Irish Marriage Equality Vote

Hola, Buzzkilleros! It’s the old Professor here, coming in on a hot LZ, strafing myths ripped straight from the headlines.

God, I love the smell of equality in the morning! Smells like victory.

That’s right, killers, on Saturday the people of Ireland voted by a large majority to enact legal marriage equality, becoming the first country to do so via a national referendum.

Myth to bust on this PDR — that in 2015 Ireland is an overwhelmingly Catholic, socially conservative, and priest-ridden country. The press over the weekend has harped on about what a mighty turn around Ireland has undergone, seemingly overnight. Very few news outlets (Slate being a notable one) have bothered to explain to people what’s been happening in Ireland for more than twenty years that has allowed this victory for equality to take place.

First, the myth. Ireland was indeed a heavily Catholic country for most of its modern history. Emphasis on the “most,” buzzies. This only intensified after independence from Britain, when early Irish governments created perhaps the strongest connection between a religion and a state in modern history. The 1937 Irish constitution more or less set up a state Church, and the intense cooperation between the Irish government and the Church, more or less led to the Church acting as part of the national government for decades.

That started to change in the 1980s. Membership in the European Union brought new social influences, as did the Celtic Tiger economic boom in the late 90s. Underlying worries about the Church being a parallel government really burst to the surface, however, when a series of sexual abuse cases in the Church and Church institutions stretching back decades became known.

These scandals shocked Irish Catholics and church attendance fell from 90% in 1984 to 18% by 2011. Ireland used to have such a surplus of young priests that they exported them throughout the world. Now they have to import them. The vast majority of Irish people now consider themselves culturally, rather than devoutly, Catholic and disagree with a great number of the Church’s most fundamental teachings.

Saturday’s vote result showed that clearly.

But Professor, you say, these changes are only twenty or so years old. Yes, but busting the myth, killers, also helps me to rant about a misconception and misunderstanding about history and the passage of time. We forget that “history” is about the past. And the past is, in effect, happening all the time, sometimes very slowly, sometimes very quickly. We need to notice the difference. We need to recognize that huge changes can indeed be happening under our very eyes, even as recently and quickly as what happened in Ireland. Remember, Buzzkillers, the mid 80s was just the other day for me, but they were literally a lifetime ago for young people.

So congrats to all my peeps and hommies in Ireland, especially to our friends at The Galway Daily News, who campaigned for a Yes vote. Why am I talking in a slanguage that’s so, like, ten years ago? Sounds stupid and out of date nowadays, right? Word up, fo sheezie.

Well, it’s just to show you that ten or twenty years can be a be a blink of an eye. But sometimes it’s ancient history.

Catch ya later, dawgs. Gotta bounce. Peace out.

Read more about the topic on Slate.

Learn more about Irish history from Professor Buzzkill’s (Joe Coohill’s) book.