If I knew how to say marriage equality in Gaelic, I would have titled this post differently, but today is already shaping up to be a historic day across the pond in Ireland.
Voters in the Republic of Ireland are heading to the polls today to vote on a landmark referendum – to ask the people of Ireland to change the country’s constitution to allow for same-sex marriage. If passed, Ireland would become the first country to adopt same-sex marriage through popular vote.
A simple “yes” or “no” vote on the question: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
If more say “yes” than say “no,” the change to the constitution will give gay and lesbian couples the right to civil marriage, but not to be wed in a church.
Not surprisingly, the issue is a polarizing one, as it has been around the world. Ireland is an interesting dynamic – a majority Catholic nation heavily rooted in tradition voting on what many consider to be a liberal cause. The “yes” campaign had been polling strongly all along, but support has diminished somewhat as the day of the actual vote has arrived.
The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has indicated his strong support for the referendum and has indicated he plans to vote “yes” today.
I can only hope that the people of Ireland will do the right thing today and affirm the equality of their LGBT brothers and sisters by allowing them civil marriages, but the vote highlights a fundamental issue. Allowing the majority to vote on the rights of a minority group is problematic – an argument that has been made several times in the United States, particularly in Massachusetts, compelling lawmakers and judges to intervene. No better example exists but with the passage of the now overturned Proposition 8 in California. Hopefully I’ll be able to update this post later today with good news!