In Ireland we are not all born equal.

Imagine giving birth to two children,  two brothers. You fall in love with them, nourish and care for them. They are both so very precious to you. However the country which you call home says, that those two babies, your two sons, are not equal. They are not given equal rights as Irish citizens, because of who they chose to love when they grow up.

For years this country has hidden behind the Catholic Church. All wrongs were committed because the church made us do it. Unmarried mothers were put into Magdalene laundries and treated abominably. These were run by the church. However, the parents who put them in there are blameless. Children in schools were beaten and abused, but no one in the community said stop. It was the Churches fault.

The government recently decided that there will be a referendum on gay marriage in 2015. We the people of Ireland get to decide. This time we have no Church to blame for our decision. Yet every day I read more and more off the wall arguments on why we should say no. It sickens, and saddens me to think a country I love, discriminates against a large proportion of it’s population in this way.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/3569299938/">CarbonNYC</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Last November my brother got married. As with any family wedding we couldn’t wait for the big day but now months later, as I listen to this growing debate decline into school yard name calling, I pause and my thoughts go to all those who are denied this opportunity.
What must they feel each day listening to such ignorance? Their ability to rear children called into question? Their choice of partner in life deemed to be weird, unnatural, and up to not too long ago, criminal.

Falling in love, committing to each other, and then making the decision to marry or not, is something we all think about as we grow up. Do we want to marry or live together? If we decide to marry, what sort of a wedding would we like? However to know that you are not allowed to marry, forbidden by law, must be very difficult. It has to make you feel “different”.

I have two wonderful brothers. Both mean the world to me. One got married last November. The other cannot.

This brother of mine who is forbidden to marry, is an amazing character. An incredibly kind, considerate person, who has been in a relationship for seventeen years. He has stood by my side on many occasions, always at hand in times of trouble and definitely there when a good night is planned. A lifetime companion to me, and a wonderful influence on my children.  He is a godfather to my daughter, an uncle to my other children and a fantastic “little” brother to me. He is tall, right handed, green eyed and gay.
Being gay does not and should not define him.

I remember well the day he “came out” to me.
Having announced on a Wednesday that he needed to see me, as he had something very important to say, we arranged to meet that weekend. The days in between were hell, as I could only imagine, from the serious tone of his voice, that he was going to give me bad news on his health.

When we met that Saturday we decided to do what we loved to do together, go walking.
So off up the mountains we went, hand in hand most of the way. We chatted about all sorts of nothing, and all the while I waited for the big news. Wondering when he would really begin to talk to me.

After a long walk up the mountain, we then walked back down again. Still no revelation!
I was getting anxious, as we were almost back to the car park, and I had imagined what he was about to say day and night since he had first asked to meet me.
Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask, “Well, what is it?. “What is your big news, because we’ve walked all the way up that mountain, and back down again, and I’m still waiting”. Turning to look at me he looked so troubled, my heart sank. “This will change everything between us”, and then he said “I’m gay”.

As I looked at him I could feel a rush of blood to the head.
Before I could stop myself I punched his arm, hard. “What! Is that it?”, I said. I couldn’t believe all the worries I’d had, and that was all he had wanted to tell me.

However listening to him speak, I began to understand just how huge this was for him.
Being gay is not a choice he had, it was just him.
He knew that if I could not accept him being gay, then I would not have been able to accept him.
Our wonderful relationship would have been over, or at best changed forever.

As the years have passed since our walk, I think he really does accept that for me anyway, it does not in any way bother me what his sexual orientation is. No more than if he told me he was right handed, or needed to wear glasses.
It was a non event for me.

I believe whether we are gay or heterosexual is irrelevant. My love for him had nothing to do with his sexual orientation,
nor do I think it should. We are two souls who share a bond. We also happened to be brother and sister.photo credit: El

My brother is no more or less a person because he is gay. Why does it matter that he shares a life with a man?
So do I. Just like me, he loves his partner, shares a house, and does all the things couples do.
Yet because they are two men they are not permitted to marry. I just don’t get it.

So in 2015 we get the chance to right this wrong. I really hope the whole country comes out in force.
I hope the majority stand alongside my brother and his partner and say,
“We support you. This inequality is wrong,and we insist this country rights that wrong”

And just for the record, this couple may not even want to get married.
However as two Irish citizens, they should have the choice.

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc
photo credit: El

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35 thoughts on “In Ireland we are not all born equal.

  1. Beautifully written as usual ~ your two brothers make a compelling case. Marriage between same sex couples is legal in 17 of our 50 states at this point. Makes life interesting when couples cross state lines…. Anyways I am encouraged by our new Pope and perhaps is outright condemnation of same sex marriage will help…. found this quote, while not an endorsement, it is certainly a truth to live with on many issues. “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis.

