Ireland Proudly Says Yes

Today the votes cast in Ireland for same-sex marriage were counted.  The sun shone and there was a giddy atmosphere early on as it began to emerge that support for the proposed amendment to the Constitution was going to be approved by a substantial margin. This had been prefigured by the large turnout in Dublin and other areas.

And as the result looked increasingly secure, you had the sense that Ireland had just done something very significant, very liberating and very historic.

It was not simply that Ireland had become the first country in the world to endorse same-sex marriage by public plebiscite. It was that Ireland was reshaping its future, free of imperatives rooted in the past.

And helping to shape that was a whole drove of newly registered voters, mobilization across the board but particulalry among the young, and, movingly, those emigrants who came home to vote, sensing that this plebiscite could and should be seismic. So it proved to be.

The censorious, Catholic, secretive, and occasionally cruel management of intimate human relationships that characterised Ireland since independence was consigned to history. In our fast evolving debate with our past, the present had just won a signal victory.

In a way that was as profound as it was personal, on 22 May 2015 Ireland became a republic in the fullest sense of the term; a polity of citizens, in all their variety, equal before the law.

It has of course been a long time coming and there have been milestones along the way, not least approval for divorce. However, that does not detract from the revolution that the passage of this constitutional change represents. For our Constitution dates back to 1937 and had been crafted by Éamon de Valera for a Catholic country.

Like all constitutions, it stands for what we are or at least what we say we are. As such, the document has been a battleground on issues of intimate human relationships; the role of women, the nature of family, conception and the unborn, the rights of women to control their own bodies, and divorce.

Into this national document, the Irish public in their wisdom and humanity have placed same-sex marriage. The sense of relief and the joy of acceptance by gays in Ireland has been as palpable as it has been touching.

With this powerful endorsement, gay pride is Irish pride.

Eamonn

Eamonn McKee

Tel Aviv

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