I posted on Sunday after the Constitutional Convention that it will be more than likely Autumn 2014 before we see any referendum vote on Same Sex Marriage. There will be many steps on the road to winning this referendum, but we have start at the basics. And now is the perfect time to start!
Register to Vote!
From my experience, young people and members of the LGBT people are not that great at registering to vote and actually voting. But this will be the first key step in ensuring that we can win a referendum on same sex marriage.
While there will be a vote on lowering the voting age to 16 before this referendum, depending on the Governments response to the Convention report on lowering the voting age, it is still hugely important that people are on the Register of Electors
The Register of Electors is done up once a year and while you can always register for the Supplementary Register before the referendum this can be quite rushed as you must have the forms filled in two weeks before the referendum date.
Ok so you have done all that! Excellent! Now get used to voting. Make sure you cast your vote at every election and referendum and get used to the idea of visiting the polling station so you know how it all works and of course how long it takes so you can factor it in on the day of the vote!
Also remember that by voting for people who support Same Sex Marriage in the Local and European Elections will also help push it along! It is a good bit away but no harm in starting now!
But Who Can Vote?
When it comes to referendums and Presidential elections in Ireland, only Irish Citizens can vote.
British Citizens may vote and Dáil, Local and European Elections.
European Union Citizens may vote at Local and European Elections.
Non-EU Citizens can only vote in Local Elections.
I’m sure many college based LGBT Groups will be running Register to Vote Campaigns when the Colleges go back this Autumn, but it is just as important for non-college based groups whether they be youth groups, sports groups or dining groups that they urge their members to register to vote and vote!
Today’s vote at the Convention on the Constitution was an amazing step on the road to Same Sex Marriage in Ireland. The overwhelming support from the convention to changing the Constitution is certainly something to bolster those campaigning for Same Sex Marriage. A huge well done to GLEN, MarriagEquality and the ICCL on their presentations and everyone that took part in the panel discussions in favour of Same Sex Marriage.
The details of the vote and results are as follows:
The Convention decided to recommend that the Constitution be changed to allow for civil marriage for same-sex couples by:
Yes – 79%
No – 19%
No opinion – 1%
The members of the Convention were also asked what form the amendment should take. Delegates were given the option of voting that the amendment be:
permissive (‘the State may enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’);
directive (‘the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’);
On this matter the Convention decided:
Permissive – 17%
Directive – 78%
No opinion – 1%
A final question asked delegates if they agreed, disagreed or had no opinion that ‘having regard to the changed arrangements in relation to marriage, the State shall enact laws incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children’.On this question the Convention decided:
“the Government will provide in the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Convention within four months and, if accepting the recommendation, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for the holding of any related referendum”
So that means we will find out in about 6 months when the referendum will be held. We then have to allow for the Local and European Elections in May 2014, meaning that unless the referendum is held at the same time (could be an idea to raise turnout) it probably will be held in the Autumn of 2014. This could be a very long campaign, just like the Scottish Referendum Campaign!!
This of course raises many issues. How will TV and Radio cover it?
During the week Una Mullally raise some very valid points on this.
The main problem with how the Irish media frames the debate is around a skewed view of what ‘balance’ is. ‘Middle Ireland’, the ‘silent majority’, the ‘mainstream’, gay people are told, are not ready for something so drastic as equality. I don’t know about you, but I never actually hear that middle ground. What I hear again and again is yet another articulate gay person trying to hold their temper while they are subjected to ignorant and juvenile arguments. And I hear an opposing view, generally one from the far out end of Catholicism, blustering about children’s rights (which Civil Partnership denies, thank you very much), and trying desperately to fight against equality with arguments based on their own personal belief systems or grievances. I don’t hear middle Ireland. I don’t hear a middle ground. I don’t hear the mainstream. I don’t hear the 71% of Irish people who believe the Irish government should amend the law to provide civil marriages for same-sex couples, or the 75% who said they would vote yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, or the 72% who believe that denying civil marriage to same-sex couples is a form of discrimination*. I don’t hear the voices of teenagers and grannies who think “I don’t mind, actually.” All I hear is hate.
Constructing polarised conversations for the sake of ‘good radio’, ‘watchable TV’, ‘lively debate’, or an urge to get a radio programme or TV show’s hashtag trending doesn’t serve anyone because no real information emerges. All you come away with is conflict and division. Facts and reason are drowned out by emotional arguments and inaccuracies. It’s pointless. And while listening to Pat Kenny’s radio programme yesterday morning where the editor of GCN, Brian Finnegan, was met with bizarre anti-equality arguments from Gerry Fahey, a sickening feeling resurfaced. Because there is something more insidiously harmful going on. Broadcasters will cite ‘balance’ as a defense for allowing these views to be broadcast. But I’m sorry, there is nothing balanced about someone going on air and voicing opinions that are hateful and discriminatory. The pro-marriage equality side doesn’t do that, yet the anti side seems to have a free pass to bang on about whatever paper thin argument, conspiracy theory, or downright homophobic view they want. I am OVER it.
With polling showing that 72% of people are in favour of allowing Same Sex Marriage in Ireland any major campaign on this must take heed of what happened in the Children’s Rights Referendum last year. Polling there also showed that over 70% were in favour of that, but in the end it passed with a 58% yes vote on a 33% turnout, which is much lower then how the polling predicted it with go.
Any campaign will not only have to win the argument (which today shows it certainly can), but will have to make sure that it can get the vote out and of course make sure that young people (and members of the LGBT community), who are the largest group that back this change, are registered to vote!