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Ireland votes for marriage equality

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 07:12:21 AM EST

It looks like Ireland has voted to include a specific provision to legalize same sex marriage in its constitution in the first vote of its kind in the world. Early tallies indicate that the YES side is likely to win in what appears to have been with a very high turn-out election.

The referendum was part of a sequence of referendums on social and moral issues over the past few decades in Ireland's own version of the culture wars which have been fought in many parts of the world. The amendment to the constitution was opposed by the usual suspects in the Catholic Church and assorted right wing pressure groups who sought to turn the vote into a vote on surrogacy and children's rights which were in no way effected by the Amendment itself.

The YES side had feared that a low turnout might enable the NO campaign to win the vote because of the greater propensity of older and more traditional people to vote.  However, in what appears to have been an unprecedented mobilization of younger, more secular, and more liberal voters a high turnout now looks the likely outcome. Thousands, including members of my own family, flew home from abroad so that they could vote. (Irish Embassies do not make provision for Irish voters to vote when abroad).

The outcome, if confirmed, could result in a seismic change in Irish politics.  Some NO campaigners made no secret of their opposition to the measure because they feared that it might lead to an overturn of the 1983 Referendum which outlawed abortion in Ireland.

I will update this story as more vote counts came in.  In the meantime, please feel free to use the comments to discuss the issue. For a list of Referendums to change the Irish Constitution, see here.

[Update] Final Result:
YES: 1,201,647 (62.1%)
No: 734,300 (37.9%)
Margin 24.2%
Turnout 60.5%

This is the highest turnout in a Referendum since the 1996 Referendum which removed the constitutional ban on Divorce from the Constitution by a margin of less than 0.6%. Only one of Ireland's 43 constituencies (Roscommon-South Leitrim) voted no by a margin of 49 to 51%.


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Early tallies indicate a 70:30 YES vote in Dublin with much tighter margins in rural constituencies, with one rural constituency, Roscommon/Leitrim possibly voting NO by a narrow margin.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 07:55:15 AM EST
With 13 of the 43 constituencies having completed their counts, the yes side are leading 62:38.   However with most Dublin constituencies still to complete, the final margin could extend to 65:35.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 11:26:22 AM EST
I edited the diary title for a more appropriate tone.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 12:31:07 PM EST
It's a quote from our Minister for Equality.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 12:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Much more freely thrown around in Ireland than elsewhere. If Joe Biden said this, he would be gone by sundown.

Again congrats to Ireland and the Yes campaign. So well done, both.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson

by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 12:47:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This whole episode has vividly recalled a little walking tour of the west of Ireland when I was 19. I wandered into Galway on the weekend of the big races, in a pouring rain, and couldn't find a room so pitched a tent in an empty place. It turned out to be a firing range, as I was informed by a gang of 8-10 year old thugs the next morning. They immediately adopted the feeble-minded stranger and showed him a more appropriate place to camp, as well as where to find free food, etc. I subsidized them in a small way until realizing they were spending it all on under the counter porn and cigarettes.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 01:18:00 PM EST
YES:  1,201,647 (62.1%)
No:   734,300 (37.9%)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 01:57:21 PM EST

Full text:

Hello. My name is Panti and for the benefit of the visually impaired or the incredibly naïve, I am a drag queen, a performer, and an accidental and occasional gay rights activist.

And as you may have already gathered, I am also painfully middle-class. My father was a country vet, I went to a nice school, and afterwards to that most middle-class of institutions - art college. And although this may surprise some of you, I have always managed to find gainful employment in my chosen field - gender discombobulation.

So the grinding, abject poverty so powerfully displayed in tonight's performance is something I can thankfully say I have no experience of.

But oppression is something I can relate to. Oh, I'm not comparing my experience to Dublin workers of 1913, but I do know what it feels like to be put in your place.

Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car drives by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window and they shout "Fag!" and throw a milk carton at you?

Now it doesn't really hurt. It's just a wet carton and anyway they're right - I am a fag. But it feels oppressive.

When it really does hurt, is afterwards. Afterwards I wonder and worry and obsess over what was it about me, what was it they saw in me? What was it that gave me away? And I hate myself for wondering that. It feels oppressive and the next time I'm at a pedestrian crossing I check myself to see what is it about me that "gives the gay away" and I check myself to make sure I'm not doing it this time.

