Thursday, 30 April 2015

This is a fundamental right...


Here's the thing. I'm a straight female Irish person, why should I raise my voice when it comes to the Marriage Equality referendum?

And honestly, I wasn't going to. Sure, I changed my profile and cover photos on Facebook, but I never intended to write about it. As much as I care about it, there are people far more eloquent and passionate who speak so well on the matter. They have their own very powerful stories to tell.

But I've seen too much negativity about the upcoming referendum on my Facebook newsfeed to ignore it.

Here's the main anti-marriage argument that I've been seeing. It's not 'protect the poor children', it's religion. People who call themselves 'Christians' are loudly stating that 'The Gays Ruin Marriage', 'This is redefining our definition of families', 'What about straight rights?', 'God doesn't like this'.

And I feel sick. Because here's the thing - that attitude is the least Christian thing you could possibly come up with.

Isn't real Christianity about loving and respecting everyone? Isn't it about loving thy neighbour? Isn't it about treating everyone as Jesus treated the prostitute? The leper? Isn't it about defending the rights of the minorities, even if you don't agree with their life choices?

My God loves everyone regardless of their sexuality. 
To me, God is all-loving, all-accepting, all-forgiving. If your 'god' isn't these things he is not worth worshiping.


It's religious leaders who seem to have the biggest issue with following the Christian doctrine. In this day and age I can confirm religious teachers actually do use the phrase 'God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve'. This is what they are indoctrinating children with - a hatred towards people who don't fit their standard of what is acceptable.

Just because you can't understand why someone
would like someone of the same sex,
doesn't mean it's wrong.
And my own Church (which I can no longer claim as my own after this) has come out to say 'Vote No.' A religious group that were treated as second class citizens and persecuted as a minority under the Penal Laws only two centuries ago wants us to now treat others as second class citizens.
Their argument however is weak, pointing to families and children which this marriage referendum isn't impacting:
"In recognising the rights of all people within a democracy, we must include the rights of children, and the natural responsibilities of a father and a mother in their nurture. We believe the change proposed in the referendum denies these rights."
The 'natural responsibilities' of a father and mother? So are we against surrogacy and adoption now too? Are we against lone parents? Children won't be impacted by your vote because same-sex couples are already allowed to adopt and foster. The Children's Rights Alliance, the ISPCC and Barnardos who all passionately defend the rights of children are all calling for a yes vote.


Dustin Lance Black was in my old University this year, where as a gay rights activist he took the opportunity to call for a Yes Vote in the Referendum.
He described Marriage Equality as a basic human right, and it is bigger than any one belief system:

“This is a fundamental right that is bigger than any one belief system, bigger than any one religion. It is a fundamental right of being a human being able to marry the person that you love.”
The majority of people in Ireland, like myself, are privileged. Not by wealth. But by being born white, straight men or women. We have rights. We are not a minority. We can marry the people we love.

Us privileged people can't even begin to imagine what it's really like to be in a minority.

To not be able to hold hands with your partner without fear of being abused verbally and physically.

To not be able to publicly admit your sexuality in your workplace for fear of discrimination.

To fear saying your next of kin is your same-sex partner. 

I can't even imagine being treated to a sub-human standard like that. It's something that comes from a lived experience, and I'm lucky. I haven't lived it. But thousands of people in Ireland have.

For the vast majority of us, this referendum will have no effect. I mean, sure I'll be delighted to live in such an accepting and non-traditional country. I will be able to attend the weddings of some of my closest friends. But my day-to-day life will not be impacted in the slightest.

I will still be able to marry my future partner if I choose to. But who am I to deny that right to another?



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