“A historic day” – A Look back on a campaign

2015-05-17 11.51.40Its been awhile since I blogged and I only managed one post here during the referendum campaign itself, I felt I was playing a greater role through working with the amazing team in YesEquality Cork and Faith in Marriage Equality.

It was very tough campaign, but the result was phenomenal.

But not only was the result phenomenal, but the volunteers were phenomenal. Having been involved in Referendums and Election Campaigns in the past, I have never felt part of something bigger then me, or been involved in something that would have such a profound impact on me.

Across the campaign I was blown away by the enthusiasm of those involved in the campaign, not only from the LGBT Community but from those who were not going to be directly effected by this vote, but that they were doing it for friends, for family members or because they believed it was the right thing to do.

The Community though were by far the stars for me. It has always been described as a community, but I must say, despite having involved in Cork Pride and other groups, I never felt part of ‘community’. That changed in this campaign. They stood up, went outside their comfort zone and got involved.

2015-05-14 11.08.43At the beginning of this campaign I was worried about this. How do we get those who’s idea of a community was a pub, out campaigning. But I didn’t need to worry. Once the campaign got going they were there. They were helping prepare for canvass’s, they were answering phones, making badges, knocking on doors. The passion, the importance, the integrity, it just blew me away.

Across the country from Donegal to Wexford  people stood up to be counted. They campaigned Monday to Sunday, sun-up to sun-down, and convinced the people on the ground on how important a Yes Vote was.

And it worked. It worked hugely. The Yes Campaign managed to catch the imagination of the electorate and that was evident in the result.

On the campaign, it had some of my best and some of hardest canvasses that I have ever did.  It was often though going on the door, basically asking for my right to Marry, but some nights the reaction was just mind-blowing. Some nights the reaction wasn’t great, being told to “f**k off” or that is what “unnatural”, but the nights I was hugged or rewarded big smiles did make it worth it.

2015-05-18 19.44.42I also had some first’s in the campaign. Publishing my first Election Material, a faith based letter giving out at churches across Cork (Big thank you to YesEquality Cork for this!), and running the tally in Cork City Hall. Of course I was well used to canvassing, I had never led canvass’s before so this was another ‘first’, but one that many in this campaign can share. It was amazing out on the ground with YesEquality Cork which can be seen in all the Selfies from the campaign trail!

The result though was better then anything I ever expected. A 62% yes vote was out of this world and better then I ever expected. As anyone who say me on the day of the results (and the days after) knows how emotional I was and its only now that I was feeling ok enough to write this without crying!

What we did, as a campaign, as a country, was historic. We made many people’s hopes possible. We completed a path, that many before us laid. We can be very proud of what we did, while there are still many equality issues in Ireland to be fixed, this is one less issue.

I know I can’t wait for Cork Pride this year!

Growing Consensus on Gay Marriage?

Coat of arms of Cork
Coat of arms of Cork (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cork City Council last night unanimously passed a motion in support of Gay Marriage. Cork City Council became the first local authority in the Republic to pass a motion in support of Gay Marriage. They follow Belfast City Council who were the first council on the Island to vote in favour of Gay Marriage.

The motion was put forward by the Sinn Fein Councillors, just like in Belfast.

The fact that this was passed unanimously by the council shows that there is much agreement between the parties on this issue. The following parties are represented on Cork City Council:

  • Fine Gael
  • Labour
  • Fianna Fáil
  • Sinn Fein
  • Socialist Party
  • Workers Party
  • and 3 independents Cllrs.

So if these parties agree at a local level on this issue, why isn’t there more agreement at national level?

While there has been welcome announcements in favour of Gay Marriage by Government Ministers including,

  • Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade: Eamonn Gilmore (Lab)
  • Minister for Justice and Equality: Alan Shatter (FG)
  • Minister of State for the Office of Public Works: Brian Hayes (FG)
  • Minister for Transport: Leo Varadkar (FG)
  • Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn (Lab)

With many of opposition TD’s and Senators also in favour of Gay Marriage, why is it being sent to the soon to be established Constitutional Convention?

Why is being fobbed off when there is a growing number in cabinet who support this? When polls show that over 70% of people are in favour of it?

