Marriage referendum campaign enters final month

Voters in Ireland go to the polls 22 May to decide two constitutional issues: whether to allow same-sex marriage, and whether to reduce the age of candidacy for the office of president to 21 from 35 (as in the U.S.)

The marriage issue, unsurprisingly, is getting most of the attention. If approved, Ireland would become the first country in the world to approve a national referendum guaranteeing same-sex marriage in its constitution. Other nations (France, Denmark, Argentina) have approved gay marriage through the courts or legislatively, as has happened in 36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide same-sax marriage issue later this summer.

Recent polling in Ireland finds support for the “Yes” vote remains around 70 percent, though it has slipped since February. And a secret “No” vote could be waiting in the wings, David Quinn writes in the Irish Independent:

‘No’ voters and waverers will stay silent for the most part out of fear of being denounced as ‘bigots’ for the ‘crime’ of believing in the family of man, woman and child based on marriage. The ‘No’ side can win though, and if it does, it will be a victory for common sense and the severest rebuff for Official Ireland, which is willing to break every normal protocol to secure a ‘Yes’ vote.

An editorial in Irish Central says “what seems to be going for the ‘Yes’ side is the sheer hypocrisy of the ‘No’ proponents,” suggesting the “intolerance and moral superiority [of high-profile ‘No’ representatives] probably ensures the same sex referendum will pass.”

Or maybe not. IC continues:

There are many rural voters who will resent the Dublin 4 [a postal district of wealthy, liberal elites] attitude reflected in much of the media of ill-concealed derision for those who oppose same sex marriage. There is also the complacency factor. Polls showing the ‘Yes’ side so far ahead may lead many to decide against voting at all.

For more details and background, The Irish Times offers a Q & A about the marriage referendum, and a Q & A about the age eligibility issue.