There are only a few things that I want to say today.
The turnout was huge and the margin of victory was overwhelming. The electorate of Ireland was not duped by a disgraceful campaign of lies, fear, scaremongering and misinformation carried out by the “No” side, who bleated constantly about a “silent No” that never appeared. There is no comeback no solace for “No”. They were roundly and totally rejected, and any excuse they come up with now is as empty as the “congratulations” some of them dared to utter. Instead, “Yes” was embraced. “Yes” to love. “Yes” to equality. “Yes” to a new way of things.
This is first and foremost a massive, overwhelming victory for the LGBT community in Ireland. This is their moment, more than anyone else’s. The people of Ireland have said, in a voice made up of literal millions, that they no longer see homosexuality as something to be hidden or condemned. It is a victory for equality supporters generally of course, but we can never fail to recognise that on Friday it was an historically harassed and maltreated minority that won the day, taking a higher place on the pedestal of rights in a free and democratic society.
In a larger sense, it is a victory for everyone. That includes every single “No” voter, whatever their reasons for voting “No”. We are all of us now part of a more tolerant, inclusive nation. The common good has increased over the past few days. In time, the illogical fears that drove so much of the “No” campaign will fade, as the world keeps turning even when two men or two women tie the knot. The “Yes” campaign was driven by love, positivity and faith in our fellow man, and that should continue. Marriage has not been redefined, but maybe “normal” has a bit.
And it is a victory for the world too. Ireland becomes the first nation to declare SSM legal in a popular vote. Others will soon follow, and what an example they now have to follow. In our lifetimes, I am confident that we will see the work continued to a culminating point, when homosexuality is no longer anything to be feared or discriminated against on this continent, and the plenty won’t be far behind.
There are many messages of thanks and appreciation to give out. To the canvassers who knocked on so many doors throughout the course of the campaign. To those who maintained a total dominance of the social media sphere. To those who organised and implemented registration drives. And to the multitude of commentators, LGBT or otherwise, who shared their views and experiences, refusing to be browbeaten by a belligerent and disrespectful “No” campaign, that hid its homophobia as well as it could, but could never make it disappear completely.
In the United States, when a Presidential election has finished and the losing candidate comes out for the concession speech, their supporters usually buoy their flagging morale with resolute slogans, slogans that I think the movement that won this vote should now adopt. “We’re not done”. There are more battles to be fought in the future.
Blasphemy. Women in the constitution. True separation of Church and state. The acceptance of LGBT people in the workplace. Surrogacy laws, when they are relevant. Political reform. Even abortion. They are all more debates that must be had, and more battles to be fought against an older, and increasingly irrelevant Ireland. Modern Ireland, progressive Ireland, gay Ireland is here now, something that can be seen in every “Yes” vote that was slipped into a ballot box on Friday. Thank you for those votes. We’re not done.
We’re not done.