Irish parents with a gay son urged a “yes” vote on the gay marriage referendum

May 24, 2015 • 10:30 am

Although some folks who favor gay marriage are still grousing about yesterday’s great victory in Ireland, calling out the Irish for not legalizing abortion at the same time, those are curmudgeons who can’t appreciate that big step forward, or realize that legalization of abortion will follow in time. What happened this weekend was a slap in the face of retrograde Catholicism, and so let us celebrate that for at least a short while.

Meanwhile, reader Gunnar sent me a link to an article in Friday’s New York Times about a video made by two Irish parents in their late 70s, Brighid and Paddy White (you can’t get names more Irish than that!), whose son came out to them as gay 13 years ago. The son, Padraic, is a professor of English at Trinity College Dublin. To support him, and the cause, Brighid and Paddy made a short video in March supporting the referendum, which they put on YouTube. Here it is:

Doesn’t that bring tears to your eyes? Sure, they’re reading their lines, but so what? The sentiment is genuine, and shows that no matter how old you are, you can still change your mind and do the right thing.

As the Times reports, the Whites are Catholics:

The couple continue to practice Catholicism, and they said they made the video not in spite of their religion but because of it.

“We are Catholics, and we are taught to believe in compassion and love and fairness and inclusion,” the elder Mr. Whyte said. “Equality, that’s all we’re voting for.”

Ms. Whyte added that her gay son and religious beliefs weren’t her only reasons for making the video.

“I must tell you,” she said. “I have 11 beautiful grandchildren. So that’s another reason, I want to make a better place for them.”

It’s a pity that, unlike the Whites, the Vatican wants the world to remain a mean-spirited place of inequality.

28 thoughts on “Irish parents with a gay son urged a “yes” vote on the gay marriage referendum

  1. Interesting and maybe shows at least one way to break the hold religion has on most folks. When the religious belief hits someone personally like this, with a gay child, they have the nerve to do something about the dogma.

    Even the likes of Dick Cheney did the same thing on this issue and for the same reason. Soon we will see the Supreme Court finally do the same thing because they have to, not because they want to. The vote in Ireland may help to push them a little.

      1. It just goes to show you: some familiarity with the group you demonize can often defuse the hatred.

        Which is precisely why purveyors of knowledge such as your good self are (correctly) identified by the god-squad as one of their more severe existential challenges.
        As I am sure you know. Your actions strongly suggest so.

        1. Surveys show this – in America those who don’t personally know any atheists rate them 29 on a 100 degree temperature scale. Those who do rate them a neutral 50.

          Incidentally, in this Pew survey, it was the biggest difference between perception and reality of any group. To me, it’s why different groups who suffer from prejudice need to speak out – the majority are always shocked by how “normal” they are.

    1. And that is why religion is so sectarian in nature.

      A primary function of religion is to divide the in group from the out group and to demonize the out group.

      But as you point out, once you personally become familiar with the out group it becomes harder and harder to treat them as anything less than fellow human beings.

      And it is becoming harder and harder for religion to enforce this sort of sectarianism.

  2. Congratulations! Beautiful, thoughtful people. This video means a lot to me. Usually you only see famous people take a stand. How much more meaningful for every-day people to express their opinions. IRELAND!!!!

  3. It’s true that knowing people who are gay makes people less inclined to discriminate against them. I think Pinker was on to something when he wrote about the increased availability of books written from the perspective of women and slaves as having an influence in shifting social values.

  4. From spain, so forgive my english.

    I’m very puzzled with the result in a country where abortion is still illegal. Perhaps someone wit a good knowledge of irish culture and society could bring some light. Maybe it has something to do with abortion being a women thing, thus with discrimination about women? Maybe not “almost everyone” knows a woman who has needed an abortion sometime. I don’t know.

    There’s other thing that makes me a bit sad, as I feel a lot for this couple, they remind me of my own fathers (althought they are not catholic); how they cling to their religion, even as is very clear that their religion doesn’t support their statement as they say. It makes me wonder if the church can really adapt to this, as the bible is very clear but people can clearly have this contradiction in their mind. Dublin’s archbishop ( has spoken aparently kindly of the result of the vote, “I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years. I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the Church”, but it seems to me that, in the line of the pope, is talking about comunicating the doctrine in a different way, no changing it.