While I support the idea of the Constitutional Convention, which is being passed by the Oireachtas this week, I am not sure what the point in sending this to the Convention where it has the possibility to be lost among all the other issues being thrown in.

This issue should be put before the Oireachtas and then the people  and it would be passed and lot of people would be very happy. And Married.

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The Catholic Church in the UK to be the Vanguard against Gay Marriage?

English: A photo of the Cardinal Keith Michael...
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The Catholic Church in the UK has stepped up its opposition to Gay Marriage being introduced in the UK. Today mass-goers will be urged to oppose any moves towards Gay Marriage in a pastoral letter from Archbishop of Westminster Most Rev Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Southwark Most Rev Peter Smith. They argue that they must save marriage for “Future Generations”. They of course join the hierarchy in opposing this move as Cardinal Keith O’Brien last week compared Gay Marriage to slavery.

Two polls also appeared in the UK this week on this issue. One for the Catholic Voice and one for the Telegraph.

In the poll for Catholic Voice by ComRes 70% of respondents said “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.” This poll seemed to have found opposite results to nearly every opinion on the subject in the UK. Thankfully Pinknews have done some analysis of the poll, which only had four questions, and shows what is wrong with the poll.

To set the record straight a poll in todays Sunday Telegraph has a poll showing 45% of respondents support Gay Marriage in comparison to 36% against. The rest had no firm view.  Excluding those with no firm view 55.6% are in favour and 44.4% against.

Interestingly only the Catholic Church and the Church of England are the only two religions to express their opposition to Gay Marriage while Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal Judaism and just yesterday, Reform Judaism wish to conduct religious same sex marriages.

Also on Monday the Times became the first UK daily paper to back Gay Marriage. It said “It would enrich the institution of marriage, enhance social stability and expand the sum of human happiness. It is a cause that has the firm support of The Times.”

It continues ”

“Opponents accuse the Government of undermining the foundations of marriage and abusing the power of the State. It was predictable that some Conservative backbenchers would deride the proposals as (in the words of one of them) “completely nuts”. But more influential figures are deploying similarly heated rhetoric.

“Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, yesterday branded the Government’s position a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has accused the Government of acting like a dictatorship. More temperately, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, maintains that changing the law to allow gay marriage would force unwanted change on the rest of the nation.”

It finishes with “Earlier ages considered that allowing women to own property was against God and nature. Changing the law abolished a gross injustice and thereby enhanced the legitimacy of marriage. It is time to lift another form of discriminatory treatment. Reforming the law would enrich the lives of same-sex couples who wish to marry in order to affirm by rite that they love and are loved in return. By that commitment, they will enrich the society and culture that their fellow citizens share.”

FG out of step with the political consensus?

History of Fine Gael
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After the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, Fine Gael is now the only political party in Ireland that is opposed to the introduction of Gay Marriage in Ireland. It was interesting to read that Fianna Fail passed motions in favour of both Gay Marriage and Gay Adoption following pressure from Ógra Fianna Fail and others who have been pushing for it for a number of years.

With the Fine Gael Ard Fheis approaching, William Quill blogs that it is the perfect time for Fine Gael to correct this. With Young Fine Gael supporting the issue since their (our) Summer School in 2011 and at this year’s National Conference voted in favour of Gay Adoption.

It would be remiss of Fine Gael at this point to remain opposed to Gay Marriage. As I think a political consensus and with a majority of the public in favour of Gay Marriage, the conditions are right for Fine Gael and Labour to bring this in quite easily and should do so. The start of this will of course will be if Fine Gael pass a motion in favour at its Ard Fheis at the end of this month.

While I am not a proponent of Gay Marriage, I am not as much against it as I used to be. I still believe the state should have nothing to do with the recognition of relationships, but as long as it does it should recognise all relationships between consenting adults.

(Yes William you finally wore me down on this!)

This is a “momentous” piece of Legislation

Marriage by jcoterhals on Flickr
Image by jcoterhals on Flickr

Last night I attended the GLEN briefing on the Civil Partnership Bill, hosted by the Cork Gay Project and L.inc. It was a very interesting meeting and I certainly learned a lot! We were given a 3 booklets on the Bill and I am currently working my way through them and they are fascinating. The speakers were Eoin Collins, Director of Policy Change at Glen and Dr Fergus Ryan, head of Law at DIT.

