On Saturday just gone I spent a part of the afternoon following the coverage of the vote count for the approval of gay marriage in the Republic of Ireland. Happily they voted in favour by a margin of 62% to 38%, and became the first country to make this a matter of law by popular vote.
I don’t actually think that people should ever be allowed to vote against the idea of two consenting adults of the same sex having the same relationship choices as two consenting adults of differing sexes. Never-the-less that was the only constitutional choice in Ireland, and it was a big deal that the vote happened, and that a good majority supported the gay community. I found it very emotional to hear the stories of individuals, and to see how much it meant to gay folk to have this very practical and joyous sign of unity, which is now out there on public record.
The truth seems to be that most people, when push comes to shove, want other people to be able to live their lives in the way they choose. That is an incredibly uplifting thing to see in a country like Ireland where, until fairly recently, the Catholic church had a massive influence over what people thought about pretty much everything. Even though there is still a substantial amount of persecution of gay individuals and communities world wide, often stoked and emboldened by some version of “God doesn’t like it” theology, the Irish experience gives hope and lights a beacon for change.
It is easy to think that the obvious justness of the gay equality movement demonstrates that anybody in oppositition to it must be an intolerant, bigotted, anti-human human being. However, I know from personal experience how difficult it is to escape a certain mindset that is often fed to a person along with their mother’s milk. Trust me, if you are brought up with a holy book in which God says something is wrong and that, chances are, there are some kind of eternal punishments connected to ignoring that, it can take a long while, if ever, before you start looking at the issue objectively.
But happily these days I’m born again. And I do proudly proclaim: Je Suis Gay! I hope you are too.