Have any of you ever come home in the evening and turned on the television and there is a panel of people - nice people, respectable people, smart people, the kind of people who make good neighbourly neighbours and write for newspapers. And they are having a reasoned debate about you. About what kind of a person you are, about whether you are capable of being a good parent, about whether you want to destroy marriage, about whether you are safe around children, about whether God herself thinks you are an abomination, about whether in fact you are "intrinsically disordered". And even the nice TV presenter lady who you feel like you know thinks it's perfectly ok that they are all having this reasonable debate about who you are and what rights you "deserve".

And that feels oppressive.

Have you ever been on a crowded train with your gay friend and a small part of you is cringing because he is being SO gay and you find yourself trying to compensate by butching up or nudging the conversation onto "straighter" territory? This is you who have spent 35 years trying to be the best gay possible and yet still a small part of you is embarrassed by his gayness.

And I hate myself for that. And that feels oppressive. And when I'm standing at the pedestrian lights I am checking myself.

Have you ever gone into your favourite neighbourhood café with the paper that you buy every day, and you open it up and inside is a 500-word opinion written by a nice middle-class woman, the kind of woman who probably gives to charity, the kind of woman that you would be happy to leave your children with. And she is arguing so reasonably about whether you should be treated less than everybody else, arguing that you should be given fewer rights than everybody else. And when the woman at the next table gets up and excuses herself to squeeze by you with a smile you wonder, "Does she think that about me too?"

And that feels oppressive. And you go outside and you stand at the pedestrian crossing and you check yourself and I hate myself for that.

Have you ever turned on the computer and seen videos of people just like you in far away countries, and countries not far away at all, being beaten and imprisoned and tortured and murdered because they are just like you?

And that feels oppressive.

Three weeks ago I was on the television and I said that I believed that people who actively campaign for gay people to be treated less or differently are, in my gay opinion, homophobic. Some people, people who actively campaign for gay people to be treated less under the law took great exception at this characterisation and threatened legal action against me and RTÉ. RTÉ, in its wisdom, decided incredibly quickly to hand over a huge sum of money to make it go away. I haven't been so lucky.

And for the last three weeks I have been lectured by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who should be allowed identify it. Straight people - ministers, senators, lawyers, journalists - have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and what I am allowed to feel oppressed by. People who have never experienced homophobia in their lives, people who have never checked themselves at a pedestrian crossing, have told me that unless I am being thrown in prison or herded onto a cattle train, then it is not homophobia.

And that feels oppressive.

So now Irish gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by our betters.

And for the last three weeks I have been denounced from the floor of parliament to newspaper columns to the seething morass of internet commentary for "hate speech" because I dared to use the word "homophobia". And a jumped-up queer like me should know that the word "homophobia" is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia - homophobes are.

But I want to say that it is not true. I don't hate you.

I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you are probably homophobes. But I'm a homophobe. It would be incredible if we weren't. To grow up in a society that is overwhelmingly homophobic and to escape unscathed would be miraculous. So I don't hate you because you are homophobic. I actually admire you. I admire you because most of you are only a bit homophobic. Which all things considered is pretty good going.

But I do sometimes hate myself. I hate myself because I f*cking check myself while standing at pedestrian crossings. And sometimes I hate you for doing that to me.

But not right now. Right now, I like you all very much for giving me a few moments of your time. And I thank you for it.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 02:48:30 PM EST
Frank, what a present Ireland gave the world today.

Imagine, from one of the worst, chafing under FUD, religious intolerance. patriarchy. ignorance (fear, uncertainty, doubt) it jumped boldly and bravely from the last millenia into a better future.  Despite the poobahs imploring, screaming, praying and crying that terrifying consequences ensue. From the No's, & back.

