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Civil unions… April 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics.

…I wonder if that would have been better ground for the No camp to base their critique on the marriage equality referendum on – which they sort of do with one poster. It’s not particularly pleasant but it would be quite logical. As the SBP notes:

Analysis by a team of political scientists, who are collaborating with The Sunday Business Post on polling research for the duration of the campaign, suggests that the contest is likely to be much closer that the voting intention polls suggest.
Some 46 per cent of voters feel that, as gay couples have access to civil partnerships, there is “no need to go further and completely change the definition of marriage”.
The poll was carried out among more than 1,000 voters nationwide last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The details of the research by Professor David Farrell (UCD), Dr Jane Suiter (DCU) and Dr Theresa Reidy (UCC) are fascinating. The study asked for responses to the following contentions:

• Change is welcome, but we are going too far nowadays and undermining traditional society.
• Same-sex couples can enter state-recognised civil partnerships. There is no need to go further and completely change the definition of marriage.
• Children have always been central to marriage. It is inappropriate for children to be raised by gay couples.


There is no doubt that a large swathe of the population who agree with these statements will be voting No on May 22. But what about those who say they’re going to vote Yes? What do they think?

The results are:

The data reveals that 37 per cent of those in favour of marriage equality think that it is inappropriate for children to be raised by gay couples; 54 per cent of those voting Yes think that change has gone far enough; and 51 per cent of those who favour marriage equality actually feel that there is no need to change the definition of marriage!

There is clearly some cognitive dissonance. And yet, this doesn’t spell disaster, it is entirely possible for people to hold contradictory views on matters. Or to think that there is an element of truth to some of the above contentions without feeling that they are bound or limited by them. For example, change on these issues has occurred in the context of broader societal changes, very rapidly.
Or not to have fully thought through them. The authors of the report are very cautious, and rightly so, as to the outcome. My own feeling is it should pass, given the polls. But…


1. Gabriel Bonnar - April 30, 2015

There could be a lot of silent No voters out there, but the numbers are difficult to gauge because of the polite silence. Communist governments in East Germany, Cuba, the Soviet Union and contemporary China adopted a puritan disdain towards homosexuality between males. Many convicted men were sent to the Gulag and to Cuban prisons. British delegates to a world youth festival held in East Berlin in the mid-1970s were forcibly prevented from carrying a gay liberation banner in a march through the streets at the beginning of the festival. China’s marriage law was enacted in 1950, a year after Mao came to power, and the law was updated in 1981. Communist equality between men and women is one part of that law; Confucian traditions about ‘harmony’ and responsibility for ageing grandparents is another part. There is no concept of same-sex marriage in the Confucian tradition. Communist governments have never entertained that concept either. So are there any older generation Irish communists who have reservations about Marriage Equality?


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2015

I’d wonder what generation that would be though. I think that once we hit the 1970s/1980s there was a considerable shift. Just as a local example I was looking at some SFWP materials someone donated to the Archive and IIRC there was mention of gay rights in them in a supportive way. So it’s not exactly new and for anyone in their thirties then they’d now be in their sixties and over. Never heard of the CPI having any issue with it, friends of mine from the IS and other Trotskyist groups of that generation would be strongly supportive as well. Now Aubane etc… well now, that’s a different story.


2. Joe - April 30, 2015

Yeah, it should pass but… A niggling worry. No voters are going to be silent, not engage much in debate on it. It’s just… how many are they? How much has Irish society moved on? When it was rumoured that Cork hurling keeper Dónal Óg Cusack might be gay, some Tipperary supporters spent a whole game behind his goal with a megaphone slagging him off with crude homophobic taunts. And nobody said boo to them. Not so long ago at all.
On another thread CMK mentioned the anti-water ‘Says No’ groups. Some of those people believe in anti-truth crap about chem trails and vaccinations and radioactive water meters.
So add up the traditionalists, conservatives, religious bigots, plain people of Ireland who’ll stay quiet but vote no and the anti-truth loopers.
It’s gonna be close.


3. irishelectionliterature - April 30, 2015

It will be won on turnout, what we really need is a poll to say the No side is closing the gap considerably. That might push people out to vote Yes.
As I’ve said before… the polls and seeing that everyone in your own social circle and possibly the celebs etc you admire are all for a Yes vote may lead to some complacency as “its bound to pass”.
There were plenty of No voters in Limerick last night on Vincent Browne and talked to a number of No voters who were quietly canvassing at the FF Ard Fheis.
The Yes side needs to keep knocking on doors (has anyone been canvassed door to door by the No side yet?) and make sure people get out and vote.
I’m also concerned that the loons on the No side (and there are plenty of them) are making people say they are undecided in the polls.


