I felt like crying.
I was angry and upset and mortified.
It was the cold, dull aftermath of a hugely divisive referendum and my side of the debate had lost. Not just lost, my side of the debate had been buried under a landslide.
It felt horrible. It felt personal. It felt crushingly unfair and – big as I am and ugly as I am – I felt close to tears at the sheer injustice of it.
Cliché though it is, I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed of my country.
I wasn’t alone, though I felt horribly alone. One of the most interesting journalists in the country at the time wrote in his Irish Times column that he was sickened to be Irish. In a heartfelt piece, he said he was disgusted that his country had chosen to be so cruel, so selfish and so utterly heartless. Witheringly, he said he had thought we were better than this.
What was worst, for me, was the realisation that this is how low, how petty, how despicable a people we are.
This isn’t some dire, apocalyptic warning of what Saturday will feel like if you don’t make damn full sure that you – and everyone else you know – get to the polling station on Friday and vote for marriage equality.
This was 2004 and we had voted in the Twenty-Seventh Amendment – by a stunning 80% of an unusually-high 60% turnout – that babies born in Ireland would no longer necessarily by Irish.
I’ve written about this before and suffice to say that, eleven years on, I’m still sick to my stomach by what we did that shameful day. Oh, and that journalist who (rightly) condemned us for our lack of generosity and kindness?
You’d never believe it now, now that he has become an Old Testament parody of himself, wild-eyed and permanently-enraged, seeing father-denying misandrists in every shadow and ranting about gay people parodying marriage, but there was a time when John Waters was on our side.
Yes, of course I wrote this because I’m absolutely terrified we’ll lose on Friday.
Take that 17% to 23% Don’t Know in current opinion polls and stitch it on to the NO vote. I’ve been canvassing for a YES a little while now and every Don’t Know I’ve met, I’ve asked them “Well, do you have any questions or worries?” Not one of them had an actual question. Which suggests to me that they are either shy NO votes or – worse – they genuinely don’t give a damn.
So it’s an awful lot closer than we think and every single YES will count. This will be decided on turnout and, as Colm O’Gorman has repeatedly said, if you don’t vote, you’re voting NO.
I have gay friends and I would be devastated if we told them we think them lesser citizens whose love is less than ours.
Imagine how they will feel.
Here. Have Three Little Words.
Please vote and please vote YES.
Getting a chill remembering this. Well said.
Marriage is a human instinct.
It emphasizes the love,it confirms the ability to move forward together.
Confirm acceptance of whatever the life has changed in us.
I completely agree Donal, I’m terrified of what Saturday morning will bring. I fear people won’t bother to vote.