Thursday, 21 May 2015

The referendum and why I'm not allowed to vote...

In case you are living on another planet (or maybe just in another country), tomorrow is the referendum about gay marriage (and also about lowering the age of presidential candidates but no one seem to really care about that one).

Over the last few weeks, I have seen my Facebook feed filling up with articles, pictures, and opinions about the subject. From what I've seen, the majority of my friends are in favour of gay marriage. And so am I, if you want to know. I have tried very hard to avoid TV debates in fear of wanting to break my TV, and my blood just boils when I hear the NO side trying to make the whole thing about children when it's clearly not. It's about marriage, full stop. 

In France, the government legalised gay marriage two years ago and it was met with quite a lot of criticism. Looking from the outside, it seemed that some French people felt they didn't have any say in the process and it led to many protests. One of my gay friends in France even told me he thought it would have been a better idea to hold a referendum at the time. 

I really hope the YES wins tomorrow, but unfortunately there's nothing I can do to help. I am not allowed to vote because I'm not an Irish citizen. In a way, I can understand that the right to vote is something special and is the most important act that shows your integration to a country. On the other hand, I'm not sure I feel "Irish" enough to ask for citizenship, and being European, I almost have the same rights and duties as the natives anyway.

The other barrier to become an Irish citizen is more practical: Money. If you weren't aware, it costs a thousand euros to obtain Irish citizenship. One could argue I could save for a year or so, but then it comes back to the real question: Do I really want to become Irish? In fact, even if I obtain citizenship, will people consider me Irish? Will I even consider myself Irish? I'm not quite sure. 

Right now, I'm dreaming of a rule that would allow residents to vote after 10 years of living in the country. Is that a stupid idea?

Anyway, all I can do is urge people who can vote do to so tomorrow. This is Ireland's chance to show that all citizens can be equal. 

So go and vote YES!