The Irish referendum legalizing same-sex marriages will have its footnote in the history of social emancipation
Similar legislation permitting single-sex marriage has been enacted in some twenty nation states around the work over a period of years. However, the Irish vote has been claimed as the first such constitutional change achieved through the democratic vote. It resulted in a outburst of joy as crowds gathered in Dublin and around the country to welcome the ‘sixty percent’ Yes vote.
‘We are the first’
“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish,” said Leo Varadkar, a Cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of a government-led effort to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic constitution.
The dilemmas of power
For students of leadership, the referendum provides a case study of the dilemmas of power.
Ireland is nominally a country where the Catholic Church has had great social and political as well as religious influence. Its leaders faced a clash of values between supporting fundamental aspects of faith and changing social views. The dilemma was made to more intense through a failure by the church to deal transparently with high profile examples of child abuse which weakened its one uncontested moral authority.
The church in Ireland took a strategic decision to avoid playing a high-profile role for the No Vote.
The archbishop of Dublin in accepting the result interpreted it as a failure of the church to communicate its message to younger people. The statement echoed that of the defeated Labour Party in The United Kingdom general election a few weeks earlier.
Monday 25th May 2015
Ripples spread. Even Italy takes notice
Wed 27th May 2015
The Vatican response is less than enthusiastic. Talks about “a defeat for humanity”