I REMEMBER waking up on the morning of my wedding feeling like I was going to throw up and die of excitement all at the same time.
We had been planning our big day for well over a year and had poured money, time and energy into making it the perfect day to celebrate with our friends and family.
We were (and still are) so in love and we wanted to shout it from the roof tops. We had the big day with the pouffy dress and the fancy hotel and the vintage car. I even wore a tiara, for God’s sake. Looking back at 2011 me, I still roll my eyes at that bit. I did lose the run of myself.
But the point is, it was our special day and we wanted to celebrate it our way, so we did. We had 130 guests, we fed and watered them and spent the night dancing the feet off ourselves on the dance floor. True story that, I still have bloody stumps where my toes should be.
When Yer Man got down on one knee at the top of the Eiffel Tower, I had no hesitation in saying yes – in fact I quite literally jumped up and down with joy and almost deafened him by bellowing my acceptance. And I practically danced up the aisle.
I said yes then and I’m writing this today because I believe in marriage.
I believe in love. I believe in fidelity. I believe in promises. I believe in joy. And I believe, more than anything else, that marriage should be open to all who choose it.
Currently in Ireland marriage is only open to opposite sex couples. LGBT people are not allowed to marry, they are excluded simply by virtue of their sexuality.
And I believe that this is wrong.
On May 22 Ireland will hold a referendum asking the Irish public to widen the definition of civil marriage in our Constitution, to allow same-sex couples to marry.
It’s going to be a simple Yes or No question – you either agree with it or you don’t. I agree with it and here’s why I think you should too:
- Marriage isn’t a delicate flower, available only to the chosen few. It is a strong and robust institution, one that gives so many such happiness and joy. And just as importantly, one that confers legal rights and security on the two people involved and their families. Why should a whole section of our society be excluded from that?
- Allowing LGBT people to marry won’t damage marriage, it will only strengthen it. It will only enhance it. After May 22 if the referendum is passed, I – and all other currently married couples – will still be married. Nothing will have changed. My marriage will still be legally recognised by law and all the current legal security I and my husband and my son enjoy will be maintained. This is fact. All that will happen after May 22 is that more people will be given the right to marry if they choose to do so. That’s all. Marriage equality will not take anything from my marriage, it will only add to it.
- Telling people they should be happy with civil partnership is like telling them to sit at the back of the bus. Currently there are 160 legal differences between civil partnership and marriage – it’s not fair and it’s not good enough. It’s second best. I wouldn’t choose it for myself, so why should I impose it on others?
- No campaigners talk about ‘redefining marriage’ as if it’s a bad thing. In my eyes, it’s not and frankly, marriage has been redefined about a bajillion times before. In days of yore marriage meant that your husband owned you. You were literally his property. Marriage used to mean that if you worked in the civil service you had to give up your job once you walked down the aisle. It used to mean that your husband could rape you, and nothing could be done about it. Thankfully, marriage doesn’t mean those things anymore because – you’ve guessed it – it was redefined. The meaning of marriage, the laws behind marriage have all grown and changed and evolved as society has evolved. And this latest move, to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples is another chapter in that evolution. If voting Yes on May 22 means that marriage gets redefined to be more inclusive, then fuck it, redefine it.
- Allowing same-sex couples to marry will mean more security for children. Currently the children of LGBT parents live with a lot of uncertainty. There are questions over guardianship and succession rights that don’t arise for the children of opposite sex married couples. These very real children exist today in limbo and they deserve to be catered for.
- It’s the only fair way to vote. If you vote No you’re saying that you think LGBT people don’t deserve the right to marry. You’re saying that they’re not equal to you. You’re saying that they’re second class citizens. You’re saying that you don’t care about them and their welfare. And when it comes down to the bare bones of it, you’re saying you don’t care about marriage. Marriage will only continue to thrive and to grow and to sustain if it is open to everybody. The more sectors of society we cut off from marriage, the weaker it will get.
I’m not a lawyer or a human rights expert, I’m just an ordinary woman with a blog, so perhaps I’ve oversimplified above or made mistakes, perhaps I haven’t grasped the legal situation correctly, but here’s the thing – I don’t care. No doubt there’s a No campaigner waiting in the wings to tell me how wrong I am, but I’m not interested.
When it comes down to it, this referendum is simply about extending civil marriage to same-sex couples. It’s about love and fairness and equality. Everything else is just noise.
Vote for love. Vote Yes on May 22.
For more information visit Yes Equality, the Campaign for Civil Marriage Equality
FOR as long as I can remember, every Valentine’s Day my Dad gave my Mam a bunch of flowers and a card signed ‘Love from, Guess Who?’
He’d secret both somewhere around the house when she wasn’t looking and wait for her to find them, teasing her about her secret admirer. It started as a joke, something to amuse her and us and then became a tradition, something he did every single year without fail.
Even his last year, three days before he died, he managed to scrawl a card for her and share the joke.
That last Valentine’s Day card is as precious to my Mam as the most expensive diamond – it is irreplaceable.
The past two Valentine’s Days have been bittersweet, coming just days before his anniversary and reminding us of that last card, that last joke, that last symbol of a lifetime of love and fidelity.
But there are dozens of happy memories of other Valentine’s Days too and for me, the way my parents always celebrated the day, has served as a great example of what it’s all about.
It’s not just about presents or cards or expensive trinkets. It’s not about conforming or buying something for a lover because you have to or it’s expected of you.
People often say that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, something invented to get us to spend yet more money on things we don’t need and to a certain extent, they’re right.
But for me, and for my parents, Valentine’s Day is about taking a moment out of your busy life to remind yourself how much you love this other person. It’s about taking a breath. It’s about reconnecting.
Yes, we should all be telling each other we love one another, every day of the week. We should be whisking our lovers off for romantic weekends all year round. Special breakfasts should be made on any oul rainy Saturday, not just on Valentine’s Day. All of that is true.
The reality however, is that when you are bogged down in life – in your job, the bills, the kids – it often simply just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t.
You love one another, of course you do. But finding the time and taking the time to demonstrate it, can often be hard.
And for me, that’s where Valentine’s Day comes in and has its place. It’s simply a reminder, a little nudge for us to show our appreciation for each other.
Valentine’s Day is only as expensive and as commercial as you make it. For me it’s about love and reconnecting with those I love, and what’s wrong with that?