Public Affairs: LGBT marriage campaign shows value of long-term planning

As I said during the week, I was surprised how close the self-styled “Campaign for Equal Marriage” came to scoring a majority vote for the Green/SF motion in the Assembly this week – noting also that fewer than half of MLAs, even discounting those genuinely absent from the premises, actually voted “no”. It deserved its relative success, and what was particularly interesting was the quality shown by the campaign after the vote.

MLAs who failed to vote “yes” were subjected to a barrage of abuse, some frankly unnecessarily unpleasant, by individuals. Yet the Campaign itself did not endorse any of that, despite its natural disappointment. On the contrary, it recognized that it is a long-term game, and that the best way to persuade people to its view is by remaining generous and civilized throughout. Rather than engage in recriminations against those who did not vote “yes”, it simply made sure it thanked those who did. Internally it ensured that everyone knew this was but stage one of the Campaign. I have no idea who is running it, but it is a superb example of a well-run, ground-up public affairs campaign.

I have no doubt those who were uncertain which way to go on the issue will have noticed the quality and generosity of spirit of the Campaign throughout. For that alone, it deserves every success.

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10 thoughts on “Public Affairs: LGBT marriage campaign shows value of long-term planning

  1. Clare says:

    There’s one sure thing about time and progress Ian, it happens eventually.
    It might take 5 years, it might take 20 years, but like the abolition of slavery and equality for women, getting the vote etc, it happens eventually and the dinasaurs of history get left behind.
    I agree with you that it is hugely significant that even in Northern Ireland a vote can be this close. It would have been unimaginable in the old Stormont or even 15 years ago. That’s how far society here is moving on and times are changing at a very fast pace. The LGBT community here have moved on in leaps and bounds, and while at one stage the Republic had advanced so much further in terms of tolerance and in becoming a cosmopolitan city, Belfast is slowly catching up.
    It’s a shame don’t you think that the Nationalist community is leading the way in this and parties like Sinn Fein are more socially progressive while the Unionists by and large are continually reactionary?
    Lets look for example at the DUP executive members who are leading this country.
    We have Mr Poots who refuses to follow the rest of the UK and allow gay blood donations.
    And Mr McCausland who is anti-gay as you can get, would have everything closed on a Sunday if he had his way, believes the earth was created 4,000 years ago and Ulster Protestants are descended from a lost tribe of Israel.
    Unless people wake up to the reality of the fact that they are voting in people who look backwards rather than forwards, its going to be a continual struggle to achieve things like the equality the gay community here long deserve.

    • I’m not bothered which “community” leads the way, as long as someone does!

      However, we have had some interesting exchanges on this blog recently about why it is Nationalists are more confident than Unionists. One idea was that Unionists are in constant defence mode – any change (i.e. any change at all) is a change away from the “Protestant Ascendancy” and thus to be resisted.

      That would explain why Nationalist and Other are the designations which are progressive. It must be noted Nationalists remain anything but progressive on constitutional issues, failing abjectly to put in place real-life proposals for constitutional change.

  2. Clare says:

    I agree Ian but don’t underestimate the influence of fundamentalist Protestantism.
    The people on the unionist side in Stormont opposed to reform are brought together collectively under the malign influence of an organisation know as the Caleb Foundation.
    It is no co-incidence that those outside the unionist grouping who support reform in respect of the LGBT community are not heavily under the influence of religion.
    In contract the DUP is saturated with religious fundamentalism and extremism. It was most most notably displayed in Iris Robinson’s outburst but they all had sympathy with her opinion.
    There is an unhealthy influence of religion over members of the DUP. While they are entitled to their religious opinions and lifestyle it has an undue influence over their thoughts and actions in regard to reform and legislation. The prejudice and bigotry is there to see.
    There is no easy way to address this but people really need to wake up to who they are voting for because the community is moving more and more secular and that should sooner or later be represented in our politicians.

    • Good point (though even there, there’s also fundamental Catholicism – for which Nationalists will be punished to some extent).

      But yes, I think the reason people reacted so strongly to some of those who didn’t vote “yes” was that they saw people bringing religion directly into a civil issue.

      That said, I was delighted to see Chris Lyttle’s confirmation that he in fact endorses the Alliance policy (and missed the vote for legitimate reasons). That won’t have been easy for him, but it’s the way forward for Progressives.

  3. Madhava says:

    Marriage between parsley and sage

  4. james McKerrow says:

    Those who are for gay marriage usually base their arguments on equality. Most of the arguments against are a bit incoherent and rely on custom and practise, the Bible and Koran, and dire warnings that allowing gay marriage will lead to a string of perversions. I have not seen a closely argued defence of marriage that fefends the status quo. In addition, because marriage is intrinsically bound up with the reproduction, not just of the human species, but of society and its institutions, its culture and affiliations. Elton John is barnstorming this one, but will homosexuals who marry and acquire and raise children be in the majority, or will Elton John and others remain a small minority? (Is homosexial now a pejorative word? I use it forr universality and accuracy, not to offend.)

    More later as this is Sunday and my wife needs taking out. We can all agree that mutual time spent by those who love each other is precious.

  5. […] after the vote. First of all, it was well marshaled by those who supported the motion. Second, and as noted by Ian James Parsley, their have been little or no bitter recriminations following defeat. In fact, in relation to the 2 […]

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