Yes Equality group plans 40 events nationwide

Umbrella group’s same-sex marriage campaign launched by broadcaster Charlie Bird

Yes Equality comprises the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Marriage Equality and says it has local branches in most constituencies. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Yes Equality comprises the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Marriage Equality and says it has local branches in most constituencies. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Campaigners for same-sex marriage plan to hold more than 40 events nationally where people can openly talk about why they are in favour – or against – the referendum proposal.

The Yes Equality group, an umbrella organisation made up of three individual organisations, says it aims to hold the open microphone events in each constituency before polling day on May 22nd.

Yes Equality comprises the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Marriage Equality and says it has local branches in most constituencies.

Former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird officially launched the initiative – called “I’m Voting Yes, Ask Me Why” – in Dublin, and he was accompanied by Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation, who is also a member of Lucinda Creighton’s Renua Ireland party, Laura Harmon, the president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), actor Biddy White Lennon, and Anne Rigney, the mother of a gay son.

Ms Rigney composed a poem in favour of same-sex marriage which gained traction online.

Explain positions

Mr Bird said the events would allow those for or against a Yes vote to explain their positions, adding that Yes campaigners would be on hand at each event to answer any queries people might have.

The “I’m Voting Yes, Ask Me Why” tour will take place during April, with the initial events in Waterford, Dundalk, Galway and Cork.

Organisers claim as many as 45 will take place in total, with the possibility of some constituencies holding more than one.

Mr Bird will chair a number of these and other well-known public figures are expected to attend some events.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Irwin, who is in his 70s, said he wanted men of his age to turnout and vote Yes. He said as many of his “male contemporaries” as possible should be encouraged to “tick the Yes box”.

Kinder, softer

“This is about a kinder, softer more understanding country,” he said. Ms White Lennon said “long term relationship – marriage – is what matters”.

“It does no harm at all, all it can do is good,” she said. “It is not going to affect anybody.”

She said people were concerned about diversity in the plant and animal worlds – “we save heritage potatoes” – and should have no problem with “diversity of people”.

Ms Harmon said she was looking forward to returning to her hometown of Ballyvourney in northwest Cork to vote on May 22nd, adding there was huge enthusiasm among younger voters for same-sex marriage.

Grainne Healy of Yes Equality said pro-same-sex marriage campaigners “cannot win this referendum on our own”.

“We are asking Irish people to get involved, show their commitment to equality and freedom, and join the campaign to win the referendum. Our greatest challenge is complacency,” she said.