One of those days

May 23, 2015 • 12:00 pm

Today we have a report from On the Spot by our Official Ireland Correspondent, writing about the gay marriage referendum, which just won approval in that Catholic country.

by Grania Spingies

Every once in a while you have a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. Sometimes it’s because of something personal and private, sometimes it’s because you were there when history was made. Either way, if you are lucky it will be a good memory, a day you remember with smiles and happiness. Ireland has had one of those days today. Today Ireland has voted for same-sex marriage with a resounding YES!

Actually, I stand corrected.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is an Irish Labour Party politician, and Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality.

Ireland has a relatively unique situation in which anything requiring a change to Irish law must be ratified by the electorate in a referendum. Although polls have shown for some time that the majority were in favor of same-sex marriage, there were concerns that the younger generations might not turn up to vote.

As it turns out, those worries were misplaced. Around 50,000 Irish citizens returned to Ireland just to cast their vote yesterday. (There is no absentee voting on referenda.) This is no small number in a country whose total population, including non-citizens, is only 6.4 million. Their stories can be seen on the Twitter hashtag #HomeToVote


And then there was this one, a little note found in a Dublin ballot box.

Although the results are not completely finalised yet, even the No side (whose rhetoric was littered with dishonest diatribes about child safety) has conceded defeat.

God has shown his approval by creating a double rainbow in the sky over the capital.

Those of you who used to be Catholic will have a good old giggle at this.

For those of you who were never Catholic, those are magic tokens that grant invisibility, full restoration and invulnerability on the bearer. Okay, maybe the bit about invisibility isn’t true.

Today was history in the making, and anyone who did participate will look back on this as a day when things got better and the world became a better place, at least in a small corner of it. That it happened in a country where homosexuality was illegal until 1993 and the population is 87% Catholic is no small thing. Sometimes change can happen, and it can happen fast. Today, everybody wins. #MarRef

61 thoughts on “One of those days

    1. Really? They still have a lethal anti-abortion law and are the one western nation with a blasphemy law. Indeed, when the UN raises the vexed question of archaic blasphemy laws with Islamic nations, they use the example of Ireland to sweep any debate under the carpet.

      A step forward for Ireland, but many miles to go.

    1. After Ireland, of all places just voted 2:1 in favor of marriage rights, I can’t imagine the Supremes wanting to be seen on the worng side of history.

      Anything’s still possible at this point, of course…but, if they don’t grant full marriage equality across the country, it’s pretty much a slam dunk that there’ll be an instant and guaranteed-to-be-successful campaign for an Amendment in favor by way of reaction.


  1. Well done, Ireland! It is remarkable how a thing that has been preached against and made actually illegal can in a generation or two become normal and acceptable.

  2. Yeah. great news. During the troubles when Northern Irish working-class Catholics tried to persuade working-class Protestants that they’d be better off united with the South, it was always a non-starter for 2 strategic reasons.

    The South’s economy was a basket-case compared to the north and the social laws – no abortion, anti-homosexuality, theocratic vetoes in the corridors of state power, the Vatican telling Protestants how to live. There never was a cat-in-hell’s chance of a united Ireland as long as the Catholics held the South back. x

  3. Were they “thinking about the children” when the priests were busy raping them? Now, suddenly, they care!

    1. When I used to read RWNJ forums, a common complaint was that the evil liberals wanted to ‘kill baybeez’ and ‘enslave humanity’ and ‘tax us to death’- “for the children”. And that anyone who uses “for the children” should not be trusted, because they are no better than Stalin and Mao combined.

      Yet, it’s the RWNJ’s who trot out ‘for the children’ at every damn opportunity.

  4. These things spread far beyond their little corner of the world. It really is magic. Religion is simply unbelievable but Magic I can believe …

  5. What a good start of the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest, arguably Europe’s gayest festival! 🙂

    1. here’s the whole thing:
      Ronan Mullen: ‘Some Yes campaigners might be tempted to say Catholic Ireland was executed today+will be buried in humanist ceremony’ #MarRef
      3:36 PM – 23 May 2015 · Dublin City, Ireland, Ireland

      1. He represents the NUI in the Seanad. In other words he is an elected rep for the national university of Ireland. I think it’s time to get rid of him next election.

  6. The guy giving the “V” sign – isn’t that the actor who was Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes’s nemesis, Moriarty?

      1. You’re welcome. The Yes campaign carried the day in Donegal South West by a margin of just 33 votes!

  7. Wonderful news!

    My sister is gay and it’s unfathomable to me that she and her partners would not have equal rights. I’m happy for every move forward, but remain galled at places that are standing still or regressing.