Their god sent them a message which everyone heard today:

"You folk already have everything YOU want, and why should you pray to me to punish your fellow humans additionally? That is NOT your job, and you have now not only recklessly usurped my prerogative but totally failed at it. Request denied."

by Pete Rock on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 03:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hilarious: some of the teabaggers are predicting that god will strike Ireland with a new potato famine in retribution. Unlike Ireland, they still live in the 1840's.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 03:19:38 PM EST
We got literal double rainbows over Dublin today, so I don't think their God is sending the message they think!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 04:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You give them too much credit.  The Talibaggers live in the 1340s.
by rifek on Thu May 28th, 2015 at 07:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A second and much less debated referendum on reducing the minimum age for a Presidential candidate from 35 to 21 has been roundly defeated - by a margin of 73 to 27%. So whatever else the marriage referendum may have been, it was not an uncritical endorsement of Government policy, or indeed an endorsement of an unpopular Government itself. Indeed a by-election in Carlow Kilkenny for a seat vacated by Irish European Commissioner, Phil Hogan, looks likely to be a close call between Fine Gael (major government party) and Fianna Fail, the much discredited opposition party held responsible for the bank guarantee and economic crash.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 04:28:03 PM EST
... if both Fine Dum and Fine Dee could be sent packing.

But that is a discussion for another day ... today is for celebrating a good win.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 08:49:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wasn't it 24.2%, not 14.2?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 07:57:13 AM EST
Yes of course - now corrected in text.  I used to be so good at maths!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 09:22:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fintan O'Toole: Ireland has left `tolerance' far behind

We've made it clear to the world that there is a new normal -- that "ordinary" is a big, capacious word that embraces and rejoices in the natural diversity of humanity. LGBT people are now a fully acknowledged part of the wonderful ordinariness of Irish life.

It looks like a victory for tolerance. But it's actually an end to mere toleration.

Tolerance is what "we" extend, in our gracious goodness, to "them". It's about saying "You do your own thing over there and we won't bother you so long as you don't bother us".

The resounding Yes is a statement that Ireland has left tolerance far behind. It's saying that there's no "them" anymore. LGBT people are us -- our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends. We were given the chance to say that. We were asked to replace tolerance with the equality of citizenship. And we took it in both arms and hugged it close.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 09:28:11 AM EST
Fintan O'Toole: Ireland has left `tolerance' far behind

Finally, it looks like a defeat for religious conservatives. But nobody has been defeated. Nobody has been diminished. Irish people comprehensively rejected the notion that our republic is a zero sum game, that what is given to one must be taken from another. Everybody gains from equality -- even those who didn't think they wanted it. Over time, those who are in a minority on this issue will come to appreciate the value of living in a pluralist democracy in which minorities are respected.

By pushing forward on what only recently seemed a marginal issue, the LGBT community has given all of Irish democracy one of its greatest days. It has given our battered republic a new sense of engagement, a new confidence, an expanded sense of possibility.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 09:34:19 AM EST
One last dive into the American reaction, but it's a keeper: Landslide win for same-sex marriage in Ireland Buckle up!

To the very end, opponents of same-sex marriage in Ireland held out hope. Yesterday they were reporting high numbers of immigrant Africans and Muslims standing in line at polling stations and hoped they would balance out the hordes of young people who were expected to make Ireland the first country in the world to vote for same-sex marriage.

If only there were more immigrant Africans and Muslims, the hordes of native born Irish could be beaten back at the polling booth! This is the first time I've seen the right pin its hopes on those groups.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson

by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 04:28:04 PM EST
How does he know how they voted? Maybe they were for gay marriage (in which case he would probably call them a fifth column, out to destroy Christianity).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 05:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. People rarely emigrate because they are perfectly happy with the situation at home.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 05:27:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about the immigrant muslims they were hoping to "rescue Ireland" from creeping modernity, but from the immigrant africans that I know in the US (bearing in mind that my wife is Congolese, so I may only know a relative handful, but some as more than casual acquaintances), I would not be surprised if they would be a net "No" vote ... but also not surprised if the younger immigrants voted more like their peers than the older ones.

And that margin is important for this kind of issue, since a smaller cohort needs to tilt very strongly to one side in order to deliver an outsized margin.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 07:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My intuition, for what it's worth, is that for a given population to be receptive to the equality argument, it must be at least one generation removed from religious hegemony. When scripture, and its earthly interpreters, are an effective guide to daily behaviour and morals, there is no argument. Literally. (This is, of course, a European perspective, I'm not sure how applicable it is in an American context, given the hegemony of religious observance).

Demographically, immigrants to western European countries are likely to be more religiously observant than their host populations.

