Exciting times! Tomorrow Friday May 22nd is decision day in Ireland. Two referenda will be decided:
The Marriage Referendum and The Age of Presidential Candidates Referendum (for information see here)
With the marriage referendum Ireland becomes the first country in the world to have marriage equality decided by popular vote. Now while I don't think that human rights should be decided by vote I am still incredibly excited to think that Ireland has the chance as a country and a people to declare to the world that WE CHOOSE equality, it won't be "foisted" on us by court decision or decided by the Dail (the Irish parliament) but rather the people have the chance to say THIS IS OUR CHOICE loud and proud!
Of course the corollary of that is that if the referendum is rejected by those openly opposed and "shy" no voters (all the polls point to a yes decision) then how saddened and disappointed in our country will those of us who support equal rights be. Despite the overwhelming support that I see for the referendum in traditional and social media and personal messages the nagging fear remains that despite appearances perhaps Ireland hasn't really changed all that much after all - how glorious it would be to have that fear dispelled!
Of course while the Marriage Referendum is (quite rightly) getting the vast majority of the press Irish people are also being asked to decide whether or not to lower the age requirement for presidential candidates from 35 to 21. This question hasn't raised the level of passion or debate (or for that matter interest) that the marriage equality referendum has but since we (and I still say we even though I no longer have a vote by dint of living outside of Ireland) have been asked it I think we should be considering it carefully.
I have seen arguments that those under 35 are not mature enough or would not comport themselves with the dignity that a head of state requires and my response is that if you don't feel a candidate is suitable for the job then don't vote for them. Surely increasing and extending equality as far as we can is a good thing? It seems a shame to me to hear ardent supports of the marriage referendum turn around and use the same arguments that have in the past been used against women, the poor and minorities against younger adults!
Anyway that is my 2 cent, wish I could get back to vote!