- Samuel Beckett, “Murphy.”
For once we can contradict the great Beckett. There is something new in the land he was so connected to.
The Irish have embraced their LGBT minority and accepted them as full citizens.
I think that would have melted the heart of the uber-cynic Beckett and he would have accepted there was something new after all.
When you consider that 10 percent – maximum – of the Irish population is gay, the achievement of passing a referendum on same sex marriage becomes even more remarkable.
It means that of the 60 percent who voted in favor at least 50 percent were men and women who had no direct agenda when it came to passage.
It reflects also an incredibly generous and far-reaching impulse on behalf of the Irish people in embracing an often shunned and stereotyped minority.
For a country that guarded all its secrets – about corruption, child abuse and low standards in high places – the openness of the vote for marriage equality was a massive step forward.
It was as if the Irish nation decided to finally clean out and close the closet that so many had been trapped in and accept them as equals.
It was striking to me the number of people I spoke to who dealt with the issue in personal terms.
They knew an immediate relative or friend or work colleague who was gay and invariably understood how deeply the issue mattered to them.
The recent openness and discussion about gay rights served Ireland well on this occasion, it allowed people to see them not as some strange minority but increasingly as the very people they interact with every day.
That sense of normality and sense that LGBT people were entitled to the same rights as everyone else was especially strong among the young voters who flocked to the polls.
As anyone who visits there will tell you it is no longer your grandfather's Ireland. Inward migration, new American multinationals like Apple, Facebook , different thoughts and cultures, are the very heartbeat of Ireland these days.
Much of the mainstream media in the US missed that, never really connecting the dots between the death of monochrome, one holy and Catholic Ireland that passed away at least a decade or so ago and the new multi-ethnic ethos that prevails.
That is why the rainbow is so fitting a symbol for what happened last Friday. Ireland is actually moving to an American model, “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one.”
That new sense of difference within a shared identity will serve the country well moving forward. The worldwide reaction for what Ireland accomplished has been wonderful.
As a famous Irish American remarked in a different context: one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Well done to all.