but I am delighted to have to opportunity to vote in favour of equality in Ireland.
I don’t know if my ramblings will change anyone’s opinion, or decision on which way they will vote next month, but I wanted to voice my opinion and why I think it is so unbelievably important that we get a YES vote in May.
I didn’t come to the decision that I wanted to vote yes, it was more like an internal compass of right and wrong which decided for me. Call it intuition, but that internal guide that helps you make gut decisions, and mine tells me that it is wrong that people in Ireland (and the rest of the world) are not 100% equal. Any sort of inequality is wrong, and it just doesn’t sit well with me. It is not something I can explain clearly, but we all have this internal guide, the one that makes you feel uncomfortable when you see an injustice, and for me, any kind of inequality is an injustice.
I was really surprised to find a couple of people in my life who are quite happy to say that they will be voting NO on May 22nd. I always imagine people who will vote no are of another generation/ of another time, so I genuinely thought a friend of mine was winding me up when they said that if they vote, they will vote no. I am not neutral on the issue, and I can’t help but be judgemental when someone tells me that they will be voting no. To me, it’s like sticking your hand up and saying “I am a rascist”or “I am a sexist”, obviously I know it is not the same thing exactly, BUT it is judging someone on something that is beyond their control.
Below are a couple of the arguments I have heard from people who will be voting no in May.
‘It’s not natural’….
- Modern Medicine
A short and sweet list of unnatural things. We are discussing love and relationships, not photosynthesis.
Love is natural. How is love not acceptable when it is between two people of the same gender? Loving feelings are the most natural thing in the world. You may be attracted to someone physically, but you fall in love with someone’s soul, their heart and their spirit.
If you give me the whole ‘Adam and Eve’ story, I am going to tell you that a story is not relevant in 2015. If you want to look to religion to help guide you to live a more meaningful and loving life, that is great. But religion should not be used as a weapon to empower one group of people, and take away from another. This is not a religious debate, it is an equality issue.
People choose to be gay: Okay if you genuinely believe that it is a choice, then prove it. Choose to be gay and report back. I am not gay, but I know I didn’t choose to be straight, I just am.
‘But what about the kids‘… if we are talking about an adoption, then a child who is in need has the opportunity to be a part of a happy and loving family. If you also think that the children may not grow up to be rounded people as they were only raised by one sex, then we have a serious problem, because there are so many single parents out there raising children without a partner of the opposite sex…. UGHHHHH!
*extra points when someone brings up: “The kids will get bullied in school”… that’s a bullying problem. When you have kids will they be going to school thinking it’s ok to bully someone for having same sex parents, single parents, grand parents for parents, adoptive parents? Don’t raise bullies and there won’t be a bullying problem. Explain to kids that some people come from homes that are different to theirs, but that is ok. Kids don’t judge, but they learn through example.
I have heard some other stupid arguments that I just can’t even type out just because they defy logic and are born out of ignorance.
I think the Irish attitude to sex and sexuality is changing and growing, but there are still many issues we need to overcome. Women are judged quite a lot on their sexual activity, words like slut are thrown around, and they really stick! The judgement on homosexuals seems to be so much worse, for so little! Friends of mine have been confronted and abused for holding hands with their partners in public, because they are a same-sex couple. I hold hands with Conor all the time and I have never had anything said to me about it. I can’t imagine how judged same-sex couples must feel, for doing something as innocent as hand holding. I know that attitudes are not going to change overnight, but a Yes result will take us one step closer.
One final note I would like to make is that as the Irish are, we are a pretty easy-going nation. So many people I have talked to about voting on the 22nd have said they will vote for equality, but when I ask, “will you go out of your way to cast that vote?” The reaction has been mixed. I honestly believe that those who intent on voting NO on May 22nd, will get up and have their voices heard. They will vote against equality, while many of the Yes voters may have a more relaxed attitude. If you are voting YES on May 22nd, please actually Vote, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. This will be a great day for Ireland, and it means our future generations will grow up in a world with less prejudice and judgement.
Love is love and equality enriches us all.