We did not comment here on the recent referenda for several reasons. The one about the age of Presidential candidates attracted very little interest, and that about marriage equality- as it was termed- was probably the subject of too much commentary. Moreover I for one sensed that much of what was said after the result became obvious overestimated the importance of what had happened. Sometimes it is much better to wait.
Those interested in further elucidations of marriage issue should glance at two good pieces, the first by Ruth Dudley Edwards in the Telegraph ( not among our links but easy to find ) is written by a straight who would have voted YES, and the latter by Patrick Manning ( a gay who voted NO.) on his website “Thicker than Talk” to which do link.
On reflection I am not unduly agitated about the constitutional change involved- although I was certainly surprised by the size of the majority for gay marriage. Nor was I that concerned by pitiful contributions made by Messrs Cameron and Kenny- the former of course needs the support of the latter to get him out of the hole he has dug himself over Europe.
In truth the episode was not a very interesting one. The nature of the Gnostic “causes,” (nazism, feminism etc.) of which the gay marriage agitation was of course one, has been well understood since Richard Hooker analysed the Puritan case in the seventeenth century. More recently our understanding has been refined by Eric Voegelin, Norman Cohn, and Michael Burleigh. What was to some extent new was the degree to which the Yes campaign was funded by outside business interests (which was well described in a recent issue of “Phoenix”) but as Cardinal Newman pointed out in very different connection- two can play at that game!
Nevertheless Mr. Manning, who writes too little, is right when he says that danger inherent in the whole episode, is the precedent which has been set. But how grave is the threat? I doubt that a cascade will have been unleashed. After all the Irish electors may have misjudged gay marriage, but they showed their common sense when they rejected the admittedly idiotic proposal to lower permitted age of potential Presidential candidates. The culture war is certainly not over in Ireland. The coming battle over abortion will be a very different kettle of fish, even more divisive, and much less financially one sided!
I voted No. But this may have been a mistake. Abstention might have been a better choice; as, after the tumult has died, and most of the posters removed from the telephone poles, the whole sad saga reminds me of a remark made by my late mother, who when obliged to read an account of some farmyard antics, memorably announced “ I don’t mind being shocked, but I won’t be bored!” R.M.