A few things struck me last night during the talks by the speakers. One of those was what they called this bill. They called it “momentous”, “profound”, “substantive” and “the biggest change to family law”. A few other things that caught me were that we must “accept progress along the way” (that’s directed at you Marriage Activists) and that we need to focus on “whats in the Bill” (I got flashbacks to the Lisbon Campaign when that was said).

We are going to get this bill whether we like it or not. But this bill will do a lot for Gay and Lesbian Couples (or same-sex couples as they are called). The bill will confer rights and obligations that are equivalent to marriage. It will help to equal the playing field between same-sex couples and opposite sex couples, who at the moment, even if unmarried are better protected under Irish Law.

Just a quick note, remember that the Civil Partnership scheme in the Bill only applies to same-sex couples, while the presumptive cohabitation scheme will apply to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

So a quick did you know about the Bill.

Did you know you don’t need to be Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual to enter into a Civil Partnership?Under the bill at it stands the Civil Partnership must be between two people of the same sex and not related (ie: Father and son, or brothers etc)

Did you know you have to take vows under the bill? Under the bill a Civil Partnership Ceremony must take place in public in front of two witnesses and vows must be said.

Did you know Divorce (dissolution) is easier for a Civil Partner? Under the bill to get a dissolution you must be living separatelyfor two out of previous three years. To get a Divorce under marriage you need to living separately for four of the previous five years. There is also no clean break in a Gay Divorce, just like in a Straight Divorce.

There are a few distinctions without a difference between Marriage and Civil Partnerships but legally there is not a whole heap of difference.

But Tax, Social Welfare and Immigration aren’t dealt with in the Bill!

And rightly so. If Tax and Social Welfare were dealt with in this bill it would have to be certified as a money bill. This means the Seanad would have only 21 days to look at the bill and the Dáil can over rule it a lot easier. It is important that the bill is being dealt in the way that is. Provision will be made under the Finance Bill and Social Welfare Bill to make changes.

As for immigration, there is a bill dealing with immigration currently before the Oireachtas. This can easily amended to provide for Same-sex couples.

What is wrong with the Bill?

The bill does have a number of deficiencies. It does not deal with children adequately nor does it deal with citizenship. These can be remedied through the stages of the bill in the Oireachtas and Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik have committed themselves to putting an amendment on Children forward.

What is right with the bill?

The bill will give more rights in the following ares:

  • Shared Home
  • Visitation Rights
  • Succession
  • Maintenance
  • Equality (introduction of Civil Status)
  • Domestic Violence
  • Right to sue for Wrongful Death
  • Pensions
  • Ethics
  • Tenancy

The bill will amend over 130 pieces of legislation. It will allow the law to play a role when people need it most, on illness, separation and death.

This bill is needed now. It would be cruel to dismiss it for something that we might get further down the line. That is the problem we don’t know when, we don’t how, and we think a referendum will be needed. Could you imagine the COIR posters if there was a referendum on Gay Marriage??

This is one of the biggest reforms of family law to be undertaken in Ireland. Hopefully this bill will start a train of reform in Irish Family Law, which is sorely needed!

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Who Represents Me?

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10:  Rainbow fla...
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Yesterday I was invited to become “a fan” of yet another Irish LGBT group. This time it was EQUALS, which is a direct action group.

Everyone seems to think that every LGBT person supports LGBT Noise, EQUALS, Marriage Equality etc, but we don’t.

Firstly lets look at LGBT Noise. They have the T in their for Transgendered yet I never heard them ever calling for a change in the law in relation to Transgendered issues. So they are a single issue group focused on Gay Marriage.

Secondly all these groups are trying to create awareness and create pressure. Pressure only works where their is some political will. In Ireland in the two major parties, there is no will for Gay Marriage. So in this Government and the next, and maybe the one after their will be no chance of Gay Marriage.

