A note on the Marriage Equality Referendum
Referendum wording: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex'.
I wrote this originally as a note on Facebook - if you like it, and think the people you know would too, share it: https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-morris/a-note-on-the-marriage-equality-referendum/772755926106851?pnref=story - Paddy
Talk to everyone you know and talk about this referendum as simply allowing anyone who is in love to get the benefits of Civil Marriage and to be treated equally as citizens of our state.
The opponents of this will be well organised, well funded and will try to have discussions about the issue framed they way they want. They already have their talking points ready. Get organised, talk to people and do the same - frame the discussion properly, and stick to simple talking points. Repeat, repeat, repeat and be patient. Text radio shows, ring in, comment on forums, write letters to newspapers and do whatever else you need to do.
Talk to Friends, family and colleagues.
Are you registered to vote? www.checktheregister.ie
Some important points:
- This referendum does not have any purpose other than to extend civil marriage rights to all citizens.
- If you believe all our citizens should be treated equally and allowed love whomever makes them happy, and every couple who wants to should be allowed get married, vote yes.
- Any professional talking head or journalist talking about any other issue in the context of the Marriage Equality Referendum (like adoption, for instance) on radio, TV or print is either misinformed, disingenuous, a liar, homophobic, or some combination of all 4.
- However, the ordinary public and people you know personally may be misinformed (see point above). Politely correct anyone who frames the Marriage Equality Referendum as about adoption. Don't question their motives or say they are homophobic. You are simply correcting a factually incorrect statement. The Marriage Equality referendum is ONLY about extending the benefits of marriage to all couples equally regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
- Allowing any two people who are in a loving and committed long-term relationship to have the legal protections that marriage gives will have a positive impact on their children, if they happen to have any. KIds and their parents shouldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or sexuality. All families, including those families with same-sex parents that currently exist, should be allowed the legal protections of civil marriage.
- If anyone does insist on asking about adoption or guardianship these are the facts: In any decision concerning adoption, the "best interests of the child" are the key factor. The Adoption Act 2010 states this clearly, repeatedly. The new Children and Family Relationships Bill will reaffirm this shortly. The Marriage Equality Referendum will not and can not change this. Ignore anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. The gender or sexuality of the couple adopting is largely irrelevant - what is in the best interest of the child is the basis for all decisions.
- When it comes to adoption, only married opposite-sex couples, or single people, can currently adopt, but the Children and Family Relationships Bill, which the Government intends to enact before the referendum, will provide for adoption for same-sex couples. This is a separate law from the Marriage Equality referendum - which again is ONLY about extending the benefits of marriage to all couples equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
- Every single vote counts. Divorce only passed by 9,112 votes in 1998, less than 0.6% of the electorate. It passed by a large margin in Dublin which tends to be a bit more liberal. Apparently it rained down the west where there were more No voters, but the rain kept turnout there low enough that the Dublin majority was enough for it to pass nationally. Also, older people who tend to be more conservative tend to vote in higher numbers than young people who tend to be more liberal - so get out and vote and encourage all your friends to do the same. Drive them to the poll if they need a lift.
- ‘Marriage is being redefined’ - this is not necessarily a bad thing, marriage used to be only between two people of the same race or religion, or primarily a property transaction with a woman transferred between two men, often with a bribe (‘dowry’) paid to sweeten the deal. Yes, Marriage is being redefined ... it’s called ‘progress’.
- The church will oppose this. Why should the church be allowed impose its definition of marriage on Civil society? Civil society will not be forcing the church to change its definition of marriage, they are welcome to believe whatever they want. We will respect their views and not force any religion to change their beliefs or definition of marriage, but we will stand up for what we believe and change Civil societies laws to help us become a more equal society. Or as someone once said 'do unto others... love thy neighbour'. No church or other religious institution will be required to perform a ceremony for a same sex couple.
- It's also key to remember that some or even most people who vote no or don’t vote at all may not be in any way prejudiced but just think it's easiest to keep things the way the are, especially if the debate is confusing or based on fear. Attacking them personally or calling them bigots would be seriously counterproductive. Ask them nicely to vote Yes and explain why this matters to you and the people you care about.
- Equality is better for all, but it never comes easy. The only way to get your rights is to stand up for your's - and everyone else's.