Saturday, May 23, 2015

Irish Yes to Same Sex Marriage. A time for a real Irish celebration.

Sean O'Torain.

They poured into the voting centers. They traveled back from as far away as Australia, New York City and Britain to cast their yes votes. Huge lines formed at Dublin airport as they poured in. It is a day for the people of Southern Ireland to be proud. They have voted by up to two thirds to legalize same sex marriage. The final vote is not yet in but already leaders of the no vote have conceded defeat. Ireland will now be the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage by referendum. This is a great victory for human rights and for all Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender people. But more than that it is a great victory for all who believe that people should be allowed to express themselves sexually as they see fit as long as it does not involve any coercion against others.

This vote shows that Southern Ireland has fundamentally changed. When I was growing up there contraceptives and divorce were illegal. It is a far cry since Southern Ireland was one of the most backward countries in the world, ruled over by an unelected undemocratic anti women Catholic hierarchy. Today Southern Ireland, with this popular vote for same sex marriage, leads the world in the rights of LGBT people. And the affects of this vote will not be confined to Ireland.

To be LGBT is illegal in around 80 countries. In some of them the penalty is death. 2.7 billion people live in countries where to be LGBT is a crime. This vote, especially because it is a popular vote, and not a vote by some politicians, will have a very positive affect around the world. It will force people to think about this issue more and also to consider the rights and feelings of LGBT people. This will especially be the case in the Irish diaspora.

There are 80 million people who claim some Irish descent worldwide. In the US alone there are 36 million. There is a strong right wing Catholic influence with the Irish American population. To be Irish tends to be thought of as to be Catholic. Now to be Irish has to take into account that the majority of the people of Southern Ireland voted by overwhelming majority in favor of LGBT rights. The vote in Southern Ireland will positively affect the Irish diaspora and force it to consider what it means to be Irish. To be Irish today it to be in favor of same sex marriage and LGBT rights.  I am so happy today. For the first time in my life I almost feel like wearing something green.

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