I wrote this the day of the referendum:
Today’s the big referendum in Ireland! There are two things being voted on: 1) whether to reduce the required age for candidacy for the office of president from 35 to 21; and 2) add the following text to Article 41 of the Constitution:
“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
It was only in 1993 that homosexuality was decriminalized. The fact that this is being voted on, and that all the parties are supporting it, is a sign of how much influence the Catholic Church has lost in the last few decades. (The separation between church and state in Ireland is complicated. Even now 90% of primary schools are Catholic.)
The organizations lined up against it are Mothers and Fathers Matter, who argue that marriage is about procreation and the rights for children to have a mother and a father; the Iona Institute, who are fighting the increasing secularization of Ireland; and (of course) the Church.
I can’t say much about MFM, all I know about them is that they started putting up signs a month ago. Amusingly, the family on the “Children Deserve a Mother and a Father” billboard was taken from a stock photo, and were appalled to discover they were the face of Vote No.
The Iona Institute first popped up on my radar when they successfully sued RTE when local drag queen Panti Bliss called them bigots on air. This led to her famous speech at the Abbey Theatre last year. I think they’re trying to promote an extremely conservative version of Catholicism. The parody twitter account is great.
As for the Church, some priests have actually spoken up in favour of marriage equality. There was a pastoral letter urging people to vote no, which led some people to walk out during the homily. We won’t really know how much influence the Church still has until the results are in.
I’m optimistic, but I’m in the Dublin bubble. Recent polls suggest it’ll pass, ‘tho support is falling. When the ban on divorce was repealed in 1995, the polls suggested 70% support; it ultimately passed with 50.28% of the vote.
That might be why Irish from around the world are converging on Ireland to vote.
Wish us* luck!
(* Disclaimer: I’m not actually Irish and can’t vote, but I’m here, and I really want this to pass. YARRRRRR!)
And it passed! In the end, the only county that voted against was County Roscommon. I can’t hold it against them, I thought it was going to be much closer than it was.
(OK, this last one is not related, yet somehow so appropriate.)