Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: 68 Days Out

Another week, another SSM link dump with some comments. Still a bit away from the campaign beginning properly, but you can tell, with the volume of op-eds and other news stories about the topics starting to increase, that we aren’t all that far away really.

In the Indo, Gene Kerrigan talks about change in Ireland’s culture in regards things like same-sex marriage. It’s one of presumably many pieces working to torpedo the assumed image of the “rightness” of a mother/father parent pairing, when the history of just this state alone shows that such a pairing is far from a guarantee of success when it comes to child raising. The same people today who decry the idea of SSM were the same people shaming single mother decades ago, and the same people insisting that homosexuality should be treated as a crime. This campaign should be one of their last hurrah’s before we consign them to the dustbin of our past forever.

In the same paper, a somewhat distracting news piece on a GAA ref who was forbidden from wearing a rainbow wristband by the association. I actually dislike stories like these, which I view as cheap clickbait outrage pieces, designed to stoke up anger in the selected audience and then be forgotten just as quickly as they appeared. The GAA has no basis for taking a side in what is a political issue – and it is, by virtue of now being put to a popular vote. It strikes me as somewhat childish for David Gough to try and claim that he was not making a political statement here. What would his reaction be if other referee’s wore wristbands expressing opposition to SSM?

Similar to that in terms of outrage stoking, but much more pertinent, was Bishop Kevin Doran’s moronic comments on gay parents. Or rather, as he sees it, how gay people “are not parents”, because they are gay. More superior figures in the church rapidly tried to do some damage control, and you do get the sense that they realise that less is more in terms of their interaction in this debate. The Church has, perhaps, never been in such a position of unpopularity, disillusionment and irrelevancy to the Irish landscape than it finds itself in today, and that will only get worse if they go on the offensive.

Case in point: the sight of mass goers walking out of a Donegal service after a priest decided to turn a service, partly being done as an anniversary for a local, into a platform to criticise both SSM, and a local GAA player who supports it. People walking out of mass over such statements is telling about how public perception of both SSM and the Church has changed recently. The loss of the Church as a key factor in peoples voting patterns might be one of those important things that gets the “Yes” side over the line. Of course, you’re still going to get self-defeating stuff like this.

And this too. Somebody should probably point out to these people that nobody will be forcing the Church to perform same-sex marriages if the referendum passes. But they probably won’t care, as their entire movement is predicated on having a superior status to others, something fatally undermined by the passing of this vote. But hey, keep quoting the Bible at people. There are plenty of passages we can throw back. I’m probably going to just give up linking these op-eds from Church figures eventually, because they all say generally the same thing (“natural”, “family” “safety of children”, “conscience” etc) and are all as easily refuted as the others.

Over on the Irish Times, a member of that Church is taking a different viewpoint, and espousing a surprisingly progressive view of separation of church and state. Father O’Donovan correctly points out that no vote is a simple “right/wrong” choice, and that even the most religious have a duty to approach such votes without the dogma of Catholic teaching dominating the entirety of their thinking – and that Catholic teaching insists upon respect for fellow-citizens with conflicting views (hint: telling “Yes” voters that SSM is “unnatural” is not respectful).

In terms of actually getting out there and winning the referendum, it’s good to see various “Yes” groups come together and form a larger whole for that fight, in the form of “Yes Equality”. Combining resources and having singularity of message is important when it comes to changing minds and getting people out to vote. I hope that, in the days ahead, it can effect a response and a buffer to the “No” groups that will try and undermine the debate through misinformation and scare tactics.

If Fine Gael are serious about getting SSM passed, then they will have to utilise Leo Varadker to the hilt. As much as I dislike his actions in government (for a variety of reasons) and worry that his coming out might have more than a whiff of political ploy to it, I can’t deny that he’s attractive to voters, a good speaker and the just the right face to put on FG’s campaign. The speech, linked above, that he gave this week on the topic is a good example of the kind of rhetoric he (and others) can employ. I hope the government gets wise to the resource they have at their disposal.

A few smaller stories to link around as well. The Irish wording of the vote has changed, in order to avoid any future legal uncertainty about the legality of marriage altogether. This is just simple precaution stuff – even more important this week after the drug law debacle – but we should be mindful of the “No” side using it as a weapon of some kind. The Irish Times letter page has some decent entries from people on a few of the op-ed’s they’ve posted recently (well, some of them anyway).  The Irish Examiner has a short report on the mental benefits a “Yes” vote could have for the LGBT community. And the outgoing President of Young Fine Gael gave a good speech recently on his own experience with being gay in Ireland, coming out and why the upcoming vote is so important.

Coming up to that two month mark soon. If you’re not registered to vote or need to change your voting area, you still have plenty of time.

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