    The Church, as usual, has been a millstone around the neck of social progress and some are finally cutting themselves loose.

    1. LOL…typo, she doesn’t currently have “partners” but a “partner.”

      See how gay rights lead straight to polygamy?!! See, didn’t they tell us!!?


  8. I have to say watching the #hometovote brought a little tear to the eye, as someone pointed out it was a bit like the elves turning up at helmsdeep.

    I got to around 11 o clock on Friday and just told the boss I was heading home to vote. Work in Dublin still registered to vote in the boglands. Laois-Offaly 56.8% Yes so it made a difference.

    This is the first big step to getting a constitution that works and is fair no matter sex,race or creed. Still huge work to do with Blasphemy and religous oaths of office but when you win and get to point at Iona and laugh it makes for a great day.

    Time for a drink or two to celebrate that n ow my friends and family can enjoy the same rights I have.

  9. Looks like a dark day in Vatican City.

    Interesting that a place like Ireland can do this with a vote. Here in the U.S. it would never work because the issue is not really one to be decided by democracy. Essentially a minority rights issue and that goes to the courts — where it is now.

    1. Of course the current wave of same-sex marriage legitimization in the U.S. was spurred by SCOTUS upholding the lower courts’ overturning of California’s Proposition 8 (aka Prop H8) which was a succeasful referendum against same-sex marriage – so in a backwards way, democracy played a big part (and the LDS wasted a bunch of money earning the vote only to see overturned – bonus!). There are probably states which could vote-in same-sex marriage now, but needn’t since it will shortly officially be the law of the land. I wonder if Ireland’s vote will be mentioned in the opinions in next month’s decision on various states’ bans?

  10. Fantastic Ireland! Welcome to the exclusive club of nations that has marriage equality!

    It’s a bonus that this is a poke in the eye for the Catholic Church too.

  11. Ah… so that was the gnashing sound I heard today! It was the catholic church! Yet again they prove how out of step they are with the modern world!

  12. It’s a step in the right direction (sanity), but how about a vote on women’s abortion rights, as well as a vote that proscribes against the Catholic church having ANYTHING to do with the government?

    1. Yes, that question of abortion had crossed my mind. I must be a glass-half-empty kind of guy 😉

      Hopefully something can be done about that before too long. (Abortion I mean, not my querulous nature).

  13. The news out of Ireland is surely a welcome sign of, what– rationality? HOWEVER, I have a problem with the way this happy outcome came about: Since when are fundamental civil rights doled out on the basis of a popular vote?

    1. Depends on if you see it as a granting of rights or an agreement to no longer infringe upon rights. If the Irish govt. who made the call without any direct input from the citizenry the only difference would be that it was the whims of the elite rather than the masses, which is no better.

    2. Fundamental civil rights are usually enumerated in a country’s Constitution. Older Constitutions or ones mainly concerned with splitting legislative powers between Federating states don’t get into the nitty gritty of day to day life. However the Irish Constitution states “The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack.” along with a number of other quite prescriptive clauses on families and how they should be protected.
      I understand that when the question of same sex marriage was being considered it was thought that the best way to implement it was to define marriage appropriately in the Constitution.
      If something comes to be seen as a fundamental civil right it is usually necessary to change a law. The US has how many amendments to recognize fundamental rights that weren’t considered fundamental enough in 1770?
      So yes recognition of fundamental rights will usually require popular support or at least acquiescence in any basically democratic system.

      1. Exactly. Rights are not “god-given” nor do they exist in some Platonic space. They are for better or worse abstract inventions of people and will always be decided upon by people. It may be that one could argue that certain systems deliver better results, but if that’s the case, keep in mind that Ireland now has nation-wide marriage equality and the US still does not.

  14. This is beautiful news! I always did love a good romance story with a happy ending! Never one to read such novels, I’ve always loved the real thing, whenever and wherever it pops up. That picture of the kiss, for example: We need more of that! Make love, not war! And make that lots of love, too! Éirinn go Brách!

  15. The rainbow over Dublin – too funny. Let’s hear a Robertson or a Falwell explain that to us. 🙂

  16. “Ireland has a relatively unique situation in which anything requiring a change to Irish law must be ratified by the electorate in a referendum.”
    Not sure this is totally correct. They do have a parliament that makes law every day without referenda to ratify the law. It would be unworkable any other way.

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