If you’re voting NO because you’re a Christian, please remember that the most vociferous condemnation of homosexuality (male homosexuality—lesbianism is mentioned nowhere in the Bible) occurs in the book of Leviticus. The same book condemns hunchbacks, dwarves and anyone unlucky enough to have crushed testicles. I love an aul oyster but they are considered an abomination, as is consensual homosexual activity. The same book tells you that slaves may only be obtained from neighbouring nations, which seems to explain the attitude of some U.S. Republican Christians when it comes to the treatment of Latin Americans within their borders. The same book tells you the right way to sacrifice a bull. (Burnt on an altar, in case you’re wondering—it creates an odour that is pleasing to the Lord). Is this really where we want to get our rules? Also remember that the book of Genesis promotes, in no uncertain terms, the gang-raping of a virgin girl as preferable to human-angelic homosexual activity. Is this a metaphor, a parable? If so, what does it teach? That handing over your young daughter to a horde of horny townsfolk is preferable to gay sex? Is this really what you believe?
If you’re voting NO because you’re an Irish Catholic remember your church opposed, among many other things, tampons, divorce and those civil-partnerships they seem to love so much these days. Your church took an official policy of hushing up the assault, battery and rape of minors in their care, preferring to move these priests elsewhere to spread their evil around the globe, getting down on their knees to pray that we call it clerical abuse. Clerical abuse, because that sounds just a little bit like a clerical error and that’s more palatable and pardonable than images of 7 and 8 year old boys and girls with anal and vaginal tearing and the stains, literal and metaphorical, of semen, tears, blood and shame that cannot be washed away. They would rather take care of children than allow same-sex couples to do so. I think the children of Ireland have had enough of this kind of pastoral care.
If you’re voting NO because of surrogacy concerns you’ve been conned. This is a referendum about whether the people of the Irish Republic should extend the right of marriage to same-sex couples. Nothing more, nothing less. Heterosexuals, conservatives and liberals, have been conceiving, birthing and rearing non-heterosexuals for centuries. This is not going to stop. A small number of children in Ireland are reared and cared for by non-heterosexuals. A YES vote will simply offer these families constitutional protection.
If you’re voting NO it’s because you do not want non-heterosexuals to have the same rights as heterosexuals. You do not want non-heterosexuals to be able to enjoy the social and legal status of marriage. You do not want non-heterosexuals to call each other husband or wife. You think that a child reared by non-heterosexuals will be deficient in some way and think this is in some way related to the referendum. There’s a name for this kind of thinking.
I cannot vote, for anything. I live and work legally in Mexico but cannot vote from abroad and am officially barred from getting involved in Mexican politics. While I can indirectly skirt around the latter issue, I simply cannot vote on Irish issues. An Irish novelist in NYC recently told me she was flying home to vote YES. I cannot afford to make the trip home but I applaud anyone making an effort to do so, regardless of whether they vote YES or NO. We know we don’t have real democracy in Ireland. Small cadres decide what a political party is in favour of and their TDs, councillors and senators do their best to implement these policies. Large corporate political donations make a mockery of democracy. But a referendum is different. It seems to me to be the only time we experience real democracy in its purest form. If you don’t care if non-heterosexuals get married, then you must vote YES, if you believe in equality, then vote YES. Vote YES for your non-heterosexual friends and family, present and future. Vote YES for Ireland. Vote YES for compassion.