TREAD SOFTLY BECAUSE YOU TREAD ON A DREAM – VOTE YES IN MAY
The forthcoming referendum on marriage equality offers a new generation of citizens the opportunity to have their values enshrined in the Irish constitution. As it stands at the moment, the Constitution endorses a narrow faith-based definition of marriage rather than a definition that recognises the human and civil rights of all.
For too long Irish society has been managed by an unholy alliance of Church and State; there was only one way, the Catholic way. There was no consideration given to the great mystery of how a human being, in its different shapes and forms, like a sturdy tree, evolves, grows and flourishes. The constitution is not written in stone, but is a living document which should reflect the aspirations of all the citizens of the country. This referendum is not about sexuality; it is about equality under the constitution – a hard fought for republican constitution which embraces the grand idea that no single individual nor institution should have domination. It is time for the institutional Catholic Church and its supporters to realize that they can no longer expect their brand of virtue to be foisted upon others. The relationship between citizens, their faith, their religion, their spirituality, their God and indeed their marriage choices are personal ones and our constitution must change now to protect the expression of those choices.
It is not surprising that those who, for centuries, have held a monopoly on what is deemed to be moral would be scared of change. After all, religion and religious organisations have always been in the business of the religious business and sought to keep their customers loyal by whatever means possible – means ranging from burning at the stake to forced adoptions, destruction of family life, excommunication etc. Those of us who have lived here long enough know too well the damage done when people are ruled by fear, exclusion, punishment and penalty.
God never failed anyone that I know who believes in God or a God, but I know tens of thousands of people who have walked away from the Catholic Church because they were betrayed, because they were let down, because they were damaged, because the Irish church was wrong. There are many still whom I meet on a regular basis who are hurt, disappointed and who continue to go to church only to pray for answers and solutions to the decline of their church and to ease their own personal hurt and confusion about the behaviour of some members of the catholic clergy and of the church leadership.
If we don’t mature and become responsible citizens and go out in May and create a document that is fit for purpose, well then we all fall back. Things are changing in Ireland; they have been for some time and a “yes” vote will acknowledge and claim that change. We don’t lose anything by voting YES. We gain. Irish society gains. The constitution is a statement of our aspirations and many of us want Ireland to be a place where all our citizens can grow and flourish. This is not a black and white issue about sexuality and sexual identity. It’s not even a moral issue. It’s an issue of legal and constitutional right and the freedom to express that right and for that right to be protected under the constitution.
Changing the constitution is what gives it life. It is not a dusty old document under glass in a controlled atmosphere in some museum. The constitution of Ireland is a flesh and blood document that lives and breathes alongside and with us. It is the document from which our legislation flows and the laws of this republic should never endorse inequality in any shape or form. It must give equal opportunity to all. No exceptions. The present Government are to be commended for bringing this referendum forward, but it is worth bearing in mind that it is highly unlikely that they would present the Irish public with an amendment to the constitution that is going to threaten our way of life in any shape or form. I will be supporting the change to the constitution and I call on my fellow artists and all those in the cultural community to support an end to discrimination and exclusion. Equality now and always, till death do us part.