Gay Marriage Referendum

Same Sex Marriage Referendum Ireland 2015

Daniel Pim


On the 22nd of May this year Ireland will vote in a referendum to legalise same sex marriage. This has been a hotly debated subject over the last few months with both the Yes and No sides trying to promote their own views. This piece will try and give a brief overview of the arguments and comments that both sides are presenting to the public before the decision goes to vote later on in the month.

Many Irish celebrities have come out and expressed their support for the Yes campaign. Actor, Colin Farrell has said the following about the vote in GCN magazine, an LGBT magazine, “This referendum is a chance for us to arise. To wake up yo the conviction that true love from the heart of one being to another cares not for the colour, nor the creed, nor the gender of who it chooses to share that path with.” Irish music superstar Hozier was featured in the same magazine expressing similar views to Farrell, “The more I consider the difficulty and frustration any LGBT community member might face living in a society that ‘others’ on an institutional level, the more I consider this referendum not just an opportunity to correct an injustice, but an opportunity to offer a long overdue gesture of solidarity and acceptance to fellow brothers and sisters on a national level.” Other Irish Stars like Niall Breslin, Glen Hansard and Brian O’Driscoll has also expressed their support for the Yes vote.

Eamonn McGee, a long time serving member of the Donegal football GAA panel is also quoted in GCN. “If I ever have a child and he or she turns out be be gay, they could say to me ‘you had a chance to make a difference in that vote’. I don’t know would I be more ashamed that I didn’t vote or the fact that I voted against it. it comes down to equality and one less difference in society.” McGee was in the news earlier on this month when he was vilified by a local Donegal priest for his Yes vote stance, telling the congregation that McGee was wrong to support the cause. This style of sermon angered some of the parishioners for criticizing McGee, leading them to walk out on the service.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the country’s second most senior bishop has declared that he’ll be voting No on May 22nd. The Archbishop, who rarely announces his decision to vote said the following, “A pluralist society can be creative in finding ways in which people of same-sex orientation have their rights and their loving and caring relationships recognised and cherished in a culture of difference, while respecting the uniqueness of the male-female relationship.” He added that, “I know that the harshness with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past – and in some cases still today – may make it hard for LGBT people to accept that I am sincere in what I am proposing.” Archbishop Martin did go on to say that his views were not the same as saying, “that people in differing marital and other relationships cannot be good parents,“much less to deny that they even deserve the title parents.”

The No campaign suffered a setback recently when a couple used in one of their promotional posters expressed their disastifaction with their image being used. “We completely support same-sex marriage, and we believe that same-sex couples’ should of course be able to adopt, as we believe that they are equally able to provide children with much-needed love and care. To suggest otherwise is offensive to us, and to many others,” was their comments about the subject in a statement released through Amnesty International



Ireland’s leading economist, David McWilliams has looked at a different side of the referendum,  he wonders what a Yes vote could do for a actually do for the country’s economy. He writes, “recent Us research reveals that a leading indicator of wealth of a city or region is a strong and open gay scene. The reason is very simple: there is, and has always been, a strong correlation between tolerance and wealth.” McWilliams argues that cities with a high blue-collar population are much more open to competition from third world countries to steal their trade. This has a knock on effect with more and more jobs being lost out of a region, the more introspective the region becomes. This eventually leads the creative classes of the region to flee to more attractive places where the arts and cafe society are thriving.

 Billy Hannigan writes in his opinion piece for GCN how even if a Yes vote is passed, LGBT people will still be fighting inequality. He explains how the Civil Partnership Act 2010 ensures serving and future public servants the offer to give pensions to their partners (husband or wife). Hannigan points out that for retired public servants who were faced with this before 1984, the offer was essentially meaningless as gay people couldn’t marry in 1984, there by not allowing them equal rights as their other co-workers. He goes on to criticize today’s government stating how, “for presenting itself as an upholder of equal rights for the LGBT community should at the same time be denying a fundamental right, the right to a pension to LGBT people, on the basis of a meaningless offer made to them over 30 years ago.” He goes onto explain the situation by saying how, “the situation could be remedied with a stroke of a pen, because there is no legal barrier to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform , Brendan Howlin doing so.” Hannigan stresses that even if a Yes vote should pass later this month, the LGBT community shouldn’t get carried away with itself. Thinking that it will solve all their problems and give equality to everyone.

 Ireland’s first openly gay politician, Leo Varadkar has been quoted recently saying how a No vote would send a message to gay people that they’re no equal citizens under the law. He continued by saying how, it would be incredibly unfortunate for the vote not to pass, commenting that it would be a “backwards” step for the country. He then went on to talk a little bit about himself and the feedback that he’s experienced since he came out earlier on this year. Explaining how he had letters from people offering to “save his soul” since he announced his homosexuality.

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