Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: 12 Days Out

As it becomes increasingly difficult to separate the noise from the more useful stuff, I’ve decided to try and keep these posts, this close to the referendum, a bit more stream-lined, and to try and avoid linking or discussing pieces that are on the topic of something that has already been linked or discussed here, elsewhere or everywhere ad nauseum. I’m also going to cut down on the amount of attention I give to the “No” side, because that’s practically counter-productive at this point.

Poll numbers are important right now. Plenty are decrying them after the way they seemed to mistake the result of the British general election, but you have to remember that the antiquated FPTP system there can easily make a mockery of any poll, as a few percentage points can create or take away hundreds of seats. In a referendum, with a straight “Yes/No” choice, they are far more useful.

So, here’s Claire Byrne’s second poll, and while I still have reservations about the sample size, it’s still very encouraging. “Yes” remains in the high seventies, and turnout intention is also very high. As is depressingly predictable, a big gap exists between the young who support “Yes” and the young who intend to vote (94% “Yes”, 20% not planning on voting). But that’s OK, because “Yes” is actually winning every demographic, even the over 55’s, 65% of which are planning to assent to SSM. If that demographic actually votes “Yes”, this vote is signed, sealed, delivered. Also of interest is the tiny amount – less than 10% – whose minds have been changed on the topic over the last seven days. Most people have made up their minds on this vote.

And just as importantly, is the numbers that indicate that both sides have been equally successful in changing minds, which is a death knell for “No” if it holds true on polling day. They’re banking on being the only side capable of winning votes from the base choices people have made, whittling down that “Yes” majority. But, by these numbers, they are failing to do that. And so, if the turnout is good enough on polling day – and I am beginning to believe more and more that it will be, from the level of support and engagement the “Yes” side is getting – then SSM will become constitutional law.

But, there will be more polls done by other research companies, and they will be spun as a closing of the gap regardless of the actual facts, because our media delights in closer contests.

Daragh McManus, over on the Indo, has a review of radio contributions to the debate, and he is delightfully skewering of the “No” side, both for the paucity of their arguments – how exactly do you debate with someone whose opening is “God doesn’t want it”? – and the manner in which they are trying to subvert the process of debate. You never really think too much about radio in days of TV and social media, but it is still an important medium for many, and is no exception to the poor quality of debate that has been allowed to take over. I’m haven’t watched a single SSM debate during this campaign – why would I, when I made up my mind on this topic ages ago – but I’m not surprised to see the cynical responses to the inevitable frustration, as “No” obfuscates and deflects, and “Yes” tries to not seem too aggressive, lest they give credence to the “Attacking free speech” lie.

The Journal went to Ireland’s (by census data) most Catholic county to get some thoughts. Aside from being somewhat surprised to learn they were the most Catholic county, the denizens of South Tipperary are, from the report, fairly even on the topic, with maybe a few more “Yes” responses noted alongside many wavering “No” voices (including, somewhat hilariously, the guy who seems to think we should just give CP all of the associated rights of marriage…why not just call it marriage then?). You would think a place like South Tipp would be a “No” stronghold, but I don’t think that will be the case. It isn’t Donegal, and this country has changed more than we think.

A testimonial on the Irish Times, from a gay man who felt that he could not be himself in this country, when there were other possibilities. The experience recounted here is annoyingly typical: a person who felt “confused”, pushed into traditional relationships by a society that deemed being gay abnormal, and unable to go on in that vein. He had to actually leave this country in order to be who he wanted to be, and that’s incredibly sad. “No” campaigners will claim that people like David Hoctor don’t need SSM to be themselves, but they’re missing the point: our society deems Hoctor less of a person than others because our laws relegate his sexual orientation to a lower point on the scale. And that’s wrong.

In fact, we can go with that and simply proclaim “Yes” as what it is: the right thing to do. Over in Connacht, a priest, worried that his planned “Yes” vote will be seem more as a swipe at the leadership of the church, is unequivocal: giving gay people the right to get married is the right thing to do. And I like that as a slogan, and I don’t think it’s said enough. This is a matter of conscience after all. This is a matter of doing something to raise our fellow citizens up for a position of constitutional relegation, and that is the right thing to do.

I was struck by this short report on the comments of Alan Shatter. He’s hardly the poster boy for the campaign, not being too popular at the moment, but I appreciated his sheer bluntness when confronting some of the “No” side tactics. Simple enunciation of the facts: that gay couples have been adopting for years, and that this has nothing to do with the referendum anyway. That all this talk of preferable fertile families is hugely insulting to the wide swath of non-traditional ones. And that, he has the firm belief that the Irish people will vote “Yes”. It’s good to see somebody from the government actually have something positive to say on that score. There’s been too much worry and nerves showing.

I mean, it is obvious that a large proportion of Irish society are behind a “Yes” vote. That just needs to get translated into actual votes, and the effort to do that has been strong in my eyes, even in the face of some surprising problems, some of which Kathy Sheridan outlines here. Young people who don’t understand how exactly registering and voting actually works, disillusionment going hand in hand with “Yes” and that ever present fear that the young people of Ireland, always the first to campaign, protest, and complain, won’t actually turn up in numbers. I do think that we will get an improvement in youth turnout this time round – I’m not expecting very high numbers, but enough – but I will invariably be annoyed by the passive “Yes” supporter, willing to come up with any old excuse not to actually cast a vote. The one given here, that there is a perception that the government doesn’t care about youth views, is especially galling, because if that were actually true, one of the reasons is because young people don’t vote enough.

I link to this otherwise boilerplate piece on Leo Varadker campaigning for a “Yes” vote in order to pick up on a point he made. There has been so, so much talk, to the extent that it is almost a zombie-like drone, about the “silent No”. Well, what about the “silent Yes”? Why aren’t we talking about them, the people who, perhaps older, perhaps from a more religious background, perhaps surrounded by more “No” voices than “Yes”, are saying nothing or saying they will vote “No”, but who will actually tick the “Yes” box on May 22nd? Those people exist too, just as sure as there is the “silent No”. And they may be enough to account for the “silent No”.

Over on the Huffington Post, a nice reality check is elaborated upon: how the idea that a child has a “right” to a mother and father is bogus. No one has the right to either a mother or a father. Tell me in which legal document it says otherwise. The “No” side is careful sometimes on this issue – those moronic posters say “deserve” instead of “has a right to” for example – but you see the R word dropped here and there and everywhere. And it’s nonsense. People have, or should, have the right – the legal right, enshrined in our highest legal document – to marry whoever they want. Children, born today to mothers, fathers, mothers and fathers, mothers and mothers, fathers and fathers, do not have legal rights to be raised by the female and male gender. Of course they don’t, because how would we provide them that in a modern society of single parents, widowed parents and, however unpalatable to the “No” side that it is, same-sex parents who are already adopting and raising children and will continue to do so regardless of a “No” vote?

No. I’ll tell you want kids deserve: to be raised by loving parents, or a loving parent. They don’t have a right to that – as the sight of Ireland’s orphanage’s and foster system will show – but it is what they deserve. And that “deserve” should come with no distinction to sex or sexual orientation. The “No” side, even if it doesn’t like to say it out loud, doesn’t trust homosexuals with children. I do, and you should too.

To end on a lighter note, here’s an amusing Youtube video on how to successfully campaign for a “No” vote, even if you have to use every dirty trick in the book.

Not long now guys. I’ll be back with more on SSM on Monday, till then I again make the plea for you “Yes” supporters out there to make the commitment to go out and vote on May 22nd, the most important thing you can ever do for this fight.

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