Maybe some day, some one will be able to articulate what it meant to be part of a YES Equality canvass team in the Marriage Equality referendum? Some have said it was the best experience of their lives, that it lifted them out of hopelessness about political change, that it gave them back a sense of pride in their true identity. Others who voted NO are saying they had no idea how much a YES vote would mean, and now wish in retrospect that they had voted differently….
Some day we might figure out how it happened that Ireland, a once conservative, Catholic society where abortion is still illegal, mobilised and voted to enshrine equal marriage in our constitution? Where our young people came home to vote from all over the world, where Grandparents spoke in favour of something which for their generation had been unheard of. Where we all wept one minute and grinned our ears off the next and couldn’t believe in the goodness of some people or then in the downright meanness of others.
What swung it? How did the likes of us, end up here, marching in this Pride Parade with 50-60,000 others? At that first meeting in the Mother of Pearl Cafe in Tramore, I wondered how we could possibly pull this off and how devastating it would be if the country voted No?
8 weeks later…..it seemed as if the world had changed…..
For me it was always about creating safety, belonging, love. We were asking for something so positive, a YES. We were asking Ireland to grow up, to embrace diversity, and citizenship. And in keeping with my own work of 30 years in Framework it was also about progressing equality which would impact on everyone.
Looking back I now see that while it’s a step in the right direction it needs to be the beginning of lots more positive change. Having been involved in this work most of my life, I have no illusions that getting here took a long, long commitment by some absolute legends who dedicated their lives to it. There are still other areas of inequality which remain shamefully and blatantly off the agenda of the powers that be, in spite of similar commitment over years. Finding the key to the next steps will be a challenge for us all.
I am still caught up in the romance of it because love won!!! All of you who played your own part, walked side by side with the LGBTI community and went out to vote YES were a part of that. Today along with other campaign teams from across the country, we celebrated our #Pride and privilege of being part of an amazing community and a life changing event in our history.