On May 22nd we have a great opportunity. We can step out and exercise our democratic voice. I don’t expect everyone to share my opinion or to vote the same way I will, but I hope that we, as irish citizens, take the opportunity presented to us seriously. I hope that no one makes their decision based on half truths and misinformation.
Personally, I believe all love is equal. I don’t want to live in an Ireland where I have to look my fellow citizens in the eye and say that my love is greater, better, of more worth than your love. I can marry my choice of partner but my fellow citizens are expected to settle for second best. For those who say civil union is enough, I ask them would it be enough for them? Imagine for a minute that you were told you could not marry your love? Not because of circumstance or choice or timing, but because the state tells you so. Who are any of us to marry who we choose and in the next breath tell someone else who they can and cannot marry?
I’ve been mulling this over for a while, having had the privilege over the years of being in the presence of great love in all of it’s glorious diversity, and uniqueness.
Firstly, marriage is about love. Secondly, it is a civil and legal arrangement with an optional religious aspect. Thirdly, for too long has marriage been tied up with parenting, which has resulted in suffering for thousands of women and children since the foundation of the state. Children around Ireland are being raised by men and women, women alone, men alone, men and men, women and women. What will enable those children to thrive and reach their potential is love and security. The sex and sexual orientation of their parents has nothing to do with it. Plenty of children are being raised by both parents with precious little love and security. It’s the individual(s) and their commitment to their children that matters. Being a biological mother or father does not make you a great parent. The choices you make and the support you offer your children, biological or otherwise, as they ride the imperfect waves of this imperfect world is what matters.
Same sex couples will continue to form families, just as they are now, regardless of the outcome in May. However unless things change, these families will continue to be denied the protection and security of the state. These families will continue to be forced into second place. This is not cherishing all the children of the nation equally.
Stopping marriage equality will not stop gay people from parenting, all it will do is to continue to treat them and their family as second best.
Before you make a decision on May 22nd, think about your friends, your living family and your family not yet born, the people you work with, drink with, pass on the street, sit opposite on the train, who are the same as you in every way aside from who they happen to love. Think about the children and young people who agonise over the knowledge that they are ‘different’, growing up with society telling them that their love is not equal to my love.
Our fellow citizens are trusting us with their love, their dreams, their future. Whatever decision you make on May 22nd, do it with the same respect and compassion that you would ask of them if they were voting on your love, your dreams, your future.