While the result of the referendum is a terrible disaster for Ireland and the whole world, I would like to report on what I saw during the campaign to legalize same-sex “marriage” on the Emerald Isle.
Actively involved in Irish Society for Christian Civilisation, I spent the weeks before the referendum campaigning in defence of traditional marriage. I was witness to the strong-arm tactics and other irregularities that marked the referendum.
On the YES side what I saw was:
-the entire apparatus of the State, including bodies that by their nature should be neutral, such as the police and the Referendum Commission (established specifically to provide neutral information about referenda);
-all the political parties;
-97% of the members of the parliament and senate (less opposition than Putin gets in Russia);
-at least 95% of the money spent campaigning on the issue (most of the money on the pro-SS side appears to have come from Atlantic Philanthropies, a “charity” founded by Irish-American leftist billionaire, Chuck Feeney; also all the State bodies supporting the referendum are State funded. Both Foreign funding and State funding are illegal in an Irish referendum);
-at least 95% of celebrity endorsements, including an ex-president of Ireland (who is supposed to remain silent on political issues) as well as film stars, musicians, sports stars, etc.;
-support (amounting to economic blackmail) from big business (Google, Twitter, ebay, among others);
-75% of print media (some media sources claim that it was as high as 98%);
-The Children and Family Relationships Act, April 2015, dealing with adoption and surrogacy, is legislation that was introduced (and rushed through parliament) with the explicit intention of disqualifying adoption and surrogacy as arguments in the referendum debate;
-a referendum on reducing the age of eligibility of candidates for the presidency was held on the same day for no apparent reason other than to attract to the polling stations the young demographic most likely to vote yes to SS "marriage";
-the 60,000 Irish living overseas and eligible to vote were being offered to have their fare home subsidised by pro-SSM groups so that they could vote; and
-a company (Hailo) that processes 90% of taxi fares in Dublin offered a €15 reduction on fares to polling stations for voters who would be voting YES.
The Role of the Hierarchy and Clergy
With a few exceptions the contributions to the debate from the clergy were weak and ineffectual. However to claim that this was the principal cause of the referendum being passed is to overestimate the influence that they exert on the Irish public.
Their lack of influence is of their own making and goes back much further than the one month of debate on the same-sex “marriage” issue. Their mediocre performance in the debate is a symptom rather than the cause of the problem. The fact is that for at least 30 years they failed to teach the Faith in schools and even in the Churches, and thus they squandered a large part of the influence they once had.
Those in the hierarchy who did engage in the public debate, even when they only made weak arguments, displayed an extraordinary capacity to articulate their point very well – much better than anyone else on either side of the issue.
So, while the performance of the clergy in the past month can’t be blamed for the loss of the referendum, that doesn’t mean they are free of responsibility for the result.
The failure of the NO side
Several organisations, including my own association opposed same-sex “marriage,” tackling it from various different angles.
Our campaign consisted in distributing the flyer, composed by the American TFP, Ten Reasons why Homosexual “Marriage” is Harmful and Must be Opposed, which received many interesting repercussions. It was a favourite flyer of many who wanted to argue the debate from a Catholic perspective. Our campaign attracted some media attention.
Other organisations had bigger campaigns, with posters, flyers, videos, and television debates.
Those opposing same-sex “marriage,” found it difficult to adequately refute the very psychological and emotional arguments and slogans of the YES side. This can, at least in part, be explained by the fact that the opponents of same-sex “marriage” were preparing for a reasoned, logical debate, while the pro-same-sex “marriage” groups had been preparing for more than ten years, and used much more emotional, but completely dishonest, arguments which follow these lines:
“This is only about love and equality and nothing else. If you don’t think that other people should be allowed to express their love you are a bigot. If you don’t accept that same-sex “marriage” is equal to opposite-sex marriage, you are a homophobe. Discrimination destroys lives. This won’t affect anyone except same-sex partners. It won’t affect you. It has nothing to do with children. Why are you so interested in controlling the lives of other people? Everyone is equal.”
The most sinister argument of all was the claim that if you vote NO, and later you find out that one of your children is homosexual, you will be responsible for making him feel excluded and hated, or even for causing him to commit suicide. This twisted the issue to try to give a problem of conscience for people voting NO.
The YES side generally refused to argue on questions of freedom of conscience, for example, for printers, bakers, wedding service providers, and ultimately, for the Church, claiming that it is homophobic to avail of conscience to refuse any service to homosexuals.
The Country is Divided
The difference between the YES votes and NO votes was less than 470,000. Of this 79% was in Dublin, another 9% in areas close to Dublin and a further 9% between the cities of Cork and Limerick – i.e. most or all of the difference is attributable to the Greater Dublin area and some other urban areas.
Tallies from other areas show that small communities, villages and rural areas are divided close to 50/50, and this on the most divisive issue that has ever been discussed in public debate in Ireland (if it could even be called discussion or debate, considering that one side used intimidation to close down debate whenever possible). This does not bode well for the future of the country.
A Bright Spot
The one bright aspect for Ireland is that 38% of people voted against same-sex “marriage.” That is more than 730,000 people were sufficiently committed to defending marriage that they voted NO in spite of:
-being labelled homophobic bigots;
-the massive influences, already mentioned, in favour of the redefinition of marriage;
-the very psychological arguments of the pro-same-sex “marriage” lobby; and
-an almost total lack of support (when not receiving criticism) from the hierarchy.
-In the face of all this, the NO vote was not a casual vote but represented real commitment. The NO voters are a very significant group of people who reacted well.
Before the final result was announced, but when it was already obvious that the same-sex “marriage” side were going to win, homosexuals were being photographed kissing in public places, something that they were careful to avoid before the voting as it would surely have lost votes.
One lesbian Senator who is “married” in Canada (but her “marriage” is not recognised in Ireland in spite of having taken a case to the European Court of Human Rights) proposed to her “wife” without waiting until the final result was announced.
After the referendum some pro-same-sex “marriage” people said that it was not really a victory because there are still so many people in the country who don’t accept homosexuals for what they are; and that they will not be satisfied until everyone considers their sexual acts to be normal. This conveys an attitude of revenge against those who voted NO, and especially against the one constituency that voted against same-sex “marriage.” Of course, none of this was said before the referendum.
We can expect much more of this in the near future, as well as cases against anyone with a conscientious objection to same-sex “marriage.” It is important to the same-sex “marriage” lobby to silence and punish all opposition.
Meanwhile there was hardly a pause after the referendum before politicians and other anti-family campaigners called for: a repeal of the constitutional provision for protection of the life of the unborn; legislation for assisted suicide; legislation for gender reassignment “rights”; repeal of legislation that allows exemption from some provisions of employment equality laws to religious institutions – all this being proposed within a week of the referendum.