Miriam Lord: Marriage referendum really is all about the children

Reluctant gay icon Enda Kenny deploys the ‘what did you do in the war, daddy?’ tactic

Apparently – at least as the No side would have it – gay people will fall prey to rampant broodiness the instant they get a wedding ring on their finger. Photograph: Getty Images

Apparently – at least as the No side would have it – gay people will fall prey to rampant broodiness the instant they get a wedding ring on their finger. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Peace at last!

The broadcast moratorium kicks in after lunch today.

And the noise will stop.

You can call the glazier to get the windows repaired and you can venture into the garden to retrieve those radios you fired through them.

As for fixing a melted brain?

Just chill.

The talking is almost over.

It’s sweet, though, isn’t it?

Thinking of all those gay men and lesbian women saving themselves for marriage, like in the good old days before the heterosexuals turned heathen and started having babies out of wedlock to beat the band.

Apparently – at least as the No side would have it – gay people will fall prey to rampant broodiness the instant they get a wedding ring on their finger. Should the amendment be accepted, they’ll be belting down the doors of the Four Courts, flourishing copies of the Constitution and insisting the Government has to underwrite the cost of their surrogate babies and IVF treatments.

This will come as welcome news to the many thousands of already married men and women who can’t have children and are automatically entitled to the same constitutional protection. If the State had been obliged to pay for them to go down the artificially assisted route, the courts would have been chockablock for the past few decades.

They haven’t. And whatever way the referendum goes, they won’t be in the future.

So much to think about.

As the debate winds down, thoughts turned to the post- referendum landscape and what might happen if the constitutional amendment to allow for same-sex marriage is accepted by the Irish people.

The main players on both sides held their final press conferences yesterday.

The Coalition parties lined out at two separate events headed by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.

Fine Gael chose the Merrion Hotel and Enda was supported by an impressive Cabinet turn- out. The only minister missing was Charlie Flanagan, who was on Foreign Affairs duty with the Prince of Wales in Sligo.

Joyful yes

The Taoiseach has come a long way since his wishy-washy, say nothing and it all might go away days. He wore a Yes badge on each lapel and put in a strong performance as he urged voters to answer “a joyful yes to inclusion, yes to rights, yes to love, yes to equality and yes to equal marriage”.

Although he was somewhat flummoxed when it was put to him that if the amendment is accepted, he may very well become a gay icon.

“I have no intention of becoming a gay icon,” he replied cautiously, sounding like he wasn’t too sure what that actually meant. Leo Varadkar nearly fell of his chair laughing.

Across at the Wood Quay centre in Dublin’s Civic Offices, Joan Burton was urging young people to come out and vote. “What a profoundly uplifting campaign this has been,” she said. “I will always remember the unprecedented queues of young people waiting to get on the voting register.”

But they’re not allowed to take selfies in the polling stations. “Please take a selfie outside,” she told first-time voters. And tweet them like mad.

But if the Taoiseach is poised on the brink on iconic status, surely too that honour awaits the Tánaiste? After all, the Labour Party has done most of the campaign’s heavy lifting.

Any thoughts, Joan?

She was a bit flummoxed too. But then she thought of her pink jacket and how everyone said how it was great for the campaign. She thought again.

“In fact, I was told by some people that I was a bit like Dusty Springfield. ”

Iona on tour

The No campaign, aka Iona on tour, mustered in Buswells Hotel for one final push. A natural one, obviously, with lots of gas and air.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames was very generous. She said the holding of another referendum is a possibility she would consider.

Article 41 of the Constitution was not the right place for same-sex marriage: “We should be able to meet their needs and ensure they have constitutional protection by voting No and sending this back to the Government to redraft and to have their needs met under Article 40 on equality and personal rights.”

Independent TD Mattie McGrath was very upset over comments made earlier this week by former president Mary McAleese, whose son is gay.

She recalled that when her father-in-law came to stay, he arrived with what could be described as “your regular bog-standard Irish Catholic granda with an attitude to gay people”. But in the company of his grandson and other gay people, he “just blossomed and he let go of all that bias and prejudice”.

Deputy McGrath was most concerned by her “intemperate language, where she described people as bog-standard Catholics, which is a shocking intervention.”

He didn’t mind her getting involved in the campaign, although he has issues with her being on the Council of State and assessing future legislation if the President calls the Council of State to do so.

“I am surprised at her intemperate and shocking language and her denigrating of ordinary Catholic people in Ireland, and Christian people. There are many faiths that are opposed to this issue.”

But back to the Taoiseach, who adopted a sort of “what did you do in the war, daddy” approach.

“Imagine at some point in future, someone in your immediate family, a child, a niece, nephew, a grandchildren tell you they are a gay person, what would you say?” he asked his audience.

The Taoiseach spoke directly to the electorate. “Could anyone do that to their own family, to their own members of their extended family? I hope not.

“If you vote Yes, we will all be able to say that we had the opportunity on Friday 22nd of May to give them the same chance in life as everybody who has been able to grasp that opportunity.”

Kids and voters

Of course, it’s all about the children.

Not to mention the electorate.

Labour TD John Lyons, a teacher by profession who happens to be gay (he brought his proud Ma Josie to yesterday’s press conference), spoke of how schools that ran their own referendums had voted overwhelming in favour of the amendment.

And funnily enough, of the eligible electorate, that large, freshly registered batch of young voters are the ones who remember their childhood days most. Some are still in their teens.

According to all the polls, by a huge majority, they will be voting Yes.

That says something.