This morning marked the official launch of the nation's Yes Equality campaign for the upcoming Marriage Referendum. There were some wonderfully uplifting talks and some very powerful statements made. A few points stuck out to me:
The "No" campaign will try to make this about family values, as they've done for decades. It's the only card they have left to play in this debate and we will see them continue to double-down on their nastiness. Just last week, David Quinn of the Iona Institute made a series of heartless comments about Newstalk presenter Dil Wickremasinghe who is 6 months pregnant with her first child via IVF. And this morning the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran made comments suggesting that just because LGBT people have children, that does not make them parents. When we talk to our friends, family, and neighbours, we need to make very clear that WE are the Family Values campaign, not them.
There's only €60,000 for the WHOLE national Yes Equality campaign! LGBT and other human rights groups have come together under the one banner of YES EQUALITY for the final few months of the campaign, but €60k is nowhere near enough money to run a proper campaign. Let's put that into perspective - 1 full page colour ad in the Irish Times costs €34,000. That's over half the budget. So we need companies to donate money and services. I'm looking at you printers, designers, Google, and Apple!
This is the People's referendum, and we're the ones who will win it. Everyone needs to join in on this. Get involved with your local Yes Equality campaign. They'll need volunteers to do leaflet drops, organise rallies, or simply wear t-shirts and stickers whilst talking to friends and family. Who doesn't love stickers?! You can find your local Yes Equality chapter on the map on yesequality.ie. If you don't see one in your area, why not start your own? Email any of the chapters listed and they will help get you started.
Last night I attended the #ShareTheLove launch in Gorey. I have to say, I was more than a little worried, as when I left Dublin, only 12 people had RSVP'd on Facebook and being held in the small function room of a pub. I was so surprised and heartened when more than 50 people of all age groups turned up to show support and sign up to volunteer. Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman gave a beautiful speech about how fairness is something that is so important to the Irish people. It resonates with us, because we've been through so much over the years. We are in this together and we have the opportunity to create a fair and just Ireland where everyone is equal and no one is less.
Please donate your time. Donate your skills and talents. Talk to EVERYONE you know. But most of all, please get out and vote on May 22.