Sunday 24 May 2015

Free the Gays

The details may not have been reported in Kiev or Qatar but the Irish people voted YES for an amendment to their Constitution on Friday.  The results were finally delivered at about 1900hrs but the No campaign had conceded defeat many hours earlier, possibly when Sligo-North Leitrim was the first constituency to declare with a 53.57% Yes vote. If people in the depths of the country were coming out [sic] for YES, we knew what the overall result would be.  As it turns out Roscommon-South Leitrim was the only constituency that leaned NO: apparently someone threw in a 'miraculous medal' with their ballot paper and it may have moved enough of the pencilled crosses to another box. The Beloved was out in darkest rural South Carlow almost every evening for the last ten days canvassing with a YES and a Tá button one on each bosom.  All her fellow canvassers had relatives or close friends who were gay [we all do] and that's not the really point but putting a face to the people who might be directly affected has been the biggest factor in pushing people towards Yes=equality.  TB was asked for an extra bumper-sticker by a chap who confessed that it was for his house-mate and they intended to 'avail of the constitutional change'. At another front-door, a father said that his teenage son had come out a few days previously and that he was still reeling.

On the wireless yesterday, the Saturday morning talk show host Marion Finucane devoted her entire programme to the count with a panel of pundits and also fielded a number of phone-ins.  People had travelled enormous distances to be get home to vote. Dublin to Clare; a trainload from London arrived at Dublin Ferryport at 5pm on Friday and were driven home via the polling station; one chap flew back from Australia to Be There on The Day.  But Finucane betrayed herself and the feeling of the occasion by asking these returned ones "d'ye mind my asking, are you gay?".  They responded, not without pride, that indeed they were.  But nobody berated her for being crass - voting YES is not about self-interest it's about community; about doing a little for people who have been given stick for so long. Young people and students from Roscommon-South Leitrim [L above] are in for an unmerciful slaggin' over the next several years. Before you join the baying mob, Donegal-SW only scraaaaped into the Yes bin by 33 votes and more than 1/3 of our neighbours voted Nil/No.

In the evening, after a day of visits and grass-mowing, we buffed ourselves up and went to Carlow for a drink with some of TB's fellow campaigners. I didn't go out doorstepping, I was too busy bloggin' up the vote in Ukraine and France. So many war stories; such feel-good; such bouyancy.  A 101 year old went out to vote in a pride scarf.  60,000 people voted on supplemental registers round the country: they went and got themselves registered to vote on something that they felt really strongly about. The turnout in both relative and absolute terms was the highest it has even been for a referendum.  It has been a great day for the politicisation for the Youth. This includes Dau.II who mobilised all her pals in Cork to get registered to vote for the first time in their lives. Everyone agrees that the youth vote has been key in swinging the pendulum.  But equally it is not only Youth, or only Dublin, or only people with 3rd level education or only the affluent.  The turn out and the margin was effectively the same in Dublin's ghettos as in her leafy suburbs. The map shown above is almost entirely green.

It has been compared to Italia '90, the Summer 25 years ago when the Irish People pulled themselves out of the worst recession of the late 20th century by watching their soccer team claw its way up a few rungs of the ladder during that year's World Cup.  The laughed, they bought rounds of drink, they slapped each other on the back and they felt feckin' mighty about themselves and when they were finally knocked out by home-team Italy on 30th June, they still felt great.  Getting a job was easy after that and the economy started to make sounds that eventually became a roaring Celtic Tiger.  The Marriage Equality is the watershed for this generation.  It's not about marriage, it's not about gays, it is about inclusion, it is about helping the dispossessed, it is about tolerance. It tells the world that Ireland is a good place to live. It will still be unfair being gay in Ireland, it is unfair being a woman, it is unfair being black.  There will still be people who are afraid to come out, and with good reason. But we have collectively made a statement that we will resolve to do and be better.

We have also had a debate, the children hanging off the railings in Dublin castle yesterday evening [Top] have been talking over the issues, they've had to rethink what a family looks like. Not their family that will still be the same, but other families will be different and that is okay. Eileen Gamble blogger at was talking over some of the referendum issues with her class [must have been Civics] last week and one tot piped up "Miss, after we free the gays, who will we help next?"

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