We met them on the street. We met them at their doors. The No voters.
Not just any No voter, no, these were the ones who tried to convince you that voting Yes was wrong. You’d listen politely, and engage even though you just wanted to walk away from this one.
These were the No voters who no matter what you said they were never going to change their minds. No matter what literature they had access to or what debates they heard on the TV or the radio they were never going to change their minds.
These were the people who were No voters before there was ever a Civil Marriage Referendum.
These were and are the people who truly believe that being Homosexual is in some way against their religion and beliefs. Oh they have no problem with being told that if God created people he/she also created LGBT people. No, it isn’t the being born this way that they disagree with, it is the living outside of their Catholic beliefs that they have a problem with.
It’s as simple as you must remain a virgin until you get married, to a member of the opposite sex, in the Catholic Church. This is their belief. And I was told ‘plenty of people remain virgins until their wedding nights too!’.
They believe in an afterlife, and believe that if they don’t abide by the Catholic Churchs laws they will not get into Heaven. A simple way to live – virgin – marriage – heaven.
It is as simple as that!
So you see no matter what argument you try to give back they won’t listen. It is against God and the Catholic Churchs teachings.
One such No voter, a 62 year old woman, who phoned me today, told me she voted No because she didn’t think two men should be allowed rear little girls. I replied with the usual, even explaining that even though my fiancee and I are rearing two boys that our gender will make no difference to their upbringing. That I can do the sex ed. talks and even teach them to shave! That two men, or one man, or one woman will make no difference once the kids are being brought up in a loving home. It made no difference. ‘Oh I don’t have a problem with two women but two men just isn’t right’. I said that was in her own experience of fathers, what if her own husband had to bring up her children alone? wouldn’t he have enough help, if he needed, from female relatives? That it would be ok to rear girls? She had no comment.
She had run out of ammo so she started preaching to me about the ‘virgin – marriage – heaven’ excuse and God.
She spoke in roundabouts, not making much sense after that. But suffice to say she voted No to save us from ourselves, or really she voted No to save herself. Such is her religious beliefs that she thinks that voting No was the best of the two options for furthering her advances into getting into Heaven.
She asked me how would I have felt if it had been a no, I told her I would have felt rejected. She had no comment to that.
Our conversation ended with her giving out about two of her children having children outside of marriage and how awfully sad it was.
I told her we had to agree to disagree.
We said our goodbyes and I hung up my phone, and broke down crying.
I have canvassed on the street and have gone from door to door the past couple of weeks and yes, I have been upset by some of the nasty comments made by No voters along the way, but this one was the most upsetting conversation of all.
Why? because it was with my mother.
I knew my mother would probably vote No because she is a strict Catholic, but last week I had written a letter to both my parents outlining the reasons why it would be a good thing to vote yes, not just for me and my gf but also for my sons, their grandsons.
I put down on paper all about my teenage years, and the confusion I had to deal with around my sexuality as a young adult. I explained how I eventually came out to myself after I had separated from my sons Dad. I argued every red herring the No campaign had put out in the media, and even went over their Bishops pastoral letter and picked the holes throughout it.
I poured my heart out in that letter, something I could not have done in person without getting emotional or without my mother interrupting me. Both my parents read that letter and they still voted no on Friday.
Even though 63% of Ireland voted in favour of equal civil marriage the fact is that my own parents didn’t want it for me. I feel totally rejected by them and it breaks my heart that their own daughter was not their top priority when voting on Friday. My happiness came second to their religious beliefs.
I am sure I am not the only openly gay person who is feeling the way I do this evening. I am sure there are LGBT people all over Ireland who have close relatives or friends who voted No and had the audacity to tell them they did so too.
So I am going to remind myself of something wonderfully positive that happened (and anyone feeling let down today should do this too). Our elderly neighbour rang us at 10 am yesterday morning in squeals of delight congratulating us on what looked like a win for the Yes campaign. She was so happy for us and rang as soon as she heard the updates on the radio, ‘I’m so happy for ye you’d think it was for myself!!’.
So I am going to focus on the positives of this Referendum and not worry about two less names on the wedding guest list – sure haven’t we a wonderful neighbour to invite instead!!