A Twibbon Is Not A Vote

Equality Conversation

Complacency, voter apathy and good old-fashioned laziness will lose this vote, says Patricia Kennedy, so get off Facebook and get talking face-to-face.


A Facebook friend commented on a post about the episode of RTÉ’s Don’t Tell the Bride (broadcast March 19), featuring Nora Dennehy and her partner Katriona Hourihan. So I found myself scanning the comments, happy to see that most were overwhelmingly positive. Then I hit on one with the old chestnut – “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”.

Actually, if you believe in creationism, God made everything – Adam, Eve, Steve, even the snake – but that’s another day’s argument. What’s interesting about this comment is that it came from someone with a YES Equality 2015 Twibbon on their profile picture. This was in mid-March, she was an early’ish adopter too. When challenged about the mismatch between her attitude and her profile pic, she dismissed it as something her “bi” sister posted. Her profile pic was quickly changed to a different one, sans Twibbon.

Social media is great, and it’s wonderful to see so many people using this mechanism to show their support for a yes vote, but Twibbons and tweets won’t win this referendum. The greatest risk we face as the referendum looms ever closer is complacency. The majority of Irish people don’t care who gets married, but unfortunately that also means they may not care enough to go and vote on the day. We face a well-oiled opposition and this is a battle they desperately do not want to lose.

Smack In The Face

For us losing this referendum will be a smack in the face, and it sends the worst possible message to young Irish teens trying to find their way in this world. This referendum is emotional. This is about us, and us being perceived as equal Irish citizens by our friends, family, colleagues and communities.

This is not the Lisbon treaty, there will be no European Union demanding a revote if it doesn’t go our way. We will wait a very long time for this to be re-run. So with less than two weeks to go, it’s up to us, every single one of us to make it happen. We need to ask the people we know to vote Yes, and ask them to ask their friends to vote Yes. It’s that simple.

The passing of time makes it easy to forget that when Senator David Norris and Mary Robinson won their case in Europe it took another five years before legislation was changed in Ireland. The then Justice Minister Máire Geoghegan-Quinn cites meeting the mother of a young gay man, and hearing that personal story, as the moment that brought home to her the positive impact that decriminalisation would have. This referendum is deeply personal – we need to let voters know that. Every person casting their vote needs to know that a Yes is going to have a positive impact on someone they know.

We Have To Be Visible

We need to reach every voter in Ireland. Us. You and me need to do that. We can’t rely on Marriage Equality, or GLEN, or even Panti, to do this for us. The professional gays can’t win this battle on their own. Blogger Damien Mulley has a strap line: “Invisible People have Invisible Rights”. It seems particularly apt for this campaign. If we want rights, we have to be visible.

Join your local Yes Equality canvass team, check www.yesequality.ie/canvass to find your nearest, if there isn’t one, create one. Don’t worry about having to argue with the haters – this isn’t about trying to convert No voters. If the polls are accurate, the numbers are on our side, this is about making sure that everyone who says Yes, actually gets out and votes Yes. Complacency, voter apathy and good old-fashioned laziness will lose this vote.

Get off social media, get out, get talking, and be visible. Engage the people around you.

Each of us needs to wake up the morning after the referendum and know in our hearts that there was absolutely nothing else we could have done to persuade the people we know, and the people they know, to vote Yes.



© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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