This following is a speech made by Grace Dyas at our Let’s Make History campaign launch outside the GPO on O’ Connell Street, 22-03-15.
I am a straight woman.
I live in Dublin with my partner, Martin Sharry.
I love him.
I want to marry him.
On May 22nd, I will be voting yes.
I will be saying yes. For my mother, yes for my father, yes for my brother and sister. Yes for my nephews Cillian & Liam.
And, yes for me and Martin Sharry.
I’m not gonna come up here and pull out the “ALL my friends are gay” stuff.
Because it shouldn’t matter. I don’t need to know one gay person to support this referendum.
We haven’t had the opportunity to say ‘YES’ to something for a long time. Nearly 100 years ago, there was a revolution that kicked off outside this building that was all about NO. Yesterday 80,000 people took to the streets to say NO to water charges. We have been defined for 100s of years by what we are NOT. To me, this is an opportunity to declare what we ARE.
The 1937 Constitution doesn’t mean anything to me. It is an emblem of a destructive marriage which destroyed thousands of lives, the marriage of DeValera and McQuaid.The reason we are having a referendum at all is the hangover of their love affair. The marriage of church and state is a marriage that shouldn’t have happened.
The 1916 Proclamation means a lot to me. Cherishing all the children of the nation equally.I try to live my life by that vision for our country every day. Equality means a lot to me. Inequality is not inevitable. It’s man made. And we can choose to say No to that too.
I am saying yes on May 22nd on a fundamental principle of equality. Laws influence behaviour. If we have a law that says one group of people are lesser than another, we are sanctioning behaviours which treat those people as lesser by society at large.
I see this referendum as another fight in the long battle for equal rights for all citizens.
A lot of my best friends ARE gay. A lot of the people I hold dearest in my heart. I have witnessed the damage that the pervasive homophobia has caused. One of my friends was routinely threatened and abused in work last summer by a young man. He feared for his life. Another of my friends used to scald his throat each evening to give himself a deeper voice. In parts of our Island still, an LGBT young person is taking his or her own life in their hands by walking down the street at night. other parts own life
How can we call that behaviour out as wrong when we still uphold laws that make people who love people of the same gender second class citizens?
I want to get married. But how could even invite my best friend Shaun to my wedding, let alone ask him to stand beside me and be my best man, how could I rub that in face if he wasn’t afforded the same rights? How could I ask my friend Neil to sing and be happy for us if he wasn’t allowed to get married himself. Another one of my friends gives great speeches, but I couldn’t have him there either cos he’s gay. My sister Veronica is queer, I’d want her to by my side, but how could I look her in the eye?
Half of my guests would love people of the same sex, how could I in good faith be in the room with them and exercise the privilege I had that they weren’t afforded. Here do you want a slice of me cake?
The reality is I could not. If this referendum does not pass on May 22nd I won’t be able to get married.
Unfortunately, I’m told by those in the no that this is not a foregone conclusion. We need to get out there and keep talking. We need to bring this up in uncomfortable situations. We need to move beyond social media. We will need courage. It’s hard to listen to “the other side” But we can move hearts and mind with a little patience and a little reason. We need to visualise. What will feel like on May 23rd? If you wake up in a very different Ireland.
Don’t vote yes on May 22nd so that THEY can get married.
Vote yes on May 22nd so that we can ALL get married.