It’s a year, one full year, since Ireland voted in a referendum to make all our citizens equal, and the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to do the right thing.
As a veteran of previous referendums, I wasn’t sure they would but I’m glad to say I was wrong.
As somebody who didn’t have a dog in the fight, I was glad that my LGBTQ friends were vindicated.
As an Irish citizen, I was proud to have contributed whatever small thing I could.
The Irish people decided to do the decent thing. Marriage equality is now the law of the land and yet there are many who fail to accept the democratic will of the Irish people. The Iona Institute lobby group have pumped out one self-pitying article after another bewailing the fact that the Irish people voted the wrong way in a democratic referendum. One authoritarian ideologue after another has berated us for failing to obey their instructions.
If you thought oppression disappeared in 1922, you made a big mistake. They haven’t gone away, you know, and the oppression only got worse. After independence, Ireland was delivered into the hands of an overbearing elite of wealthy people who, of course, had always been in control but who now held the levers of power.
It comes as a shock to most of us who didn’t share in the privilege and the wealth of these people for generations. When we see them shuffle out of the darkness, as we saw last year in the Marriage Equality debate, we are genuinely shocked. We gaze on them and we ask ourselves how we could not have known about this layer of society. This layer that holds so much wealth and so much entitlement. This layer that considers itself superior to the rest of us, even though there is no objective reason to justify such an opinion.
I went to the radio debate held by Newstalk and of course the attendance was as diverse as you might expect. There was the lunatic fringe, represented by John Waters. There was the idealistic group of committed youngish people. There was a bunch of battle-worn old skeptics like myself.
And over there in the corner was a crowd of sour-looking, prosperous-looking elders (sad to say) dressed like the audience of the Late Late Show and clearly outraged at the notion that anyone would have the gall to disagree with them.
Otherwise known as The Rich.
I found them hilarious, but the louder I laughed at John Waters, the deeper became the scowls of the ladies in the twin-sets until eventually a stern-looking old fellow in a suit walked up to the young people in front of us and gave them a harsh stare, like a teacher from the 1960s threatening physical abuse on a class of six-year-olds.
I got the blame, naturally, for laughing at John Waters but I’ll wear that badge with pride. The rich old people might well have never heard of him but they seemed happy to take any lunatic they could get, given the utter stupidity of their cause. In fairness to them, the older I get, the stupider I get but at least my stupidity isn’t aimed at depriving my fellow citizens of freedom. That’s where religious madness comes in.
It’s a full year since our brothers and sisters won full recognition but at least it happened. Ireland legalised same-sex marriage and the people who voted for it included elderly aunties, raving Commies and quiet-minded religious people who understood the notion of decency.
As I said, I had no dog in the fight, but that might have been a little inaccurate. Of course I have LGBT friends who might wish to be married, but more importantly, the dog I have in this fight is the dog guarding us all against intolerance and religious extremism.