To be honest I don’t want Gay Marriage. And I am not alone. I updated my facebook status to the following

People please stop suggesting that I become a fan of EQUALS cause I wont…

A fairly reasonable request in my opinion. The comments showed plenty of people thought I was wrong to think that. An argument about Gay Marriage ensued and what it actually showed to me was how strong headed Gay Marriage Activists are. They will not tolerate dissent from within the “gay ranks”.

This is why the Gay Marriage cause will not succeed. If the cause itself is not willing be broad and accept criticism, and stop comparing this “struggle” with apartheid and religious discrimination they might actually get somewhere and get the backing of those withe the LGB community not so pushed about gay marriage. (Note I left out the T on purpose)

If the campaign cant convince those it has something in common with, how is it to convince those against it?

Chaining yourself to the Dáil, ripping up Bills may get you some attention, but will it change anything? No.

I think the LGB community need to adopt a strategy like the one adopted by GLEN. They think the bill in general is good, but needs improvement. That’s what I think. This bill glaringly leaves out anything to do with children. That needs to be sorted. Some will argue that Gay Marriage will sort that straight away, but its time to smell the bacon and get real, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

So with all these LGBT Groups that are out their that claim to represent me, you don’t. I know I am not alone on this. Friends have agreed with me, both straight and gay that they think that Civil Partnerships is the way to go for now. So why don’t we concentrate on getting the Bill we having coming to the Oireachtas the best one we can, rather then trying to argue for something we won’t get.

So those who want Gay Marriage, please think of us who don’t. You could be loosing an ally. Try to engage rather then argue. Then you might get us onside.

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Marriage is an antiquated, failing institution based on inequality and traditional roles.

Protesters in San Francisco campaign for marri...
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The above title is a quote from Mark Simpsons article on Gay Marriage on Comment is Free in today’s Guardian. In his article “Gay people don’t need marriage” he argues that gay marriage “zealots” have gotten carried away and need to look at what the majority agree with. As he points out Civil Unions which giver nearly the same rights as marriage, for example Civil Partnerships in the UK, have the backing of “liberal and conservative, secular and religious, metropolitan and rural America”.

He calls it “side-stepping this endless, unsightly domestic”. And he is right. LGBT Noise can protest all day long and give the Government red cards, but whats the point if marriage is not the answer, and it certainly isnt. They are wasting their breath and causing unnecessary division within the Gay Community and those that are broadly supportive of the gay community. Its time we brought them onside and campaigned for something achievable

Its nice when you find someone who agrees with you

(Hat Tip: The Irish Left Review)

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Portia De Rossi is sorry for marrying Ellen Degeneres

Found via a Friend on Facebook:

Yes, I know I am against Gay Marriage, but the same argument is being used against Civil Unions/Partnerships, so it still stands up!

LGBT Noise Protest – Register Your Protest

LGBT Noise are holding a protest next Saturday December 6th in Dublin at 13:45pm. The time is a strange one to have a protest isn’t it, why not 13:30 or 14:00 makes it easier to remember. Anyway the protest is from the Dáil to the Civil Registry Office on Grand Canal Street “to stand up for the Civil Institution of Marriage”. This is according to an email I got from their info list.

In the email about the protest LGBT Noise complain about “threats by Cardinal Seán Brady of legal challenges to the recognition of gay and lesbian couples”

This may be news to LGBT Noise but the church, as a legal entity, have the right to bring legal challenges against actions they might see as impinging on the Constitution. Gay activists always amaze me, they are the first to use the courts if they think it will further there cause (KAL Case) but if they see at something that might hold back there cause, its just not cricket.

Secondly they complain about “ideological attacks on gay families on RTE One and RTE Radio One” if they think that shouldn’t they be writing to RTÉ and the papers? A protest on Civil Marriage is not going to change anything about who RTÉ gets on its shows.

They go on to say “gay and lesbian people have a civil right to have their relationships, and their families, protected by the State”. While this is correct to a point the Irish Constitution the supreme law of the land states, in Article 41.1

1° The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.

Also Article 41.3.1 states:

The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

This shows the constitutions places limits on supposed Civil Rights.

