There will be some critics of my writing on religion and its relationship with Ireland who will undoubtedly throw their eyes up and claim that ‘of course this atheist, outspoken, anti-organised religion poet is voting Yes for gay marriage to be legal, what else would he do?!’
There was a time, in my youth, that they would have been right; I would solely have voted against the will of the Catholic Church in Ireland and other religious organisations because throughout the history of this State we have had to live with the millstones of repression, propaganda, abuse and sectarianism, as well as interference with our, theoretically, secular government and enforced control over large sections of our education system. And while the inevitable separation of Church and State is far from complete in Ireland, in the last twenty years a massive shift away from such feudal and backward thinking has seen our nation progress, sometimes painfully, to a more open and humanitarian society.
I am not voting YES to thumb my nose at the Catholic Church or any of their secretive and malicious groups that use lies and fear to promote their bigotry, nor indeed at any of the Protestant Churches, who also oppose equal rights.
I am voting YES for three reasons. Firstly, because it is irrelevant to me if a friend, a relation or a work acquaintance is gay, straight or bi-sexual; I see sexuality as part of a person not the whole person.
The second reason I am voting YES is that morals (religious, social and personal) are based (or should be based) on a footing of compassion, acceptance and understanding. The NO campaign lacks all three of these vital humanitarian qualities. The NO campaign speaks about morals when in fact what they mean is trepidation, isolation and misinterpretation. If they really knew their subject matter they would accept gay people as being part of our history, our vibrant society and our future, just like anyone else or any other race, creed or colour group in Ireland today.
The third and final reason I will be voting YES on the 22nd of May is alone reason enough for any right thinking Irish person to cast their vote and cast it for equality; Being Gay is not a lifestyle choice; it is not an illness or an immorality. As long as there have been people there have been gay people and therefore any and all human rights extend to gay people as much as they do to all the peoples of the world. This is an infallible truth and cannot be denied by any individual, group or organisation.
Voting YES on Friday May 22nd is voting to reaffirm our own personal right to behave as all humans should towards others, as we would wish them to behave towards us.
A YES vote is not a pro-gay vote is – it is a Pro-YOU vote.
Vote Yes for yourself.
Poet & Novelist