Now that the Marriage Equality Act 2015 has been enacted into law, I can finally admit something.
I never thought it would happen.
Oh me of little faith! How badly I misjudged the mood of the Irish people and how proud I feel of them today that the campaign to give equality to our brothers and our sisters has borne fruit. If you had asked me a year ago whether Ireland would legalise same-sex marriage, I would have scoffed at the idea because I thought Ireland was so entrenched in old ideas that it would never drag itself out of the mud, and yet that was an entirely wrong perception.
I was wrong, though not perhaps as wrong as the authoritarian rump that emerged to resist the campaign for equality, for this was a movement based on a deeply flawed assumption, rooted in the 1950s, that the people of Ireland would somehow bow the head to a cadre of wealthy, privileged ideologues.
And they were wrong.
Ireland was in no mood to be told what to do by people with no popular mandate. Ireland had moved on from the days when a crowd of self-appointed demagogues could successfully dictate the popular vote. This was no longer the Ireland of John Charles McQuaid and that fact came as a shock to the people styling themselves Mothers and Fathers Matter, the Iona Institute and assorted other manifestations of Opus Dei.
There’s no other way to say this, so let’s say it as it was. These groups were reduced to peddling plain lies in their desperation to deprive their fellow citizens of equality. They grasped at every dishonest straw they could reach, and in the process they achieved two results.
First, they debunked the belief that they might be any sort of Christians, and second they undermined the notion that the people of Ireland had any respect for their hateful message.
At one bound they were free of support.
But enough of these marginal pressure groups. No doubt they’ll pop up again in future arguments, but today is a day for people to celebrate equality as citizens before the law. Today is a day when our brothers and our sisters can plan their legal weddings with all the travails attendant on such a journey, free of the fear that religious ideologues might try to stop them.
Let’s celebrate marriage equality for our brothers and our sisters, and let’s wish them every good fortune.
Today, Ireland grew up just a little bit more.