If Ireland votes YES the Irish constitution will change by the insertion of a new subsection 4 to article 41 stating “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.
Ireland was one of the last western democracies to decriminalise consensual sexual activity between gay men and retained British “gross indecency” laws even after independence in 1922 so one can see how far attitudes have changed since then and how important the marriage equality referendum has become.
Throughout the campaign polls have put the YES vote firmly in poll position averaging about 70% but the latest Irish Times poll has put the YES campaign at 58%, NO at 25% and the undecided vote at 17%.
This is too close for me to call and with Ireland’s tempestuous history at referenda only the good gay lord knows how things will unfold when the results spill in on Saturday.
Spearheading the opposition to marriage equality is a group called the Iona Institute, a think tank that promotes traditional marriage and religion.
Their campaign has been littered with inaccurate and misleading information pushing the “think of the children” angle and posters declaring that “a child deserves a mother and a father.”
The simple message around the YES campaign is that loving; committed relationships between two consenting adults should be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Same sex couples should be allowed to share the same responsibilities, obligations and respect that marriage provides.
Even though civil partnership was introduced into Ireland in 2010 there are over 160 statutory differences between civil partnership and civil marriage.
Some of these 160 differences include 1. Not permitting children to have a legally recognised relationship with their parents – only the biological one, 2.defines the home of civil partners as a “shared home”, rather than a “family home” , as is the case for married couples.
Ireland is known worldwide for it’s strong sense of tradition and culture but let’s not allow tradition to be an excuse for not making change where it is needed.
This referendum is simply about equality for all. Inclusivity for all Irish citizens, which is a basic human right.
Neither man nor woman should be anymore equal than anyone else and if they think they should be therein lies the problem.
My hope for Friday is that the Irish people will vote in good conscience for tolerance, inclusivity and equality for all.