A lot of Civil Rights being claimed by LGBT Noise such as:

Civil Marriage is a Civil Right.
Protection for parents is a Civil Right.
Protection for children is a Civil Right.

have not been validated by the Irish Constitution or by the courts. They are presuming that these rights exist. In fact we are waiting for a Children’s Rights Referendum so I am surprised that they have mentioned Protection for Children which is a bit off track in that sense.

In relation to the threat by the church over legal action they say:

It’s time that our government and the religious lobby recognised that church and state should remain separate. The right of gay and lesbian couples to get married in a civil registry office does not in any way interfere with the free practice of religion.

Who said it would interfere with “the free practice of religion”? Not a single person I know would use the argument of free practice of religion against the campaign for Civil Marriage as it wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. I think the fact the Church is threatening to take the State to court shows that there is separation of Church and State in this country, because if it were not the case, the church would not have to take the case against the state.

In the entire email I find myself agreeing with only one part of it and that is one of the lines in the concluding paragraph

pretending that we must only see the arguments in terms of conflict between gay and religious people ignores both the countless gay people of faith, and others in the faith community who support equality for all

Yes, there are many religous folk out there in support of Gay Marriage and Civil Unions and I have been lucky to meet some of them.

Anyway best of luck to those attending the protest, but personally I don’t see the point.

Me and Gay Marriage (Again)

So the Gay Marriage debate continues apace heightened since all the happenings since the passing of Prop 8 in California.

Maman Poulet has two excellent posts on some mistakes been made by groups here in Ireland looking for gay marriage and I have to agree whole heatedly with her. She gives some advice and this should be required reading for LGBT Noise and Marriage Equality activists. On one point that I must stress is that where Maman stresses

Don’t talk about segregation and apartheid – see here. Find your/our own language to use in this situation and stop using the very different experiences of others.

She is correct. A phrase that is far more useful us “Second Class Citizens” and is something that resonates more with people. Its something that people understand more in the context of gay rights.

GayPatriot.net got me thinking of the political make-up of those campaigning for gay marriage, but the one thing they continually over look is a question that is posed over on Gaypatriot.net

With a leadership which well represents its left-wing donor base, how do gay groups reach out to social moderates and conservatives whom we most need to move?

In short, the gay groups need to reach out to people who are least like themselves. They need to communicate with people who speak a different (cultural) language than they do.

That is something LGBT Noise, Marriage Equality and others need to sit down and try to answer. Slogans will get you so far but you need persuasive arguements.

In relation to my view on gay marriage, I find myself in complete agreement with a number of people. Firstly I agree with Queer Conservative when he states

Personally I think the whole argument boils down to semantics, i.e. the word “marriage.” Well fine, don’t call it marriage. Exempt religious institutions from having to recognize it. As long as the rights, privileges, and duties are the same I don’t care if we call it Blueberry Sherbet.

This has been an arguement of mine for awhile. I don’t like the word marriage and I am perfectlly happy with Civil Unions/Civil Partnerships. I mightened be so happy with Blueberry Sherbet

Secondly I also find myself in agreement with GayPatriotWest when he states:

They trying to change the type of relationships states privilege by calling them marriages.

Note the verb I use in that last sentence, “privilege” because that’s what states do when they call a particular kind of union, “marriage,” they privilege it. I’ve been saying that for years.

Again this is something I have stated before to friends. An article byThomas Sowell backs up that arguement.

The politically clever way to get special privileges is to call them “rights”– especially “equal rights.”

Thirdly I find myself completely agreeing with Sowell when he states:

Marriage is not a right but a set of legal obligations imposed because the government has a vested interest in unions that, among other things, have the potential to produce children, which is to say, the future population of the nation.

Gays were on their strongest ground when they said that what they did was nobody else’s business. Now they are asserting a right to other people’s approval, which is wholly different.

None of us has a right to other people’s approval.

(I do recommending reading his full column as like Maman Poulet he points out the problems with using segregation in relation to the campaign for gay marriage)

Strong stuff but wholly accurate.

The campaigns, not just in California and Ireland, but around the globe for Gay Marriage need to look closely at what they are agruing for and try and phrase it so that they get the maximum support. Until they can do this they are not likely to get mine or many other conservatives support for gay marriage.