It wasn’t until 1993 that homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland. Yet yesterday, this country that once was a virtual strong hold of Catholic rule became the first country in the world to have a national referendum on gay marriage – and it appears to have won by a l-a-n-d-s-l-i-d-e.
It the 18 countries that have legalized gay marriage, it has been done by their legislatures. This is one of the main procedural arguments used by those against marriage equality: That these decisions have been made by activist lawmakers and courts – not by the people. That argument is now moot: the Irish people have spoken loud and clear.
Timing is everything. One of the clouds over marriage equality and the SCOTUS judges has been whether their June ruling can be a definitive decision of the constitutional legality of gay marriage in the US – or a set off a penultimate ideological quagmire ala Roe V Wade. To see that the citizens of a country more religious than ours decisively chose this for themselves sends a clear, impactful message. We will soon know if that message makes it across the pond.
Well done, Ireland, and thank you!
This tweet today from Ireland’s Equality Minister Aodhan O Riordain sets the tone:
Ireland hasn't just said "Yes"… Ireland has said: "F❤️CK YEAAHHHH"
— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD (@AodhanORiordain) May 23, 2015
All voting must be on Irish Soil – Ireland offers no absentee ballots. The success of #HomeToVote, not just by its adoption but as world-wide call to action with a tangible result, may permanently silence the naysayers of hash tag activism:
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) May 22, 2015
While #MarRef for ‘marriage referendum’ has become a showcase of unbridled Irish Pride and Joy
— Annie West (@anniewestdotcom) May 23, 2015
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 23, 2015
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) May 23, 2015
Instrumental in the success of the ‘Yes’ campaign was the activism of Rory O’Neill; better known as Panti Bliss, the Irish Ru Paul. Appearing as himself on the January 11th, 2014 episode of The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O’Connor, O’Neill called out the Anti-Gay think tank the Iona Institute and two local columnists on their national television RTE Network as homophobes. A full media dust-up ensued resulting tangibly in a €85,000 ($93,610) fine to the broadcaster and a snap shot of how sometimes painful each inch of social change can be.
Three weeks later, on February 1, 2014, Panti Bliss took to the stage of the Dublin Theatre and gave an impassioned 10 minute speech to “set the record straight,” going instantly viral, garnering international headlines, and undoubtedly enlightening many who previously been too closed off to fully embody our reality.
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) February 4, 2014
Brava Indeed. Thank you Panti. Thank you Ireland. Happy Memorial Day