Saturday 22 October 2016

Reaction: 'I cannot begin to express my gratitude to all of my fellow citizens'

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Scott Ahearn

Published 23/05/2015 | 11:52

Scott Ahearn is a Dublin Pride Director.

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The incredibly positive indicators of a Yes vote coming through this morning is simply amazing. It’s been such a long, tough campaign, and I’ve experienced so much anxiety and stress during it, but it looks like it’s all been worthwhile. Some of the tallies suggesting 70%+ in some areas makes my heart leap. This is nothing short of a landslide.

My own home county of Tipperary was recently described as the most Catholic county in Ireland, and conversations I’ve had at home led me to believe Tipperary would vote No. Even looking at the divorce referendum 20 years ago, Tipperary was one of the highest no-voting counties. I feared the same would happen in this marriage equality referendum, that my own homeland would vote No and deny my equal access to marriage. But tallies are suggesting Tipperary will go 60/40 yes, which is more than I could ever have hoped.

Obviously this referendum centred on an amendment to Constitution - 17 little words to extend civil marriage to gay and lesbian people. But I’ve come to realise this referendum is about more than those 17 words. It’s about acceptance. It’s about the people of Ireland saying to all their gay brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours, that they see them as equal. That they accept us. That they want us to live happy and open lives.

I cannot being to express my gratitude to all of my fellow citizens who went to such efforts to cast their vote yesterday to make me an equal citizen. It’s been a truly astounding expression of the ideals of our Republic. My family and friends who canvassed with me  in the past few weeks and who cast their Yes votes yesterday have given me the greatest gift they possibly could.

Going to sleep last night, I dared to hope that I would wake to a Yes vote. But regardless of today’s outcome, I went to sleep last night in full assurance that my family love me, support me, and accept me. Nothing can take from that.

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