Lose the verbal acrobatics - marriage poll is just about fairness
Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30
In December 2013, I returned home from Australia. To my friends in Dublin I was a well-travelled, educated, well-adjusted 24-year-old with a career ahead of me and a family in my future. I had been told at every family occasion since I was a young teen that I was a "mother-in-law's dream", and that I would make a woman very happy some day.
The problem with this was that I was gay, and because my younger brother had beaten me to the chase in coming out some years previously, I was resigned to the fact that I could simply never live as the person I knew I was.
One night in January 2014, I garnered all of the Dutch courage I could and told one of my best friends that I was gay.
Over the course of a year, I agonised as I told people one by one, constantly 'risk assessing' those I told, fearing a contagion of rumour spreading in my hometown. In fact, as "Pantigate" raged on in the media, I would say this was the hardest year of keeping this now semi-secret. It's a strange thing to feel like you are being personally discussed on every news bulletin and current affairs programme.
All of the usual questions entered my head: Would I be better off in a loveless relationship with a girl? Would I be better off moving abroad again? Would I be better off dead? Finally, on the first day in January 2015, I mustered the courage to tell my parents. Their non-reaction and instant acceptance made me feel foolish for waiting so long. The gratitude I have for the love and warmth I received from close friends and family could not be adequately expressed in words.
To me, it seems like Ireland is having a "coming out" of its own.
We are inching precariously towards what we all know is right, but are afraid to move too quickly. To those considering a 'No' vote, I implore you - not a single person will lose rights and protections from a 'Yes' result. We only stand to gain as a nation.
If on May 22 the Irish people return a 'No' vote, we will not simply retain the status quo. We will stifle an entire cross-section of Irish society who had reached one of the final hurdles in their fight for equal recognition. As An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said: "It is rare that we get the chance to vote on something so unquantifiable yet transformative as love".
Lose the verbal acrobatics from this argument and it is simply about fairness.
Name and address with Editor
Negative effects of a 'Yes' vote
The Referendum Guide leaflet that I received from the Referendum Commission tells me that if the Marriage Referendum is passed, it will have, very precisely, five effects, one of which is that "The Constitutional status of marriage will remain unchanged".
However, if it is passed, a fourth clause will be added to Article 41, removing from marriage the distinction as to sex. Yet clause No 3 says that marriage is the very foundation of an teaghlach, the family, the very thing that clause no. 1 says is a unit of society that the whole people, via the State, recognise as an institution that is not only "indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State", but also one that has been in existence for several millennia, before anyone even thought of formulating any law "antecedent … to all positive law".
It was there long, long before the Ten Commandments, the Pharaohs, the Sumerians, etc. Who is pretending that during all that time there was no distinction as to sex?
Then there is clause No 2, which recognises that the common good cannot be achieved without the support that the State receives through the life of an bhean, woman, within an teaghlach - that same old family. Where does that leave a family founded on the marriage of two men?
If we put all these contradictions into Article 41, something's got to give. Far from the Commission's five effects, it will be more like the Nepalese earthquake.
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
The high-profile liberation of lobsters from a tank in a Dublin restaurant has attracted considerable media attention. Deservedly so, because, generally speaking, even the most fervent meat eaters like to think that the creatures killed for their meal are humanely dispatched.
But that can never be said of lobsters. Captive bolt pistols and other means of ensuring that animals we eat do not suffer unduly prior to their ultimate sacrifice for us are denied to lobsters. They are literally boiled alive ... a hell on earth beyond imagining.
I know many people who are committed carnivores but who shun lobster for that reason.
Similarly, a high percentage of Irish people (according to opinion polls) abhor hare coursing. They might dine on jugged hare, they may savour the flesh of that gentlest of creatures as part of some self-indulgent gourmet dish, but they take a different view of setting up a hare to be terrorised or mauled or crushed to death by competing greyhounds for human amusement.
If we can't eliminate the systematic exploitation of our fellow beings on this planet, surely we can at least make an effort to stop subjecting them to unnecessary and agonising torment.
What have animals ever done to us to deserve the horrors we inflict on them?
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Greedy public sector
The economy is beginning to recover and before one can blink, the unions are demanding money at the expense of the private sector.
The fact is that Ireland's borrowings have slowed but the debt pile is still growing at roughly 4pc a year. Furthermore, the country cannot afford infrastructure projects, with news that funds for bad roads are being used to repay motorway costs and projects such as the Cork-Limerick road are being shelved.
In response to this, the public sector unions want to stop paying for their own pensions, increase their salary and recruit more people. They also want a promise from the country to never attempt to find anyone else to do the job at a competitive price. In return for this, they promise nothing at all because they feel entitled after taking some cuts.
This ignores the fact that parts of the private sector faced the equivalent of 100pc pay cuts through redundancy.
If the Government does not cave to their demands, the public sector will shut down the country and use it as leverage against it in an election. As an example, witness Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann's recent behaviour - give us what we want or we will shut you down repeatedly.
I see the public sector as greedy children who cannot wait to get their hands back into the pockets of everyone else.