‘ Yes vote a statement that ‘it’s okay to be gay’ in Ireland’

You might not care about getting married (I don’t) but equal marriage is about a lot more than that. From a piece in the Irish Times:

Saturday’s strong Yes vote is a statement that “it’s okay to be gay” in modern day Ireland, according to Minister for Agriculture and Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said that while the referendum was ostensibly about extending the rights of civil marriage to gay and lesbian people, it was also a statement about Ireland as a country.

“In many ways, the statement that Ireland is making today is that it’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to be who you are, it’s okay to love who you want to love and your country accepts you for who you are.”


Meanwhile, leading marriage equality campaigner and Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer has hailed the anticipated Yes victory in the marriage equality referendum as heralding a new era for Irish society.

“It’s a great day and no words can describe what it feels like but what it means is the Irish people in their strength of numbers have said we are all equal, we are all cherished under our constitution.”

“I respect those who vote the other way yesterday but we are a democracy and today we stand on the threshold of a new republic where liberty and equality are the hallmarks of what we stand for.”

In which a politician made me cry

From David Lammy’s Speech on Same Sex Marriage:

There are those that say this is all happening too quickly. … And I sympathise. … And I will be respecting that when I vote for this Bill.

…Because it does command the support of the country.

…Because it does respect religious freedom and tradition by permitting – rather than mandating – religious organisations to conduct the ceremonies.

…And because it is the end of an organic journey from criminality to equality for the gay community that began over half a century ago.

This change is right, this change is necessary and its time is now.

Separate is NOT equal, so let us be rid of it.

Because as long as there is one rule for us and another for them, we allow the barriers to acceptance to stand unchallenged.

As long as our statute books suggest that the love between two men or two women is unworthy of being recognised through marriage, we allow the rot of homophobia to fester.

The Bible is complicated.

But its enduring message is not that homosexuality is wrong, it is to “love thy neighbour”.
It offers no caveats.

Maybe they were gay homosexuals

Saxon grave ‘couple’ may have been two men, says the Telegraph.

The amazing discovery shows the “couple” lying side by side in the grave with one’s arm across the other.
But the discovery has left experts with a 1,000-year-old mystery.
They know that the body pictured on the right is that of a man, over 6ft tall but they believe that the body on the left is also that of a man as well.
First they thought the couple were a man and wife united in death. But now they believe they could be two men who were ‘brothers in arms’, possibly warriors, who died together and were buried in the one grave.

“There were no artefacts buried with them to give us any clues. It is a bit of a mystery really.”

Is it really so difficult to countenance the idea that they might just have been a couple? Gay men aren’t an invention of the modern era. If they looked like lovers, maybe they were lovers.
I do love the bit where they say ‘They are exceptionally tall – both over 6ft. The one on the left has got some female traits to it but it does seem to be male’.

Desmond Tutu – churches should take action on world poverty, not obsess about homosexuality

BBC: Church obsessed with gays – Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused the Anglican church of allowing its “obsession” with homosexuality to come before real action on world poverty.
“God is weeping” to see such a focus on sexuality and the Church is “quite rightly” seen by many as irrelevant on the issue of poverty, he said.
It may be good to “accept that we agree to differ” on the gay issue, he said.

However, and speaking outside the conference hall to the BBC, he said he sometimes felt ashamed of his fellow Anglicans as they focussed obsessively on trying to resolve their disagreement about homosexuality while 30,000 people died each day because of poverty.
“We really will not be able to win wars against so-called terror as long as there are conditions that make people desperate, and poverty, disease and ignorance are amongst the chief culprits,” he said.

The man rocks.

International gay rights desperately needed

Peter Tatchell writes in the Guardian on:
Sexual cleansing in Iraq

The “improved” security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not those who are gay. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic killing spree with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics, such as Moqtada al-Sadr, as Newsweek recently revealed.

And in Bosnia: Bosnian Mob Attacks Gay Festival
And generally: 2008 Hate Crime Survey

Hate crime continues to rise in many parts of Europe and North America according to our 2008 Hate Crime Survey, a second annual report examining bias-driven violence in 2007 and 2008.

A bit of Google love

From the Official Google Blog: Our position on California’s No on 8 campaign

However, while there are many objections to this proposition — further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text — it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 — we should not eliminate anyone’s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.

I have new respect for Google.
And I’m still totally bemused by sheer amount of effort some people will put into stopping two people they’ve never heard of from getting married. Surely it’s unhealthy to be *that* obsessed with the love lives of others. ‘Homophobes are that way because they’re repressing their homosexuality’ is a glib line, but it would explain an awful lot.

Tolerance is not the same as acceptance but tolerance is still a fine thing

[I learnt this lesson in Amsterdam – they tolerate foreigners, but they may never accept them. Anyway, this story was interesting because it’s nice to know that these kids are going to have a slightly easier time, and because that level of validation of gender identity is pretty damn cool.]
BBC: Thai school offers transsexual toilet

With its spacious, tree-lined grounds and slightly threadbare classrooms, there is nothing obviously unusual about the Kampang Secondary School.
It is situated in Thailand’s impoverished north-east, and most of the pupils are the children of farmers.

But there is something else about them too. Between the girls’ toilet and the boys’, there is one signposted with a half-man, half-woman figure in blue and red.

The transgender boys in Kampang tend to stick together as a group, practising their somewhat exaggerated feminine mannerisms together and generally camping it up.
They still have to wear male uniforms, make-up is not allowed (although some manage to sneak in a touch of lipstick and mascara), and of course sex-change surgery is out of the question at this age – the youngest self-declared transsexual is 12.
But they appear to be treated perfectly normally by other pupils and teachers alike.
I asked the headmaster whether they were not too young to be making decisions about their gender.
A transsexual pupil at Kampang Secondary School, north-east Thailand The pupils have to wear boys’ uniforms, but use feminine accessories He said that, in his 35 years of working in the Thai education system, he had come across
many boys like this, and they never changed. Many go on as adults to have sex-change surgery, while others will live as gay men, he said.

The Kampang school’s initiative, far from stirring up controversy, has instead prompted a discussion in other schools over whether they should be providing the same facilities.

Tolerance, said Suttirat, is not the same thing as acceptance.