There has been much pontificating through-out this referendum from groups on both sides of the debate, and like many others I too am getting tired of endorsements coming out on both sides. Celebrities, companies, politicians & parties all making lots of noise, some opportunistically and some sincerely. Feelings have been hurt and friendships have ended. Our differences are what make us all special, but in times of passion are what lead us to divide. When the smoke settles let us all forgive and, live and let live.
I hope people can condone me for the following 1,095 words while I as a person some may know and many will never have heard of, explain not why I feel others should vote Yes, but why I am going to vote Yes.
It wasn't too long ago that I asked the question, as I'm sure many of you have "Why does it have to be called marriage? Why not settle for the same rights and privileges but call it civil partnership or something else, after-all gay couples are different, right?"
I was 19 when I asked myself that question. I feel foolish looking back on that now but life was simpler only a short few years ago and like with all things time has passed and I have grown up. I have grown up and now realise that it's not about what it (civil marriage/civil partnership) is called. It is about who gets to call it what and why, and that is a very different matter.
The "No" side are doing all they can to make the debate about something other than marriage equality. They have brought children into the argument in a sick attempt to use the "won't somebody please just think of the children argument" to justify their so called "sincerely held believes." The thing they miss however is that this referendum is only about extending marriage to gay couples, and has nothing to do with adoption, surrogacy or children whatsoever (anyone who says it does is lying), and as an adult child of divorce I can tell you I am highly insulted by the rhetoric employed by some on the no side. So I am not even going to cater to that particular brand of misinformation in this piece. In fact I am not going to talk about anything else the No side have said, instead I will explain why I would vote Yes.
Let us just look at the facts. Right now if two homosexual people wish to get married to one another because they are in love they cannot. Why? Because they are different? They can have a civil partnership, but not marriage. If two heterosexual people chose to commit to one another for life they can have a marriage, or a civil partnership. They have the freedom to chose. This folks, is the definition of inequality.
The the Declaration of Independence which was read from the steps of the GPO during the 1916 rising contains the following article;
"The Irish republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past. "
Read that quote again... It is one of the single greatest pieces of writing ever read by a revolutionary. It does, without condition, declare ALL people's of the nation equal and free. There is no caveat that says "except from those who differ by way of sexual orientation, yeah, they're not equal."
Our ancestors died so we could be free and equal, and right now there are thousands of LGBT citizens, both young and old, who are by the very definition of marriage as it is perceived by some, not equal and certainly not free to chose. Whether I am comfortable about the idea of two men or two women getting married is completely irrelevant, one persons biases should not affect the freedoms of another.
We all know society has changed in the last hundred years. At every stage during that 100 years progressive social policies that have been inclusive rather than exclusive in the fullness of time have proven to be good for the people and the country as a whole.
Despite being in favour of a Yes Vote since news of this referendum broke, and advocating for a Yes Vote in social media, I had not intended on being vocal in the mainstream media. I was advised by some that it would hurt any future political aspirations I may have, after all this (Roscommon-East Galway) is the most conservative constituency in Ireland so they tell me but I have more faith in people than the pundits do, however I am ashamed to say I almost listened to them. I almost became like every other vote grabbing highest bidder bidding politician I know, with exception to some.
Like many other young men, I hope that one day I will be a father. If this referendum was lost, and marriage equality was not granted to all, and I found myself in 30 or 40 years trying to explain to my child that I had an opportunity to make this country a fairer more equal place and I did nothing, I am quietly confident I would regret it more than anything else in life.
And if my child happened to not be heterosexual, well I would not be able to look them in the eye without feeling an over-whelming guilt that my idleness meant they had to live in a country where they are not considered equal to their heterosexual peers and that is why I am voting YES in the Marriage Equality referendum on May 22nd.
I believe that voting in referendum such as this is a very personal decision, and I would not ask anyone to vote one way or the other simply because I feel it is the right thing to do, but I would implore people to think about the ramifications of how they vote and what exactly they are being asked to vote on:
‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’
Imagine it was your son or your daughter, your brother or your sister, your aunt or your uncle, your neighbour or your colleague, or maybe just a friend who was relying on you to make the decision on May 22nd.
No matter how the referendum goes it may not affect you or I directly, but to the person who it does affect it could mean everything. It means they are equal, it means we all are equal. You don't have to campaign for a yes or a no vote, but if you look deep inside yourself turn to that person you know who needs your support, you will see that there is a righteous way to vote on May 22nd.
To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence-
We are all Irishmen & Irishwomen, let us now, almost 100 years from that day in Dublin that shaped the course of Irish history, at long last say- we cherish all the children of our nation equally, oblivious of our differences.
Emmett Corcoran | Roscommon | Galway | Westmeath | Leitrim | Longford
"If you're willing to keep moving forward, eventually you will succeed."
All opinions and views expressed are my own, they do not necessarily reflect the positions of my businesses.
One reader asked why I monitor my comments and why they must be approved, and just for the rest of you it's not for censorship, it's because of Spam-bots. I'll publish all comments posted by real people :)