In France, the anti-equality movement was spearheaded by the vestigial religious right, but included large numbers of French muslims. It is a sad fact that the resurgence of Muslim religious sentiment and practice in France brings a wave of reactionary attitudes on "social" issues. This is, of course, not something inherent to Islam, but inherent in prescriptive religious practice.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 08:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.

In the US, it is very hard to understand what we mean when we talk about religion. "Observance" is not as high as it must seem in the media and from a distance. It is more a matter of identity. Part of that identity for the rabid right is opposition to marriage equality, "socialism," evolutionary theory, and a long list of other ideas they don't like and don't understand. Very few have even read the book they say is the literal word of god (you'd think that would be high on the bucket list) and are confounded if you quote it to them. Anti-intellectualism runs deep in that community. When they say Obama is "articulate" it is not meant as a compliment. It is shorthand for uppity, bookish.

The rituals, such as they are, function to reinforce the identity.

I have Italian friends who assume that it is the catholic church holding up progress here. But a majority of observant Catholics here actually support marriage equality and are far more progressive in general than the protestant right.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson

by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 10:44:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My impression from American friends, including recent immigrants, is that people tend to seek out a congregation that they are comfortable with, without necessarily following family tradition or cultural heritage. And the result is that a high level of religious observance may well reflect people clubbing together socially by affinity, in a manner which society in general approves of.  From that point, people reinforce each other's beliefs and attitudes, liberal or conservative, rather than being influenced by their minister.

At the other end of the spectrum, the more zealous evangelicals are no doubt better at outreach, gathering up people who feel a need to belong, and brainwash them.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 12:04:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fairness, it must be pointed out that quite a large number of prominent lay Catholics and Priests supported the yes side including the last President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, who has studied in the Vatican and holds a doctorate in Canon Law. She spoke as a mother in support of her gay son who my kids know slightly (Ireland is a small country). The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, was clearly conflicted on the issue, and had to be bullied into line with all the other Bishops by extreme lay catholics in the media and pressure groups... As a result, he has probably lost much respect on both sides...

Pope Francis may wrong-foot them all by changing official dogma if he is not assassinated first... Protestant Clergy were also to be found on both sides, but I suspect more on the YES side. although Northern prods are generally more conservative and evangelical - generally to the embarrassment of their southern brethren.  It will be interesting to see if some or all the Catholic Priests who either came out or supported the YES side (or both) will end up being disciplined.   I suspect not as the Bishops have lost almost all moral authority.

See aso my LTE:
McAleese and church stance on gays

Sir, - Fr Patrick McCafferty (January 15th) states, "The church unequivocally proclaims the message of the Gospel " and goes on to quote twice from Romans in support of his argument concerning homosexuality and church teaching. As he is no doubt aware, Romans is not, in fact, a gospel. Why is it that the opponents of gay rights generally quote St Paul rather than Jesus? Could it be because Jesus never actually condemned homosexuality, and indeed healed the centurion's sick pais (male servant/lover)? - Yours, etc,


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 01:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the irony of this is wholly lost on everyone at Leitphart.
by rifek on Thu May 28th, 2015 at 08:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian
A senior Vatican official has attacked the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland. The referendum that overwhelmingly backed marriage equality last weekend was a "defeat for humanity", he claimed.

"I was deeply saddened by the result," Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, said at a conference in Rome on Tuesday night. "The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 27th, 2015 at 07:45:10 AM EST
Maybe he should have lain down on the train tracks to stop it. Or am I thinking of another pope?

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Wed May 27th, 2015 at 08:42:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're thinking of the one that called the Nazis taking over a "defeat for humanity". Or am I imagining things?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 27th, 2015 at 10:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just trying to think when humanity - or Ireland - has faced a more dire threat than Panti Bliss.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Wed May 27th, 2015 at 12:36:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, gay sex probably seems too much like pederasty to him, and that's supposed to be a special sinecure of the clergy.
by rifek on Thu May 28th, 2015 at 08:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Vatican's outrage was entirely predictable. But what is notable is that this church official placed "humanity" above Christian principles.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 6th, 2015 at 02:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The R.C. Church used to decry "humanism" as a secular and even atheistic doctrine, but now seem to be trying to claim ownership of the term - given its close association with humanitarianism and human rights. it still takes some chutzpah for the RC Church to claim to speak on behalf of humanity, though...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 6th, 2015 at 07:04:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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