A warning. What follows will be rambling, disjointed and emotional.
As I write this it’s half an hour passed ten on May 23rd, the morning after the referendum and since nine o’clock an army of dutiful citizens have been counting votes for the first election of its kind in the history of the world: a popular vote to allow marriage for our gay and lesbian countrymen. We were told we wouldn’t know until around three this afternoon. Turns out they didn’t need that long.
It was a walk. No contest.
Love took on the forces of bigotry, inertia, prejudice and fear and love kicked their asses like Captain America in an elevator.
Dublin went Yes by 75%. The victory was not a surprise, the margin was. But even in the rural areas, the “real” Ireland, it’s been a landslide.
Even Donegal, who usually vote against the rest of the country out of spite because they still don’t have trains, are 55% in favour.
The final tally is still being counted but we’re looking at 2:1 in favour.
I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that, while it’s wonderful that the vote has gone this way, the rights of minorities really should not be decided by popular vote. But here’s the thing, NONE of us have any rights other than what society gives us. And a system where rights are provided by unelected judges or legislators is also a system where those rights can be taken AWAY by those same elites. This referendum has been wonderful because it has brought a debate that elsewhere has been decided in courtrooms and political chambers and brought it to the street, to the doorstep, to every kitchen and living room, pub and church. It was wonderful because the arguments of the NO side were placed in front of the Irish people and revealed as hollow, empty, circular and utterly disengenous.
LGBT Irish men and women and their straight family, friends and allies did not have to sit at home and impotently wait with baited breath hoping that some bill would give them equality. They went out and won it for themselves. They knocked on doors, they sat down with family members, they endured lies and harassment and abuse and they WON. They won because they won the argument. They won because the other side had a ton of money from North American conservatives and literally nothing else. They won because the NO side came out with this:
And we responded with this:
Thank you to the Home to Vote crowd, the hundreds of Irish emigrés who emptied their bank accounts and called in sick to work just so they could come home and be part of history.
Thank you to those young Irish who voted for the first time in this referendum and defied the cynicism and distrust of your elders to vote in record numbers. You are the best of us.
I’ve never felt so proud. What a day. What a day. What a day.