    1. In Ireland up until the late 60’s everyone towed the party line, with removal of the special place for the catholic church from the constitution, removal of the marriage ban in the civil service and the civil rights movement in Ireland north and south. There was a worry that Irish people would want silly things like bodily autonomy or contraceptives.
      So a conservative movement pushed for an amendment to the constitution which would give the unborn the same legal rights as it’s mother. This is the 8th amendment to the constitution. At the time Mary Robinson, who would become president, predicted that there would be a case which would mean that abortion would be allowed in Ireland because of the wording of the amendment.

      She was right, it occurred in 1993 and is called the x case.

      The 8th amendment needs to be repealed before the dail can legislate for abortion. This will be a very difficult campaign as Ireland has a very organised religious right which has huge funding from America at present.

      There are three areas that I would like to see changed, religious oaths of office, blasphemy and the the 8th

      1. In Ireland up until the late 60’s everyone towed the party line,

        Sorry, but that just torched a nerve afire for me. I’ve had too many people reigning in their royalty from up on their high horses this week to let it go by.
        One “toes the line” : it’s a [simile or metaphor – probably simile] from the safer version of boxing where a pair of lines were drawn in the sand of the arena (footnote 1) of competition, and after the end of each round the boxers had to come back up to the line and stand up with their toes at the line before the next round of the bout could commence. If one didn’t/ couldn’t “toe the line”, then the other boxer won the bout be default. (And crawling over the line on bended knees wouldn’t do – toes only, no hands.
        Maybe you’re thinking of “crossing the line” – that’s a naval strategy metaphor. [2]
        Or there’s “heaving the line”, which isn’t the consequence of a particularly evil student drinking game [3], but is from taking a depth sounding.
        Footnotes : [1] – I know. Seriously, I do know. I’ve re-bottled 5 samples of “black sand” for an arenologist friend today.
        [2] I think, if you managed to cross the line of the opposing fleet with your “ships of the line” … oh, you can research it for yourself. Horses may come somewhere into it in an alternative universe.
        [3] Dotted fluorescent green lines are doing it with style! Only seen it done once, and have no interest in being the active party in a replay.

          1. “…I could have done it on purpose…”

            Tempting now, though, isn’t it? 😉

        1. Towed, definitely wrong.

          Toed — OK.

          I thought it was from forming Divisions in the Royal Navy in the days of wooden ships, when the sailors would line up on the deck seams (in preparation for inspection).

          But I can definitely see the boxing metaphor.

      2. Very interesting, Kieran, I did not know there was such a constitutional amendment. And now I’m quite interested to know about the x case. 🙂

          1. Thanks, also very interesting.

            Amazing to me that all debate doesn’t stop right after the phrase, “a fourteen-year-old girl.”

            But I like the two amendments that passed as a result of this case.

          2. Yeah but she was obviously a sinner because she got pregnant. If she’d thought only pure thoughts during the episode she wouldn’t have. Or something like that. [/sarcasm]

            This is probably the wrong thread, but if you feel that Ireland’s abortion laws are particularly primitive and want to do something concrete to express your disapproval, you could chuck a few bucks the way of Abortion Support Network (you can google them). But be aware, it’ll show up as “AbortionSup” in your credit card statement.

          3. Is the current law in Ireland. Does not allow for abortion in the case of foetal abnormality and the first test case of this resulted in the Mother being forced to undergo a C-section which endangered both her and the foetus.

            We also had the crazy case just before Christmas of a woman who had been declared brain dead put on life support because of their worry about legal implications of the 8th amendment

  5. The couple continue to practice Catholicism, and they said they made the video not in spite of their religion but because of it.

    “We are Catholics, and we are taught to believe in compassion and love and fairness and inclusion,” the elder Mr. Whyte said. “Equality, that’s all we’re voting for.”

    And this is why Catholicism (and all religions) are eventually going to fail. Too many Catholics are measuring “compassion and love and fairness and inclusion” by worldly humanist standards, instead of looking up what’s true in their dogma.

    The long, withdrawing roar is one of triumph, not melancholy. Kudos to the couple.

  6. Jerry, do you think ‘marriage equality’ should extend to siblings and polygamists? If homosexuals are allowed to marry, what arguments are there, if any, for discriminating against other forms of sexual unions?

  7. I’m not grousing, I think it’s great. If it signals a step towards liberalisation and hence legalising abortion then even better. I do hope it doesn’t mean the Catholics, having lost this one, fight abortion even harder determined not to lose another; or that the population think OK, this is enough enlightenment for a while so they can relax.

    If I had to choose between abortion and gay marriage I’d unhesitatingly choose abortion, because its lack can have far worse consequences on the persons involved than inability to marry does. Of course it isn’t an either-or choice.

    But anyway, it’s certainly worth celebrating.

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