Ireland has a referendum tomorrow – all Irish citizens can vote on whether or not they think it is right for gay people to marry. Both the ‘Yes’ and the ‘No’ campaigns have been working hard and to be honest, I’ve a feeling it is going to be extremely close.
The reason there has to be a referendum is because the constitution has to be changed – it is not something that the government can pass. It is down to the people to decide.
Why is it important it is passed?
- Marriage is wonderful. Brian and I will be married 23 years in August. I’m 46 in July, that means I’ll have been married for half my life which is scary. I mean, surely one of us should have had a midlife crisis by now and headed off with half the farm or something. Maybe we’re just too old and settled at this stage, maybe we don’t have the time to look elswhere (!) or maybe we’re still in love. We decided to get married after an argument – I know, not the best basis for spending the rest of your life together. When we got married, it felt different, that piece of paper wasn’t tying me down though, it made our relationship feel special. Friends and family had joined with us to celebrate our wedding and although I was never going to use ‘Mrs’ if I could help it, it felt good to be married. Why can’t everyone experience that?
- Too many rural people have left farms and villages to head for the anonymity of cities or abroad – simply because they are gay and don’t wish to face the disapproval or worse. This referendum is about more than marriage, it’s about showing that the country accepts everyone – no matter what their sexuality is. If the ‘no’ vote wins, it’s basically saying that being gay is wrong. We’re almost back to the days when Oscar Wilde was imprisoned.
- The ‘no’ campaigners are arguing that children will suffer, that children will be ‘damaged’ if adopted by same sex couples or are born from a surrogate. Well, the ‘Yes’ or ‘no’ win won’t change that as single people can adopt (okay, very few children are being adopted at the moment but it is possible). What about the children who wonder if they are gay and fear being ridiculed or worse? I explained homosexuality to my children when they were about 8 and 10, I wanted them to see it as normal, that sometimes men love women and sometimes men love men etc. When Kate was 9 and we were watching David Norris being interviewed after that Iona debacle, she was wondering what on earth was going on and became most indignant when I explained. I loved her reponse – ‘how would those hetero, hetero people like it if people called them names, they need to go back to school to learn manners’. Hear hear.
- It’s down to equality. Just as my son and daughter will have equal opportunities in education, whether they inherit the farm, I also want them to have equality whether it turns out that they love someone of the same sex or the opposite sex.
- More weddings – I think it’s somewhat amusing that the Church wants to see more people getting married rather than ‘living in sin’ and yet there’s all these couples who want to join in matrimony and many priests / clergy are telling parishioners to vote No.
If the ‘No’ vote wins, I really despair. It’s bad enough that women don’t have full say over their own bodies in this country but that’s another day’s work. For now, as a heterosexual happily married parent of two children, I will be voting Yes.
Farming is a tough profession, it’s isolating and if you sneeze loudly, everyone knows! If a person’s sexuality is what is keeping them single and lonely, that is just too sad. Humans seem to crave companionship and love, that’s why all those dating sites are so busy. If a person can’t celebrate their loving relationships, there’s something very wrong in our society when we can’t celebreate love and happiness. Here’s to more farm husbands and farm wives!