While we fight directly against advocates of a No vote in the marriage equality referendum, we run the risk of losing sight of what we are actually fighting for, says Rob Buchanan.
I feel a sense of dread when I see the sheer volume of newspaper column inches dedicated to the rhetoric of certain anti-equality advocates. The only thing that surprises me more than their tireless peddling of irrational bullshit is the massive energy of some of us for churning through and responding to it all.
But do we really need to answer every negative? It’s exhausting, not only for ourselves, but for swing voters who are at the risk of experiencing referendum fatigue. I am not suggesting they might get be bored with us asking for our rights, but I worry that they will become irritated by and perhaps disillusioned with our perpetual expressions of offense.
Instead of engaging with these No campaigners at every turn, we should be giving them enough rope to hang themselves with, and at the same time we should trust that the Irish people are able to spot injustice, outrageously offensive statements, and outmoded beliefs for what they are.
The No side want us to be angry, offended and defensive, and all our outrage is playing in to their hands.
While we fight against them, we run the risk of losing sight of what we are actually fighting for. Instead of spreading the word about love, equality and family, we are wasting our time defending ourselves. This muddying of waters is turning the Marriage Equality Show in to Mothers and Fathers Matter Show, with the latter’s representatives being turned into household names. These spokespeople are cleverly characterising themselves as besieged victims, even as they rally for a vote that will actively discriminate against a section of our society. We must not allow them the victim status they seek to carve for themselves through blatant manipulation.
They are trying to highjack our cause to gain a foothold for right-wing Catholic fundamentalism in modern Irish society, acting as parasites on the most noble Irish civil rights campaign since the Easter Rising. And we can be sure that in the final days before the referendum there is no depth they will not sink to; no dirty trick or media snare they will not try and lure us in to.
Our attention is like oxygen to their fire, and it’s time to suffocate their unjust cause. Our cause speaks for itself. It is about love, about family. It is about making this country a fairer and more loving place for this generation and all that are to follow.
Leave Them Be
If you encounter people who are steadfastly in the ‘No’ camp, there is little you can do to change their minds. Leave those people be, there is little you will be able to do to sway their opinions.
If you encounter people who say they are uncertain about their vote, then simply invite them to consider how your happiness and your marriage might effect their lives detrimentally. If they say, ‘Well, you have civil partnership, don’t you?’, ask them how they might feel about trading their marriage for a civil partnership. Let them know that whether they vote ‘yes’ or not it won’t change their lives, but it will change yours. They can join the dots.
We have the human heart and justice on our sides. Anyone can be LGBT; anyone can have an LGBT child. Very few people really believe that inequality is fair when it’s no longer an abstraction in the media, when instead it’s a real life LGBT person face-to-face with them. Make every relationship you have count. Each one of us is an ambassador for equality. Any air time we have, be it in the media, at the office water cooler or in the company of our neighbours, communities, families and friends, should be primarily about what a Yes vote will mean to us as individuals.
It will serve equality far better if we are a ‘Yes’ campaign rather than an ‘Anti-No’ campaign.
© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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