Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: 61 Days Out

Starting off today with something mildly amusing, but also dangerous: Senator Fidelma “Raped on Facebook” Healy Eames claiming that Mothers Day has been criminalised in America, and suggesting that it continuing to be celebrated in a post-SSM Ireland is a questionable prospect. It’s easy to see this, retweet, and laugh. But you also need to be mindful. All the people mocking Eames on Twitter and elsewhere are the ones who are already going to be voting “Yes”. It’s the others, the ones who might think Eames’ misinformation is true, that you have to worry about. In future, it’s better to mix the mockery with some fact checking, and to make that clear.

In more substantive news, Behaviours and Attitudes had a new poll out which, among other things, had a look at the current state of the electorates mood regards gay marriage. While my previous warnings regard polling data at this early stage remain in effect, it’s good to see a general stability in the available numbers: 73% claim they support the amendment, with a strong level of understanding also evident – important for any referendum which can so easily fall prey to “Don’t Know, Vote No” thinking. Additional data backs up the popular perception of voting patterns: “Yes” voters tend to be young, middle class and from urbanised areas, “No” tend to be older, poorer or more rurally based. Long may the indicated trends continue.

Courting the youth vote remains critical, and so it was with some delight that I found out that Dublin City University, a place close to my heart for many reasons, has decided to shift its exam schedule so that its students will have as few excuses as possible when it comes to actually voting. If the “Yes” side can actually get the youth vote out in force, to any reasonable degree, it’s all over bar the shouting.

Over on the Irish Times, frequent commentator Diarmuid Ferriter has his say, correctly pointing out that the Catholic Church’s involvement in the larger debate is bound to be more reserved than usual, out of simple realism for the effect they can have. Ferriter hopes for more involvement, since he thinks it’ll result in more “Yes” voters. I think that’s true, but only up to a point. In Ferriter’s typical style, it takes him a long time to get to the point, so I’ll leave a warning on that piece.

In the same publication, Padraig O’Morain has a brief but fascinating piece on the history of gay society in Ireland, so often repressed and malformed, thanks to a culture that shunned and criminalised homosexuality. It’s good to remind ourselves that we are not so very far away from darker days in this civil rights struggle – being homosexual was illegal when I was born, and I’m only 27 – and that the current vote is only the latest in a long road of victories over the more repressive elements of our society.

A view from abroad next, as an American writer looks at the upcoming vote as St Patrick’s Day, and an interminable conflict over parade make-up in New York and other places begins again. It’s a nice summation of the issues, if you can stomach David Quinn being called upon as the voice of the “No” side constantly.

Even the Socialists are getting involved. They did a fairly lacklustre job in prosecuting the Seanad campaign they nominally supported, and aren’t being very gung-ho this time around either, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. But the uneasiness of actually supporting a government initiative was put aside, albeit briefly, by “RBB” in his well worded attack on the Church’s position. He’s dead right in one respect at the very least: the “No” side would be much more truthful, with all of their carrying on regards adoption and parental rights, if they just came out and stated what they really think. But they won’t, because they know how awful and bigoted it is to say it plainly: “We don’t trust homosexuals with children”.

On RTE this week, popular TV show Don’t Tell The Bride featured its first lesbian couple (having featured a gay male wedding last season). The timing is perfect for giving a frank depiction of how lesbian relationships work. It turns out they are much the same as heterosexuals ones, at least insofar as organising weddings is still difficult, but worth it in the end as a celebration of love and commitment. And they had a kid too! You could practically hear the gnashing of teeth from the Iona Institute. Unfortunately for them, this is one occasion when their bleats of “Balance, balance!” will not be answered.

Blog site 140 characters is usually enough has a nice piece up this week, repeating a fairly scandalous piece of writing from a woman, Mairead Scannell, in a regional Munster newspaper. Her bitterness and vile language are one thing, but I was touched by the unanimity of the responses, which all roundly condemned her. It came out at about 3-1 over her, which is close enough to the current polling trends.

I’d also like to offer a quick response to this piece, not Irish-related, but on the topic of SSM. A woman claims support for gay rights but not SSM, on the basis of her own experience being raised by a lesbian couple after her mother and father divorced. I sympathise somewhat with Ms Barwick’s experience, a divorce is never pleasant for a young child. But she torpedoes her own argument against SSM – which relates entirely around the absence of a father figure it seems – by saying plainly “My dad wasn’t a great guy, and after she left him he didn’t bother coming around anymore.” Sorry, but you’re blaming SSM for the sins of your own father: he left you alone of his own volition it seems, so maybe you should save some blame for him, and not your mother and her partner, who actually raised you into, from what I can tell, a functioning adult. Would she have preferred to have been raised by her mother alone? Would she have preferred that her mother rejected her homosexuality and just stayed with her father in a sham marriage? Would she deny other children the chance of being raised by a loving couple because she has a deadbeat father?

It all comes back to that one statement: “We don’t trust homosexuals with children”. Put like that, the attitude is laid bare for how ugly it really is.

Quick links: A piece on how LGBT groups have finally broken into the St Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, to the disgust of the local church (but not local politicians), the latest whacky “Yes” campaign idea, which while mostly preaching the choir is still good for a laugh, and a little girl’s view on SSM in this modern day and age. From the mouths of babes, etc.

Still plenty of time to register to vote, to change your constituency or to sign up for postal voting. Two months to go.

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One Response to Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: 61 Days Out

  1. Cate says:

    just a small correction – Cardinal Dolan made a statement on St Pat’s Day as he attended the NYC parade – he was glad to see everyone included in the parade. So the “disgust of the local churches” was not all encompassing. The RC Church in the US can see which way the wind blows – they have adopted a considerably more conciliatory tone especially since the Pope’s remarks.

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