Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Ireland will vote No to same-sex marriage. The first time.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 25, 2011 in Irish Politics |

There's a rainbow coming...

There's a rainbow coming...

Listening to the news that New York state has decided to legalise gay marriage made me consider what will happen here. In the programme for government, there’s a commitment to reviewing same-sex marriage as part of the constitutional convention. Will we have a referendum? It’s hard to see the government wanting to risk a proposed constitutional reform package by lumping something as controversial as SSM into it, so a stand alone referendum would seem likely. If Labour don’t deliver on that, it’ll be hung around their necks, and they know it too. As to whether it would be won, I have to say, as a convinced supporter of SSM (and a former passionate homophobe, to my shame), that I don’t think so. It’ll be divorce in 1986 all over again, with polls showing strong support for the Yes side until the debate starts and the crazies bring gay adoption into it (something the Irish are not ready for, which is mad, considering all the nutters I know had straight parents) and it falls at the last hurdle.

But don’t despair, because the debate itself will be useful. Labour will be the most solidly pro-Yes party. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will allow a free vote, and Sinn Fein will whisper “vote Yes” in the softest tone possible, with the same (non-existent) passion they showed during the citizenship referendum. In fact, if Labour are smart, they’ll strap Sinn Fein to themselves for the duration of the campaign, and embarrass the shit out of them as the shinners try to have it both ways, being fashionably lefty but not pissing off their conservative rural voters. As the shinners are going after Labour’s working class voters, Labour might as well make it hard for them.

The vote will be a 42% Yes, or thereabouts, and will lay the seeds for the next time, when we will win. TDs will be surprised that even in rural areas, there will be people who voted Yes, and the smart ones will know that this is an idea whose time, if it hasn’t quite arrived, is certainly on its way. After all, remember the people who led the Divorce campaign in 1986? Garrett, who lost in 1986, was laid to rest this year a national hero who was proven, on divorce and so many other issues, to have been right. Remember the leaders of the sucessful  No to Divorce campaign? No, me neither. 

8 Comments

William Quill
Jun 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

I still have the tiniest hope that the government will realise there’s nothing in the constitution prohibiting it and just legislate tomorrow. But I know that’s not going to happen. I just wish Labour had not toed themselves to a referendum in their manifesto.

I’m not as pessimistic as you, but I think it depends on two things:
1. The gay rights lobby being very in tune with the public and reading opinion polls to know what they really mean and when best to make the push.

2. The Yes side bring prepared from the beginning with stories of gay couples raising children and how those children would be better off if their parents could marry. One reason Prop 8 passed in California in 2008 was that its proponents were the only ones to mention children, the opposition worried it would obscure the issue too much.

I also think language will be important (reinforced after reading Frank Luntz’s book on political language). Where possible, I think proponents of change should say something like “allowing gay couples to marry” rather than “introducing gay marriage/same-sex marriage”. A quote I love on this is “I had lunch today, I didn’t have gay lunch”. “Martiage equality” is fine, but in general conversation and discourse, it probably comes off as jargon.


 
Elaine J
Jun 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm

“as a convinced supporter of SSM (and a former passionate homophobe, to my shame)”…

Now *that* would make for a fascinating blog post. I’m aware it could potentially be something too personal to post (a lot of people seem to do u-turns on homophobia because of gay friends, relatives etc), but I think the reasons why people do such u-turns are really interesting and could reveal a lot about why people think as they do about same sex marriage etc.

Indulge me if you wish, but no need to feel obliged :)


 
Pidge
Jun 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm

(Not to underestimate the ability of the far-right in Ireland to twist things. Still.)


 
Criostoir
Jun 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Remember how the government used tax payers money in an unconstitutional way to fund the yes campaign for divorce and still only won by a few thousand votes


 
Jason O
Jun 28, 2011 at 6:32 am

Was that pre-McKenna? I’d forgotten about that. Still, curious how no major party has advocated that we have another referendum to reverse the result. After all, you’d think there’d be votes in it, by your logic, and we know how those politicians love votes! Perhaps you should run on a “Bring back the Divorce ban!” platform.


 
Criostoir
Jun 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

As per previous discussions where you advocated quotas for women and I mentioned quotas for conservative Catholic. Our political parties are not really very representative of actual opinion. And it was was post-Mc Kenna – they just ignored the judgement.


 
Jason O
Jun 28, 2011 at 8:57 am

Well, by that logic, then, there must be a huge conservative “family values” (I hate that misleading phrase) vote just waiting to be tapped into. What are you waiting for?


 
William
Aug 24, 2016 at 3:02 pm

In response to Criostoir, so many years later, the McKenna judgment was about the divorce referendum. Although Patricia McKenna herself voted Yes to divorce, she still objected to the use of state funds for the Yes side, perhaps in part conscious that there would be future EU referendums. (In McKenna (No. 1), directly in response to Maastricht, the court ruled against her claims.) So at the time, the government didn’t know they were acting unconstitutionally. They had less of an excuse with Children.


 

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