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.
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.
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.