People in the Republic of Ireland vote today in a referendum.
The referendum proposes to add the following to Article 41 of the Irish Constitution:
Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.
Ireland has recognized Civil Partnerships on 1 January 2011 but the wording of the Constitution did not allow for them to be equated with marriage. If the proposal is passed, a marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same status under the Constitution as a marriage between a man and a woman.
If the referendum passes, Ireland will become the first country in the world to approve a national referendum expressly guaranteeing same-sex marriage in its Constitution. That would be quite something. And I must give great credit to the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) for not impeding* and then endorsing the change. He's a conservative Catholic from a conservative area of the country. This is not something that would come naturally to him.
*He could easily have said no when he took office but he referred the question of a Constitutional Convention and, when they said to do this, he agreed.
Opinion polls have shown somewhere between 60% and 70% in favour.
This is exactly the type of issue on which conservative support is often under-counted. Twenty years ago, a referendum to approve divorce squeaked through by 50.3% to 49.7%.
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Here are some good reads supporting a YES vote:
‘I don’t care what they call it, I’m in favour of marriage equality’ by Fr. Gerard Moloney. Yes, a Catholic priest!
My faith tells me that it doesn’t matter if one is able-bodied or bed-ridden, black or white, in Princeton or in prison, gay, straight or in between, God has shaped everyone in God’s own likeness and desires that everyone has the opportunity to live life in all its fullness.
The awesome former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, is in favour not least because of her gay son but this is a cause she has championed since she was President.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, however, is encouraging people to vote 'No' - a position that is entirely, if disappointingly, predictable. To his credit, though, he doesn't take the hellfire-and-brimstone approach and acknowledges that "there are many types of family in our society". It's not a new stance for him. Alone among the Irish hierarchy, he took a strong stand against the coverup of abuse against children.
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Jim Redmond at Towleroad has been covering news and events in Ireland in the lead up to today's vote. There's lots of good stuff and videos - too many for me to mention here.
However, I will include one.
Brendan O' Carroll is famous in Ireland as the Mammy, a character he created first in a serious of excellent books and, more recently, re-created in Mrs Brown's Boys. The TV show is an acquired taste for some. She's rude, crude, but a soft and loving mother at core. She has a gay son, Rory, but it is a running gag in the TV show that Mrs Brown is the only person who doesn't know that Rory is gay. Rory's attempts to tell her invariably get deflected in some hilarious way.
Here's her ad in favour of a YES vote:
"Every generation gets a chance to make a big change"
Today's your day, Ireland. Go for it! Vote YES!