As you probably already know, we will have a referendum in 2015 to decide whether or not we give the same rights and protections to people in same-sex relationships as those in opposite-sex relationships. This will be one of the most important civil rights referenda we will see in our lifetimes, and our LGBT friends, family, and neighbours all depend on us to do the right thing and get off our ass and vote.
The deadline for registering to vote is the 25th of November (1 week away!). If you're not sure if you're registered, you can check the register here. If you are not registered, you will need to fill out this form.
Marriage equality is something that has always been very important to me. I've seen first hand what a lack of full civil equality does to our friends in same sex relationships. We may have civil partnerships, but there are a huge amount of differences between civil partnership and civil marriage. It puts them in legal limbo for everything from pensions to housing to adoption.
(Photo by Ronan Hurley)
These differences inspired me back in 2011 (the first year of legal civil partnerships), to highlight the issue by setting up a fundraising project for the Marriage Equality campaign. I spent a year photographing some of the first civil partnerships and in 2012 held an exhibition in conjunction with Dublin Pride.
Now I don't expect you all to go as far as I did (awesome if you do though), but at the very least I would ask that you please register to vote, and then of course vote. Don't be complacent. Some of you might be too young to remember, but the Divorce referendum back in 1995 was won by just 9,000 votes. Talk to friends and family about why equal marriage is so important. Use real life examples of LGBT friends and family and how this will affect them. People are more likely to support LGBT rights if they know someone who is LGBT.
We have such a wonderful opportunity to turn our backs on the bigotry of the past and say "This is Ireland now. We're inclusive of all loving relationships and families. Deal with it."