Written by Orla Egan
I am still reeling from the emotional rollercoaster of the weekend as my country finally voted to respect me, my son, my family, my friends and my community.
This weekend Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through popular vote. And by a resoundingly popular vote – 62.1% overall, with only one constituency (Roscommon-South Leitrim) voting No. The highest YES vote was in Dublin South East with 74.9%. In the 5 Cork constituencies the YES vote ranged from 56% (Cork South West) to 65.8% (Cork South Central).
It has been a long and hard journey to get here. This weekend’s vote is the result of decades of LGBT community activism all over Ireland. Since at least the 1970s Irish LGBT people have supported one another to build community and have pride in who we are, despite the consistent messages from the church, the laws, the media and society telling us that we were sick, evil, lesser and unworthy. We set up LGBT organisations, centres and services. But we also created community – we created the positive spaces where LGBT people could be together, to love, to party, to affirm each other – to counterbalance all the negativity. We gave each other the strength to come out in ever increasing numbers. And that’s what made the difference. People respond to the personal. Its easy to vilify a concept – a gay man, a lesbian family etc. – its harder to hate the person standing in front of you: your son, your daughter, your mother, your uncle, your neighbour, your colleague. Its the stories of real people’s lives that have convinced so many people to vote YES.