OPINION: 'I Thought The Same-Sex Marriage Referendum Was A Formality... Until I Read This'
On May 22nd, Ireland will finally have a chance to tackle one of its most important human rights issues and take action to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Over the last number of weeks and months, I've looked at the upcoming referendum as a formality, a rubber-stamping of the views of almost everyone I know.
However, this week, I came across something that grabbed me around the shoulders and opened my eyes to just how naive I have been.
It was a Facebook post from someone who had been involved in canvassing for a 'yes' vote in the referendum and included a list of responses that this ONE person had received while going door-to-door.
This volunteer was ordered away from people's houses; asked if she was "one of them"; told that being gay was "unnatural" and "disgusting"; asked when she was "diagnosed"; and informed that "while the poor divils can't help it", the voter in question couldn't possibly vote for the introduction of same-sex marriage as "you wouldn't know where that would lead them".
In a later conversation, I heard the story of a gay man who (recently) emigrated to Australia so he could live his life openly, as he felt that his family would lose out on work if he was honest about his sexuality in his home village.
Those quotes didn't come from Ireland in 1950, they came from Ireland in 2015.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not for a second having a go or casting judgement on the people who answered the door to that canvasser. The fact is that their views have probably been imposed on them by others or come from a lack of understanding rather than malice.
The reason I felt the need to write this post is to highlight the fact that the conversation surrounding why Ireland desperately needs a 'yes' vote in the next referendum needs to be bigger, louder and unrelenting until it reaches every single person who can cast a vote on ballot day.
We have a long way to go to bring this country's outdated legislation in line with modern society but this is as good a place to start as any.
If we truly want to see a historic step forward for equality, we all have a responsibility to talk to our parents, our grandparents, our siblings, our friends, our flatmates and anyone else we come across to make sure that by the end of this year, the only obstacle stopping someone walking down the aisle is finding the right person to stand at the end of it.
And lord knows, isn't that hard enough?