Voting Yes for Marriage Equality

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Marriage as an institution has no great appeal for anarchists. Its primary role in capitalist society is to regulate property ‘rights’ and to promote social norms. But we also know that in our current society marriage has a social standing to which many people aspire. To tell a significant section of the population that they should be denied access to marriage is to ask them to accept a second­class position vis a vis their straight family members, workmates and friends.

It is perfectly consistent to wish to see the abolition of the institution of marriage and the creation of a society in which people’s love lives don’t need to be regulated by the state and to also support equality of access to marriage for LGBTQ people. One of our ultimate goals is to see the abolition of the wage slave system. That, however, does not stop us from fighting for increased wages and improved working conditions in the here and now.

Many of us remember the so­called ‘citizenship’ referendum in Ireland more than 10 years ago. It (successfully unfortunately) proposed to remove automatic citizenship from the Irish­ born children of immigrants. Anarchists vociferously campaigned against that referendum, not because we had any illusions in what the state meant by ‘citizenship’ but because we knew what the state meant by denying the children of immigrants access to that citizenship. In this instance we don’t have any illusions in the institution of marriage but know very much what message is given by denying LGBTQ people access to marriage.

Imagine for a moment, if you will, a situation whereby access to marriage is available to all citizens in Ireland. Now, let’s imagine a situation whereby a proposal is put forward to take that access away from one particular section of society ­ immigrants?, Travellers?, asylum seekers?, LGBTQ people?.... None of us would think twice about taking a position of opposition to such a proposal. Taking a position of support for the current proposal should come just as naturally.

Anarchists don’t buy the bullshit on the posters (the ‘Yes’ ones). Slogans such as ‘Equality for everyone’ and ‘treating everyone equally’ are completely meaningless when put forward by political parties who have no interest in pursuing the concept of true equality.

We know that the economic policies pursued by the parties using those slogans have visited untold hardship on working class communities since the foundation of the state. We know that economic inequality is greater than it ever was.

We also know that asylum seekers forced to endure direct provision, women forced to travel abroad for abortions, Travellers forced to live in substandard accommodation, homeless forced to live on the streets because of lack of investment in social housing and many, many other groups will still be victims of and unequal society after this referendum is over.

But without buying the bullshit we can still recognise that a Yes vote in the referendum will be a defeat for the most reactionary elements of society, and will make a real appreciable difference in the lives of many people.

A victory in the referendum can hopefully be the spur which will lead on to further victories. It could give confidence to those pursuing the repeal of the anti-woman 8th amendment of the constitution and fighting for access to free, safe and legal abortion for women in Ireland.

A victory in this referendum can make more people question the real meaning of 'equality' and will hopefully encourage more people to join the fight for social and economic equality for all.

So as anarchists we should join the call for a Yes vote in solidarity with our LGBTQ friends and comrades and because of the message that either a Yes or No vote will deliver to the confidence of those pursuing a better world.

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