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.