Solvenia’s government passed marriage equality legislation becoming the 14 European country to legalise marriage rights for LGBT Europeans. Irish citizens will have a chance to vote ‘yes’ for marriage equality on Friday, 22nd of May 2015 thus becoming the 15th nation in Europe, by voting yes on the question: [Shall] Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex?
Some people are confused because Ireland all ready grants civil partnerships to LGBT couples. Since January 1, 2011, Ireland has recognized Civil Partnerships for same sex couples which affords rights to similar to, yet is still different than civil marriage. Voting ‘yes’ on the referendum will grant equal legal recognition and protection to all relationships within Ireland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny is avidly campaigning for Ireland’s citizens to vote ‘yes’ on the referendum. “A yes vote would, I believe, send out a power signal internationally that Ireland has evolved into a fair, compassionate and tolerant nation,” Kenny said. “This is about you; it’s about your right to say two small words, made up of three simple letters – I DO.”
“It is powerful to hear the Taoiseach of our country endorse the relationships of lesbian and gay people and that it is right for them to have full and equal status as citizens of our republic,” said Kieran Rose, chair of the Ireland’s Gay Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN). “When the leader of our country states the case for equality so clearly it sends a clear and positive message to all lesbian and gay people, their parents and families, as well as to all of Ireland, of their full place at the heart of Irish society,” Rose said.
The Republic of Ireland is the first country in the world to put the issue to a popular vote. Oscar Winner Dustin Lance Black recently said to law students and faculty at the University College Dublin, he wishes the matter of deciding if marriage equality is legal in Ireland was left up to the court of law because in the Irish Constitution, under ‘Personal Rights’ section 40, number 1 says, ‘All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.’ However, Black then stated this is something beautiful for the Irish people. “When you win on May 22nd, it says you understand the value of diversity. So much so, that Irish people so much understand the value of diversity that you actually showed up to vote for it,” he said. Black urged people to go out and tell their stories and to build a bridge for a better Ireland.
The marriage equality referendum is the opportunity for Irish citizens to put in black and white in the Irish Constitution that LGBT couples are entitled to the legal protection under Irish law. This is not about religion verses culture, rather bringing in line Irish law with the Irish Constitution and other European Union countries who all ready have marriage equality, guaranteeing all their citizens have equal human rights.
The latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, suggest a landslide victory with 71% in favour of granting marriage equality to gays and lesbians. However, ignore the polls as the vote will come down to getting ALL Irish citizens to vote and preferably the majority will be voting ‘yes!’