Ulster says Yes to marriage equality.

Local poet, theologian, group worker and Leader of the Corrymeela Community , Pádraig Ó Tuama, wrote this blog about yesterday’s Marriage Equality march in Belfast and with his permission has allowed us to re-post on Slugger. Here is his story. 

So yesterday was a beautiful day. Sun. Celebration. Support. Story. Hope.

I gave a cúpla focail at the marriage equality gathering in the city. It was organized by the wonderful people at the Rainbow Project, Amnesty and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Over 10,000 people gathered in the sun to hear speeches about the love of LGBT people. I don’t think I will ever get used to the joy of walking through a city on the odd days when the city says “your right to be safe is a right worth protecting”. And that’s one of the underlying dynamics of marriage equality – this is an opportunity for people like me to believe that our society believes in our safety; people like the beautiful ones I know who have lived through too much public distaste, too many exorcisms, too much change therapy, too much #loveyouhateyoursin

There is a need to have public ways to honour the love that LGBT couples have for each other.  Marriage equality is one way to wind down the cycle of pain that LGBT people learn.

It’s worth repeating that there are already aspects of marriage equality in Northern Ireland. There are marriages between one man and one woman. Many of these marriages have children; others of those marriages don’t have children. Those marriages are celebrated and blessed and recognized by places of faith. Those marriages are beautiful and protected and it should always be.

There are also marriages between people who’ve been married before – some of these marriages are blessed by places of faith, some not. There are interfaith marriages and marriages between people who don’t claim any religious viewpoint. Some places of faith recognize these as valid marriages, others don’t.  But they are recognized and protected by law. The love at the heart of all marriages is given legal protection, whether or not those marriages are recognized and validated as such in places of faith. Different churches, different places of faith, civil marriage sites – they already disagree between the marriages each validate and the ones they don’t. That’s what this is – adding to an already diverse space.

No minister will go to jail because they won’t celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple. No priest is in jail because he won’t celebrate the marriage of a couple one of whom has been previously married. To engage in a fantasy of persecution is just that – a fantasy. The theological question is one of love. One of the questions is: do the couple love each other? If this is true, then what is the source of that love? God, you are the source of all things good and of your own we give you, our Anglican friends pray that – it’s my favourite part of their liturgy. Another question is this: Rather than imagining Christian persecution because of marriage laws in this jurisdiction, it’s best to stay with love. Have leaders of faith shown enough love to deserve an invitation to the weddings of LGBT couples? This is the practical theology at the heart of this public debate. What is the quality and affect of our love?

I have many friends who disagree with me on this. Throughout this discussion we will remain friends, and we will remain committed to strong dialogue, engaged discussion, refusal to insult each other or play insinuation games that deride or mock. To insult one cheapens us all. Integrity calls for the truth, and I am committed to the gentle and powerful truth of the impact of public words on the private lives of individuals most affected by those public words. Shirley McMillan was at the event yesterday with folks from the Gay Straight Alliances of Shimna and Hazlewood Integrated Schools. Those schools are intentionally creating places of safety for those who have had to recognize harsh words about them far too early. The stories from yesterday – from couples who shared their stories, from allies who spoke of their support, writer Glenn Patterson, organizations who pledged their support, individuals who spoke of their journey towards courage, drag queens, artists, writers, trade unionists, people in the crowd, people who waved, people who smiled – it is an extraordinary thing to feel a city swell in the simplicity of support to say “We’re glad you’re part of the city”. Let’s make Love the Law.

Anyway, here are the words from yesterday:

Friends we are here today for love and because of love.

When I was 12 I heard someone say that gay people couldn’t love each other and would be the breakdown of society. So I kept secrets because I was too frightened to tell the truth.

At 18, I heard someone say that LGBT people don’t love each other, can’t love each other.

I heard it again at 19 and 20 and 21 and most years since. I heard it last week.

But we know that LGBT people can and do love each other. Let’s tell that truth.

Our love for each other is what helps us live, what helps us survive and thrive. Our love is powerful, generous, supportive, kind, strong and lifegiving.

Let’s honour the word Marriage with another word: Equal.

We need nobody’s permission to live and show and share our love.

What we want is recognition and protection in law.

Our straight allies, places of faith, work, our families – they know this is true and they know it’s good news:

The marriages of LGBT couples are worth protecting in law. It’s good for us and is good for all of society.

