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Ireland: Not only a practical win, but also another tremendous psychological shift

by Jeremy Hooper

IrelandI am overjoyed by the resounding vote for marriage equality in Ireland. As a longtime activist who wants marriage equality across the globe. As someone with Irish ancestry. As a history buff who feels privileged to live in such a monumental time. As a former gay kid who knows what marriage equality would've meant for my wellbeing. As a gay adult who is lucky enough to have found and committed to my own marital love at a young age, and who is honored to be among the first humans to raise a kid with two parents of the same sex who have full state and federal marriage rights. I'm thrilled. Simply thrilled.

But beyond the practicalities of what more marriage equality means for its beneficiaries, the landslide vote in Ireland is another major moment for how we talk about, promote, consider, and win over previously closed hearts in this ongoing marriage debate. We now have a country—and a very Catholic country, to boot—that has voted in marriage equality in sweeping numbers. This was "the people" doing what they felt was right for their nation and its people. The winning side beat back all of the anti-equality arguments that the deceptively-named "Mothers and Fathers Matter" campaign threw at them, and did so quite handily. And importantly, the prevailing side did so with a lot of help from a lot of straight allies who understand why this fight is a fight for all of us.

The win is Ireland's to enjoy, and I hope locals (and particularly the triumphant "Yes" campaign staffers) celebrate for days and days. But the wallop from this referendum has seismic implications here in the states, too. Whenever we talk about marriage here at home, this is a new—and major—talking point. In addition to mentioning that a majority of the American public consistently supports marriage equality in all credible polling, noting that marriage equality is in nearly forty American states with no major controversy to report, reminding our fellow citizens that the last four votes in four different states went in favor of marriage equality, etc., we can now highlight the fact that other, deeply religious, very family-oriented countries are now moving towards the expansion of love and putting this matter to bed, once and for all. This, the idea of a nation that has cast such a vote, is just one more positive that has gone from theoretical to real.

And soon enough, we will likely have a United States Supreme Court ruling that gives us yet another huge shift. While it's true that this and other developments will make some of our opposing forces even more charged up than before, the distance between their attacks and their ability to land one is only going to become greater. These latest developments are not simply strikes against them—they are stark examples of how fully the other side has already lost. The anti-equality forces will rage for years to come, surely. I'm starting to see a not-too-distant future where we just won't have to care.

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