Socialist Worker interviewed a number of anti-water charges campaigners on their attitude to the Marriage Equality referendum and found strong support for a YES vote.
Councillor John Lyons of People Before Profit who has played a major role in the movement on Dublin’s north side made a call for a YES vote from the platform at the large Bin the Bills Demonstration on the 18 April. He said he did so because he was ‘conscious of the fact that anger at the government might lead some people to vote no or abstain. ‘We need to vote in favour of progressive legislation as one step along the road to making Ireland a society of equals’.
Kay Larry from Ayrfield and Rathvale Against Water Charges said, ‘I am confident the large majority of anti-water charges campaigners will vote YES because they are intelligent people who aren’t just anti-government but can tell the difference between a good policy and a bad policy. ‘All the children of the nation should be treated equally’.
Maeve Kennedy from Donneycarney and Kilester Says No to Watercharges said ‘It is imperative we vote YES to show equality for all. ‘By voting no you are discriminating against a section of the community’.
Samantha Byrne, who has also campaigned as a Home Help added, ‘Society has changed and we need to be accepting of this. ‘There is no justification for discrimination’.
Gino Kenny from Clondalkin Meter Watch said, ‘Water charges have been the cutting edge of a major movement against austerity and this has really politicised people. ‘The idea of equality has been central to that. A YES vote is essential’.
Anna Doyle from Wicklow Meter Watch felt passionately about the issue, ‘Because I’ve seen too many people forced to leave the country because of their sexuality. ‘We need equality and acceptance of everyone’.
Brendon Condron, a campaigner with Crumlin Says No, insisted, ‘It’s about time. Equality is not just about men and women or black and white – its equality for all! I’ll be voting YES’.
Shay L’Estrange, also from the Crumlin campaign, saw a direct link between the water charges movement and the marriage equality issue: ‘Just as the fight against water charges and privatisation has been engaged in as part of a drive to secure a fair and equal society for all, a YES vote will also strike a blow for a fair and equal society for all, irrespective of their sexuality.’
Deirdre Wadding of Right- 2Water Wexford and a People Before Profit Councillor included a point for those who don’t want to marry at all. ‘Use your vote to give all couples the same range of options under the law. If you don’t believe in marriage, don’t marry. ‘If you hate the government don’t use that to punish our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. All people of the nation must be given the same legal rights’
Derek Mac an Úcaire of Drimnagh Against the Water Tax is also skeptical about the institution of marriage but saw the need for a YES vote. ‘If people are fool enough to get married , no one should say they can’t’.
Oein DeBhairduin of the Irish Traveller Movement put the whole issue in a wider historical and human context:
‘In essence it’s about two things:
‘The first is the legal standing and form of marriage, removing it from a somewhat archaic divisionary device to an embracing legal contract, not on the basis of sex, but on the individual wills of two people.
‘The second is creating actualised equality.
‘The equality that challenges our assumption around gender performance and outdated static roles, the equality that seeks to be realised in all aspects of our society, regardless of gender or personal orientation and identity.
‘On the 22nd of May we have an opportunity, a real opportunity, one that will echo to the generations to come as resoundingly as it will in our rising youth and long marginalised peers, to move beyond the passive gift of tolerance but to the wonderful and all too human act of celebration. Love matters.’