Mark P - April 30, 2015

It would be a brave and stupid No campaigner who decided to go knocking on doors around these parts.


Alibaba - April 30, 2015

“It will be won on turnout”. I agree strongly. I am mindful of a referendum in 2002. It was proposed to reverse the decision in the X case by ruling out suicide risk as a ground for abortion. Following extensive campaigning by progressive forces in society, this attempt to roll back the X case was defeated. Turnout was the key issue: it was 42.8 per cent of the electorate, 49.6 per cent voted Yes and 50.4 per cent voted No. Similarly, the turnout was small in the Divorce referendum in 1995 and it was passed by a tiny figure.

To this very day the power of the catholic church is deeply entrenched in the educational system, health system and in so many areas. And all this despite the decades of revelations about abuses of power exercised by church agents and subsequent disillusionment with organised religion. The spectre of fear still haunts us and we’ve seen it exposed once again in those misleading Vote No posters which are used to generate confusion, disgust and ultimately prejudice. I am far from confident about winning. That said, if young people turn out to vote, it will be a winner.


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2015

It’s interesting that on both divorce (1996) and the 2002 25th Amendment the difference was less than 1 per cent.


CMK - April 30, 2015

10,000s of young people not even registered to vote; deadline is 5 May. Putting too many eggs in the ‘young people’ basket might not be that prudent.

A gay FB friend of mine says he’s going to emigrate if it’s a ‘No’.

It will be close, there is an anti-political nihilism out there which the ‘No’ side can capitalise on.

The anti-government ‘Yes’ side have a hard argument to make: ‘we know you want to hit back at the government, but don’t use this referendum to do so.’


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2015

It definitely needs broad based support.


4. Mark P - April 30, 2015

I remain somewhat dubious about the Yes people convincing themselves that the vote is going to be close. It makes a certain amount of sense from a get out of the vote / no complacency perspective, but much of it seems to me to be based on a failure to understand how much Irish society has changed.

The religious conservatives won every referendum up until 1986. They haven’t won one since and with or without referendums they have been on the losing side in general on social issue after social issue. There just isn’t a large enough constituency left for them to win unless there’s some other section of the voting population “in play” for some other reason.

In this context, the only chance of the referendum failing to pass is if there’s an incoherently furious anti-government vote over a certain size, which could then be added to the socially conservative core. Which is why the best thing that Fine Gael and Labour could do for marriage equality is go into hiding for the fortnight before the vote.

Of course, if the worst does happen, our political elite will learn precisely the wrong lesson and decide that the religious right are still too terrifying to take on. To a large extent that strikes me as the main strategic concern of the smarter hardline conservatives – quite a number of them while being entirely sincere in their homophobia regard it as a relatively minor issue as compared to abortion. Putting the fear of God (sorry) into the establishment for many of them is centrally about protecting the 8th Amendment.


5. Jolly Red Giant - April 30, 2015

What is the most noticable factor of the campaign to me is the engagement of young people on the Yes side. The campign for young people to discuss the issue with older family members and persuade them to vote Yes has been, from what I can see, very effective. In my local school a group of girls are running a campaign in the school to sign up any students over 18 to register them to vote and are encouraging students to discuss with family members and persuade them to vote for the ammendment. This has happened much to the distain of the school’s patron, Board of Management and chaplin – it has not deterred their campaign.

I view this as a very positive development and a demonstration of the increased politicisation of young people that encompasses the constitutional ammendment, water charges (and students are openly declaring that their parents will boycott the charge – younger students in particular are viewing this as a badge of honour) and the wider anti-austerity mood that has developed.


6. Tomboktu - April 30, 2015

Queues of students in DIT two weeks ago to register to vote, and again yesterday in UL. And that’s on top of the 40,000 USI got on the register last October. Something significant is happening, and it’s not because they want one of their own to run for the Áras, though I don’t know how the numbers will stack up.


7. dublinstreams - April 30, 2015

i noticed some people giving out that these questions were even asked by the SBP/RedC, but as the authors point out you have to see where the hesitations may be.


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2015

I tend to agree with you.


8. Tomboktu - April 30, 2015

One of the co-chairs of the Yes Equality campaign made this observation this evening:


dublinstreams - May 1, 2015

he would say that wouldn’t s/he


9. Tomboktu - May 1, 2015

And then when I get home, I read this:

And this:


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