On Friday 22 May the people of the Republic of Ireland get to vote on a referendum regarding marriage equality; in other words, the straights get to say whether or not the gays get to marry. I find it ridiculous that the masses get to choose whether people who love one another are allowed to marry, but that’s the state of our world these days. Of course, Claude and I don’t get to vote, and that makes me sad. I’d love to be able to proudly mark a YES on my ballot. Such is the plight of the ex-pat. I am frankly surprised how many people are scared to admit that they want to vote yes – and how many are scared to admit they want to vote no. The No side has a pretty lame argument: some blather about ‘marriage is about having children’, and how scary surrogacy seems to be, and children needing both a mother and a father (while any number of studies easily accessed will refute that argument quite handily). They don’t take into account the two-gender marriages that won’t or can’t produce children, or relationships that may emulate a single-sex marriage exactly. If you ask me, I think it’s just another way for the insidious Catholic church to assert itself into the government and into the minds of the people.
Last week we received our first water bill in the post. Anyone who hasn’t been paying attention – I’m looking at you, USA – wouldn’t know that water charges are a huge bone of contention in Ireland. The entity administering this boondoggle is called Irish Water, and everyone reviles them. They’ve already pulled millions of euros out of our pockets and now they’re siphoning even more – Like that analogy? I thought it apt – without having done anything to improve infrastructure or water quality. I’ve been told that the government will not start prosecuting people who refuse to pay until they are 4 bills in arrears. Others have said that they don’t think the government has the intestinal fortitude to prosecute the predicted number of people who plan to refuse to pay. But we’re afraid of the consequences to our bid for citizenship if we refuse to pay and end up in court. So as much as we despise the position we’ve been brought to, we’re going to capitulate and pay the bill. After all, as Americans we’re used to paying for water. Where we come from, it doesn’t ‘just come from the sky’!
Speaking of the insidious church, I am finding it more and more difficult to listen to people make reference to their god without adding my two cents. All these exhortations of “God bless you” and “God willing” and “with God’s help” etc. ad nauseum make me want to stomp my feet in frustration and ask all kinds of questions that will most certainly upset the devout. I see parents going through the expensive and time-consuming routine of offering their daughters up as brides to the christ (aka communion) because they don’t want their children to feel “left out” while they themselves claim not to be religious or even attend church on a regular basis. Ireland actually has blasphemy laws on the books under which one could theoretically be prosecuted for saying something against someone else’s god! There’s an atheist group that I think I should join – and I will, as long as they don’t ask for too much of my time.
I like to be politically involved but I find that it’s difficult to be involved more deeply than simply peripherally, as I can’t really effect any change in any meaningful fashion until I am no longer afraid for my immigration status and can be allowed to vote.
It is 20 months until we can apply for citizenship. Until then we can only sit back and watch the politics fly.