As babies of the internet revolution, we are more than familiar with how quickly the world moves. Notifications plague your existence and you’re tagged somewhere before you even arrive. Ireland has seen more progression in the past decade than ever before; Irish mammies are jumping out of planes and dads are using predictive text. What a time to be alive.
Oh, but two people of the same sex still can’t get married. It’s hard to even comprehend that a mere twenty years ago, male homosexuality was still a criminal act. Why were we so willing to introduce a Divorce Act but not encourage one that supports the solidification of a loving relationship? Ireland is like a bitter old cat lady that despises new love in all its forms.
Rory O’Neill is a formidable advocate for same-sex equality, as he accurately pinpoints the ingrained shame that is attached to gay status in modern Ireland. His alter ego Panti Bliss is a household name at this stage, but many conservative pops will still balk at the idea of such femininity in a male body. And perhaps the problem is that the gay scene is, for some, synonymous with go-go dancing drag queens swinging on a nightclub podium. We don’t see real women and men; we see butch lesbians and the only gay in the village. We still haven’t normalised it as the simple everyday love between two people.
Yes, you can argue that we have come a long way, but when RTÉ has to pay €85,000 in damages to support people preaching homophobic ideals, then we are still living in the Dark Ages. Catholic bodies are concerned that same-sex inclusion will devalue the institution of marriage, but in a world where people can marry houses, landmarks and even themselves, you have to question the validity of this argument. This is however, by no means an attack on religion; I merely wish to suggest that if you choose to take one sentence from the Bible as literally as possible, then you also ought to rule out tattoos, ripped jeans, polyester and ham. That’s right, Ireland; a hang sangwidge is as abhorrent as gay love.
Last month, an Irish Times poll showed that 67% of the population was in favour of gay marriage. Good, right? Not if you compare it to the figure of 75% in 2013. We cannot assume that someone else will vote for us. Students of Ireland; I urge you to procrastinate. Ditch the assignment and register before November 25th in order to be eligible to vote by spring 2015.
We need to dispel our fear of the unknown; full marriage rights have been available to English citizens since last March and the country doesn’t seem to have imploded yet. Furthermore, with suicide rates at an all-time high, we need to seriously consider the effect our nation’s conservatism has on young minds.
The Civil Partnership Act was a huge step forward, but it was a band aid for a knife wound. You can’t offer a consolation prize for equality. Vote Yes!