On Friday May 22nd Irish people will vote on whether to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples. I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post this close to the referendum because, frankly, since the campaign officially began I’ve been too angry and wound up to write anything sensible. But having written two longer than usual Facebook updates recently, I decided to combine them and elaborate here.
Two months ago I was lucky enough to get married. I say lucky not just because I am happily married to the man I love, but because the option of marriage has never been open to me before as my previous long term relationships were with women.
Paul and I had a small civil ceremony in Dublin. We invited family and close friends, chose two songs and a reading (you’ll find it here), said our vows and signed our marriage certificate. The entire ceremony took less than 30 minutes. But they were a wonderfully moving 30 minutes. Making that commitment to each other and having it recognised was important.
This case, which is believed to be one of the first under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013, immediately led to questions being asked. If the panel had deemed the woman’s life to be at risk from suicide and given the advanced stage of the pregnancy it is likely a Caesarean section would have been the only possible outcome given the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. But if the panel decided there was no risk from suicide why was the Caesarean section carried out?
When the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death broke on 14th November 2012, I immediately had questions. I wanted to know how and why this young woman died. We all did.
The answers, according to the findings from the on-going inquest, paint a picture of failure after failure. Letting the Halappanavar’s down and Savita ultimately paying for it with her life. These failures were both human and systemic. There was an unnecessary delay in reviewing all the information and test results, which meant they couldn’t possibly treat Savita correctly. Unfortunately, she never stood a chance.
There’s no denying that the introduction of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 was a big moment in the fight for equality for members of Ireland’s LGBT community.
For the first time same-sex couples were able to have their relationships legally recognised by the State. However, it doesn’t go far enough. There are still over 160 differences between civil partnerships and civil marriage.
On Monday Kerry County Council became the 14th local authority, since July 2012, in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) to pass a motion in favour of marriage equality.
With the latest Millward Brown Lansdowne poll showing that 75% of people would vote yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples it’s encouraging to see our local politicians back equality on this issue. Even if it is only a symbolic gesture.
Yes, there has been vocal opposition, by some councillors, to these motions but they have been shown time and time again to be within the minority.
Needing to attend a hospital because you are in pain is a worrying time. Being pregnant, no doubt, makes it all the scarier as it’s not just your own life you are concerned for.
Being told that you are having a miscarriage is heart breaking beyond belief. Being left, for three days, in pain with a fully dilated cervix and leaking amniotic fluid is nothing short of barbaric.
That this happened to Savita Halappanavar and she died of septicaemia makes my blood run cold.