    1. Yea Olivia. Thank you. I think looking as a mother at two children and imagining a future like my brothers makes us think. It would seem to be an easy decision. I just worry that the real issue will be lost as they speak of children etc.

  2. I am going to press this. I’m so sorry that you’re brother and others are dealing with that. I’m so sad that in this day and age… grrr Gay rights is hugely important to me because I want my kids to know I stood up for what is right and true. Civil rights should be important to everyone.

    I love this post and how it honors that truth. ((Hugs))

    1. Thank you so much Rebecca. Over the past few weeks I have had to listen to such ridiculous arguments about why we should vote no. To me no is wrong. It is discriminatory. It makes out that if someone is gay they are not quite right. It is a serious dishonour to an amazing brother, his partner and my other gay friends. Guess you know what I’ll be voting! 🙂

  3. I had a discussion with my son a couple of days ago. He is a very devout Christian but has decided that he is no longer entering debate on the subject because so-called “Christians” have gone so far off the rails that he is upset with the harm they are causing to other Christians and also to those who are gay. I pointed out that we have a mutual friend who is gay. He acknowledged that and replied that she is a wonderful person so how can he be deny her the same joys that he has.
    I think the issue with this is that many people don’t know anyone who is gay so they succumb to fear mongering. Once you know and love others who are ‘different’ to you, the fear dissipates.

    1. Thank you for your honesty. I am not actually against debate because I think censoring any argument is wrong but I know in my heart a persons sexual orientation is irrelevant. You are right some never know anyone who is gay, but I am sure they possibly do but that person never told them. It is great that in this country being gay is definitely becoming more acceptable, but we still have a long way to go. Fingers crossed.

  4. Scream it Tric! And good on you for punching him in the arm. 😉 One day the world of humans will look back at this time and wonder at the ridiculousness so many attached to the opposition of gay marriage. They will scoff and say “they didn’t want people to love one another and commit to one another? It seems so barbaric”. And they will be correct. I happen to like the idea of people being in love, committing to one another and creating happy atmospheres all around the world.

  5. couldn’t agree more, tric

    marriage is not about religion, it’s about love

    fingers crossed, when the time comes, the Irish will ignore the opposition from religious lobbies and join their neighbours in England, Wales, and Scotland in allowing same sex couples the same right as heterosexual couples to publically express their love and commitment to each other through marriage

    1. Thanks Duncan. I hope you are right, and I really thought we would walk this referendum, but in recent weeks when I hear the noise of the opposition and the arguments put forward I wonder at the sanity of our nation, or a proportion of it anyway.

  6. As my 9 year old said tge other night when she asked me what homophobia was – she was highly indignant and said ‘ they wouldn’t like it if people called them names for being heter ‘ a d they need to go back to school to learn some manners. If only more adults thought the same

    1. There is a lot to be said for the wisdom of children. It is as they say, children love naturally, they have to be taught to hate. You are obviously doing a good job Lorna!

  7. and i am hopeful for you as well, and for you brother, and others, who are denied their equal rights to demonstrate their love for another. the tide is slowing turning in the states, but turning it is, after so much time and so much injustice. i am hopeful, tric.

  8. In NZ we changed the law to allow gay marriage last year. Before that we had changed the law to allow civil unions, but it still took a bit longer to allow marriage. I felt the same way you did when our politicians voted; hopeful, but apprehensive. The NZ politicians came through and I hope the people of Ireland do too.
    I feel so strongly that we will look back on this time and feel so much shame at how long it took us to change these laws.

    1. Oh I definitely agree. I do think that we will cringe in the future, just as I did when I saw this photo of the mixed marriage. I hear it is still not lawful in Oz. Well done NZ

  9. I love the analogy between your country and your two brothers not having equal rights. It seems many countries are having this great debate right now. Hopefully soon, people will become educated and not fearful of the unknown. Hopefully soon, they will realize that there are weird people in every gender, race, and sexuality and recognize that homosexuality is not just for the sexual deviant. Great read tric!:)

  10. I wish we could have the chance to vote in Australia! The conservative government won’t do it because they know that the majority of people will say yes! It’s an absolute disgrace that this is even a “debate”.

  11. An important story, beautifully told. Having danced on stage for many years in many (amateur) productions I met many people, straight and gay, that I am proud to still call friends. Everyone deserves the right to happiness and security.

    1. It’s hard to believe we have to have debates on this, and have to listen to what we have over the last few weeks. I suppose we wont be really grown up as a nation until this is not even on our radar.

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