Too many young people today still hear messages that depress them and threaten their dignity. It is not acceptable that our love is deemed distasteful.

As a person of faith I believe our love is a sign of our deepest morality – and our society will deepen its strength, its faith and its quality by acknowledging — in law — the love that we have for each other.

So let’s make Tá the Law. Let’s make Grá the Law. Ulster says Yes.

This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Turgon, there is no necessity or demand for polyamorous relationship among Muslims. Muslims living in a non-Muslim country are living under a covenant.

    As for anyone else, well start a campaign and good luck to you.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And further congratulations to me: I’ve never contracted an STD. Have you?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    You should have no problem calling yourself a homophobe either.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And your perversion of the English language? Your misuse of punctuation and word spacing is highly abnormal and unacceptable.

  • PMC

    I don’t regard this as a human rights issue, rather one of a small yet vociferous group of people who want their needs, whims, wants and hyper-sensitivities met above all else. Its entirely incidental they happen to be gay (or claim to be).

    Access to power levers is more the motivation in my view and a corruption of the core of what has delivered society, in particular, Western society to the heights it is at currently.

    Marriage = One Man + One Woman.

  • Robin Keogh

    Fair play Turgon, u are doing a fine job of erecting barrier arguments to hide what is essentially homophobia. The law around marraige is structured around a contract entered into by TWO people. The case for equal marraige to be extended to same sex couple does not seek to change that structure it simply wants to be a part of it. However, if the state wished to change the structure of marraige law to accommodate your examples then that is a matter for the state and its also a matter for those subjects who wish it to be so. Gay people are not campaigning to change the legal structure of marraige, they are simply asking to be accomodated the same way christian, jewish and muslim couples etc. Already are.

  • David Arnold

    The ROI and the 97% of the UK that isn’t NI would appear to disagree with you PMC.

  • David Arnold

    You’ve been game for a laugh Peter if nothing else. Of all the current subjects to debate, opposition to equal marriage is up there with the least defensible. You’ve nicely laid out the dodgy to barking arguments against, while neatly avoiding answering any difficult questions.

    I think my favourite was ”my kids might learn equality in school and that scares me.”

    Good man yourself and all the best in your efforts to save Ulster from sodomy.

  • kalista63

    I’m not being funny here but sodomy is currently in vogue with us straights too, and that’s including women doing it to men, massaginng their thing who’s name Ican’t remember. I’m well out of the whole thing but its also a thing for women to give their men a strap on up their bum too.

    In an interview last year Stephen Fry came off with a statistic about MM sex and buggery was no that commonly practiced in the gay community..

    To paraphrase the line from Father Ted, are we all sodomites now, Father?

  • mickfealty

    Peter, I’ll happily defend your right to engage here (as I suspect will some your opponents in this arguments). But this either deliberate abstruse-ness, or out and out trolling.

    Play the ball, not the man please. (Robin, Carl, my office NOW!!)

  • kalista63

    Given that the leading party here thinks the same things as him and have said the same words, I’m not sure he’s the right target.

  • kalista63

    But that’s putting an occidental lens on polygamy when there are valid reasons for it elsewhere. I watched The Tribe on the BBC last week and the man with 2 wives was doubly under the thuimb, the 2 wives had a fantastic friendship and whole thing seemed to work brilliantly for them.

    Now, some upperclass son of an actual facist dressed up as a nazi with similarily dressed prostitutes, that is a fek’n perversion but that’s allowed.

  • kalista63

    As I recall, most old guard Tories opposed it. The very same type that are linked to Dolphin House.

  • kalista63

    I think the objection to a refererendum by the DUP et al says it all. The biggest issue will be, as always with referenda, getting the yes side out because you can bet your house that EVERY objector will be out.

  • kalista63

    I’d to read that second paragraph 5 times. Can you see why I had to?

  • Peter L

    Fair play Mick,the temperature has now cooled.

  • kalista63

    He’s an old testament type. They were well in to that and a fair bit of the oul incest.

  • Robin Keogh

    Me !? What the hell did I do now?

  • Padraigin Drinan

    Civil marriage is a civil right. Not a human right, It is between citizens regulated by the state..It is not the job of the state to conform to any particular religious requirement. If people want a religious element they can choose to add that on. But civil marriage is a civil right.