In this week’s blog we welcome Moninne Griffith, co-director of the Marriage Equality campaign, who writes about the significance of the upcoming referendum on marriage equality in May, and about how the support of individual trade unionists can make a crucial difference to a successful campaign for a Yes vote.
In May 2015 the Irish electorate will get to vote on whether or not lesbian and gay couples will be afforded the right to marry.
This referendum is about these relationships being equal, it’s about doing the right thing, about being fair. It will, for the first time, give constitutional protection to lesbian and gay relationships and families. It will recognise that they should have the right to choose to get married like every other citizen.
All recent polls on voting intentions show that a majority will vote Yes. But, until now, those being polled have not been engaged with the campaign. The trade union movement and workers have been long standing allies of Marriage Equality because of their unique understanding about issues of equality. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure this support is realised on polling day.
Irish society has come a long way since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993. Civil partnership in 2010 was a milestone on the road to equality for same-sex couples. However, civil partnership is no substitute for civil marriage which will, if enacted, bring equal recognition before the law for lesbian and gay people.
If you support the campaign, you can really make a difference by doing one or more of the following:
Start conversations: Conversations about the referendum at home or in the work place are important. Ask others how they are thinking of voting. Encourage them to check the register and to vote. Explain your reasons for voting Yes. (see www.marriagequality.ie for information).
Donate: A fundraising initiative (#sharethelove) asking people to give small personal donations or organise fundraising events for the campaign has been launched. If you text ‘Love’ to 51500 you will get a text back telling you how to make a donation. Encourage your friends to donate too.
Get organised locally: Join or form a local group interested in canvassing in the run up to the vote. Identify the spaces in your locality where people gather, and where you could canvas their vote. Groups are forming, targeting train stations or simply planning to knock on doors with campaign leaflets.
Note the date: Make sure you put the referendum date in your diary when it’s announced. Make sure you exercise your vote and Vote Yes on the day. Tell ten others about the date and organise to go together to vote or even give a lift to those who need support to get to the polling station.
Many civil society organizations, as well as trade unions, are gearing up to support the campaign. Trade Unionists for Marriage Equality is launching this evening, February 13th. USI’s #makegráthelaw, students for marriage equality, and Faith in Marriage for people of various faith communities who intend to call for a Yes vote are but a flavor of what’s in store. So get involved and help win marriage equality.
A coalition campaign for civil marriage equality will soon be launched. ICCL, GLEN and Marriage Equality will play leading roles in coordinating the campaign. This grassroots-led, grassroots-targeted campaign will be looking for local community groups and bodies who support a Yes vote to ensure that as many doors as possible are knocked upon and as many Dart/Luas/train stations and football/sporting occasions as possible have a Yes campaign presence.
The Children and Family Relationships Bill (2014) is being debated in the Oireachtas. It will bring greater equality for diverse family types including addressing issues of guardianship, parenting and the right to apply to be adoptive parents for same-sex couples.
Voters must see clearly that the referendum is not asking people to judge whether or not lesbian and gay people make good parents or should be allowed to parent. Lesbian and gay people are already raising families. Happy families! The issue of parenting is being raised by those opposing marriage equality. It confuses the issue unnecessarily. Voters are only being asked to vote on the right to marry for lesbian and gay people.
We want to live in a country where solidarity translates into rights, where marriage equality is finally a reality and trade unionists can proudly say that they played a massive part in that great step for equality.
Thanks for your support
Readers’ poll – Marriage equality
A special poll has been set up where we’re asking readers of the IMPACT ebulletin and blog how they intend to vote in the referendum. Taking part in the poll is anonymous and is hosted via the Survey Monkey website.
Take part in the poll here (via Survey Monkey)