Ireland votes on same-sex marriage

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Frustratingly, Ireland is one of the few European countries where you cannot vote if you’re away from the country (either via post, or via an embassy), so I wont’ be able to vote in this. A substantial number of young Irish people are currently scattered around the globe, the great majority of whom would be voting Yes I’m guessing. Hopefully the pollsters haven’t gotten this as wrong as they got the UK election, there’s sure to be a certain number of ‘shy-nos’ amongst those polled, hopefully it’s not too much. Luckily there’s also been a big surge in first time electoral registrations, should be enough to counter any swing to the no side.


we still have to put up with shit like this unfortunately…

It’s good that Ireland is probably going to have marriage equality, and it’s good that Irish people are showing broad support for it, but I don’t get why we keep talking about the referendum aspect like it’s a good thing.

Just asking people the question implies that it would be acceptable for them to say “no”, but it’s not up to anyone else to say what rights I should have. There are lots of places where the public would say “no”, and it would be a bad thing if those places put it to the vote.

As I understand it there are technical reasons it has to be done this way in Ireland, but let’s not hold it up as the right way to do things. Lawmakers should have the guts to do the right thing whether it offends people’s prejudices or not.


It’s not just ‘technical reasons’, the Irish constitution is currently preventing equal marriage, therefore a referendum is required. Ideally marriage shouldn’t be in the constitution at all IMO (I don’t see marriage as a human right), an equal rights amendment that would enforce equality with any marriage legislation should be enough (we already have one, article 40, though it could be beefed up a bit to ensure no discriminatory legislation can be passed), but marriage is in there (contradicting article 40), so we have no choice.

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When an amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage was put on the ballot in the state where I live I voted against it even though, like you, I knew it wasn’t something that should have been subject to a vote in the first place.

What I found most interesting in the reporting on Ireland’s vote is a story I heard earlier this week on the radio. A politician who is part of the “No” campaign said that several people had come up to him and told him, quietly, that they’d be voting “No” too but that they were afraid to come out and say so.

Maybe I’m just unusually introspective but if I’m afraid to go public with my opinion about something that makes me think about whether I’m mistaken.

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People are afraid to express their opinions when they are against the amendment. I do believe that is true and the polls (which have been largely 70%in favour for a long time) will be significantly wrong. They are afraid of expressing it though because they know most people disapprove of homophobia. It’s just standard conservative rhetoric from that position to find a way to make the conservative the victim.

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I’m not sure that is actually the case. I think this could have been done by legislation but the government wanted a big progressive public win to appease the voters who feel cheated by the usual far right neoliberal, authoritarian, “austerity” politics that they are engaged in. I think any possible interpretative ambiguity would have been better dealt with by the removal of all references to god and to some of the anti woman cant that the text is padded with. But this was a non-runner with the far right, socially liberal, authoritarian Fine Gael party which is the lead party in the government. The Labour Party had rather hung it’s hopes on wholesale constitutional reform but to commit to that would expose FG to its own internal tensions: the catholic wing isn’t very right wing and they need their support (old people=votes) and the non-catholic socially liberal end of the party are far right wing and would struggle for popularity.

Anyway, all parties in parliament support this. Apart from a fringe splinter group of ex fine gaelers who refuse to say (though the party leader is voting yes).

Any attempt to legislate without constitutional change would certainly be met with a high-court action, but it wouldn’t be guaranteed to be struck down, there’s enough ambiguity in article 41. I think it’s definitely better to go the constitutional route, just to be safe, and to ensure non-discrimination is enshrined at a more fundamental level and not left to the whims of lawmakers in the future. Though I agree a broader reform of the constitution is needed, this will have to do for the time being.

lol at FG being far-right btw, Ireland thankfully doesn’t have a far right party.

Who would have locus standi under what circumstances to challenge any putative law?

I am assuming the actual result will be closer than the polls, as happened in the divorce referendum (and the recent UK general election) because people can’t admit how they plan to vote, even to a pollster they’ll never see or hear from again. To me that’s good enough to prove in court that they think their own actions are shameful.

So if that discrepancy is big enough that the “no” vote wins today, the message to gay people will be “sorry, you don’t get full recognition as a person, because a bunch of people said so even though they knew it was wrong”. That would hurt a lot more than just having the politicians of the day to blame.

Any married citizen could bring a case that the law devalues their marriage as described under the constitution.

Firstly they couldn’t on those grounds as it is not specific enough a harm to grant locus standi, see the Crotty case for a much stronger argument being laughed out of court. Secondly marriage is not currently defined in the constitution.

I asked a qualified solicitor friend of mine and he seems to think that argument would work, not that he agrees with it, or that the high-court judge would necessarily buy his arguments, but that it would be enough to satisfy the locus standi aspect.

It’s not defined explicitly, but it does say this:

3 1° The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

It’s not defined at all.

You can never guess just how far a judge will go but in general the courts,properly, avoid constitutional adjudication if possible and denying locus standi is the most convenient way of doing that. To have a serious chance you would need a situation where concrete harm occurred. For example if something was only available to married couples and limited and a same sex couple got it and the complainant didn’t. I can’t think what that situation might be.

I don’t think an amendment was necessary or advisable. Just like getting rid of blasphemy, which is a possibility now just because a Muslim said they would consider using Irish law, it was pretty cheap populism rather than solving fundamental issues with the text: the insertion of God bothering in the first place.

Here is the current version of that map:

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I suppose it’s too much to expect them to recognize the irony, if only because then it wouldn’t be irony.


It’s gonna be a fucking landslide! Yesssssssss!

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@beschizza You should change the headline to “Ireland votes FOR same-sex marriage. Overwhelmingly”

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I wonder what the reaction of the US conservative circles, those who were funneling money to the NO side of the campaign, will be…

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