The Irish Times 25 May 2015
Seven hundred and thirty-four thousand, three hundred people did not vote No to love and equality. They are just as generous and inclusive as their neighbours who voted Yes, and just as fond of their gay relatives. In fact, some of them are gay themselves.
That does not fit the dominant narrative that only people who were rigid, intolerant and fearful voted No. It is an inconvenient truth that this was not a referendum on whether we like gay people or not.
People who voted No recognise marriage as the place where society celebrates sexual and gender differences as deeply embedded features of the human condition, primarily – although by no means exclusively – because it produces children. They wanted to preserve that in our social structures and law.
The vast majority of Yes voters also voted from generous and humane impulses. More importantly, parents and relations of gay children, in particular, desperately wanted to convey to their children that they were just as equal as their straight siblings. We can all admire that and understand why they feel they have achieved that objective.
We do not have to admire the fact that the campaign may have lasted weeks, but the soft coverage of gay icons and celebrities and “human interest” stories pushing the Yes side have been going on for years, with the enthusiastic collusion of the media.
We do not have to admire a Government who relentlessly framed this so it was always going to be a battle between the heart and the head. We do not have to admire Government Ministers who talked about damaging the gay people’s mental health if we voted No.