Ladies We Love: Zappone and Gilligan
At the beginning of December 2008, Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone welcomed three lowly Gaelickers for a conversation in Ann Louise’s office at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. Despite a hectic schedule for the day, spouse and spouse kingly offered us comfy seats in the warm and softly lit room. I tell ya, it was a far cry from the offices of any faculty staff I’ve had to visit – it was the cosiest Dean’s office I know.
Annie Aura, Click Here and Orange began by discussing the outcome of their legal challenge to have their Canadian marriage recognised by Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners.
click here: Maybe we’ll start with the case, I suppose, because that was the last thing people would have heard about. I don’t know how much you can talk about it, but is that still ongoing, or are you waiting to find out?
Katherine Zappone: Yeah. Well, as you’d know, we lost in the High Court in December 2006, so it’s two years, now. In February of 2007, we put the papers in for an appeal that started that process and I think at the time we were told we would probably have been heard by now at the very latest. But there is a backlog in the hearings for Supreme Court cases because it’s the only appellate court – so it’s the only place you can go for an appeal, whether it’s a Constitutional matter or not. So, the last time we heard from our solicitor, he effectively said in checking with the Supreme Court office, that it could be perhaps anywhere maybe by the end of next year, or even into the end of 2010.
So, it appears over the time, it’s a little bit like a moveable feast during the waiting time, you know?! But we’re not unusual in that regard – I think it’s just a difficulty with the number of cases that are going to that level. So, we just have to wait.
CH: Yeah, it’s a waiting game. It’s almost two years to the day when the court handed down the decision.
KZ: Yeah, you’re right!
CH: I remember being in the court room, and everyone just filed in – there was a lot of kind of anticipation as Judge Dunne sat up on the bench, and everyone waiting to see what she’d say.
CH: And when she gave her decision, what was your initial reaction? Obviously, it wouldn’t have been good, but how did you respond, and later that day reflect on things?
Ann Louise Gilligan: What we said when we came out of the Four Courts would I think have been an accurate reflection of what we thought – which was that it was deeply, deeply disappointing to hear. And it’s not just about Katherine and I, because obviously we are taking the case so that there would be a recognition in this State of full rights to gay and lesbians to participate in all the institutions of this State. I mean, what other group of adults are told that there is an institution in the State, which is blocked to them?
I mean you do feel a sense of absolute exclusion as a citizen – an adult citizen – from an institution that is open to all other adults, except this minority category. And it’s a bit like – you know, we think back, and we try to imagine when they, up to the ‘50s in the United States, for example, wouldn’t permit a black person to marry a white person. Now, we think back, those forty, fifty years, and we say, “How did they ever work that out, and how did that happen?” And what did those people feel like, if they loved each other, wanted to marry each other? To have, for example, the United States saying, “No, legally you can’t.”
So, my own feelings – and I’m sure Katherine’s feelings – would be no different than a black person or a white person who wanted to marry each other, and couldn’t.
The fact of the matter is that we are married, and so there are states in the western world, thankfully, who recognise and understand that all adults should have the right to choose to participate in all institutions of any given state. And so, we are married – we’re married in Canada. So, one of the things the judge was saying was that the 1937 constitution articulated, although it doesn’t name men and women, the traditional understanding of what is intended as marriage – that was part of her reflection.
So, that would be something of what I would have thought and felt.
Whatever about not being over-hopeful or optimistic about the general ruling on the day, I must say I was utterly taken aback when she ruled that we wouldn’t get costs. And because I think in any democracy, a democracy is advanced by ordinary citizens such as ourselves taking cases to test the constitutionality of a certain provision in light of changing history, in light of changing times. A democracy depends on citizens of the state going and testing whether something is – remains – viable in current history. And there had been huge interest in the case – huge engagement, which hadn’t been there before, in gay and lesbian reflection – both in society in general and between gay and lesbians in particular.
So, it was an issue of public importance, in my book; but, in ruling that we would not get our costs, she, the judge – and it’s in her ruling – said that this is not a matter of public importance. And so, you know, that kind of was a double issue. And, of course, it would also render ordinary people almost paralysed of taking a case to court – that no matter how much public discussion happens around it, that such a person will say, “Jesus,” you know: if you’re not going to get your costs, you’re looking at a quarter of a million bill, and rising. And so, what normal, ordinary person is going to stand down in any court and attempt this? So, those were two thoughts I had at the time.
KZ: Yeah, I suppose it was extremely distressing then, on a personal level, and I think we tried to describe some of that, especially in the last chapter of Our Lives Out Loud. That whole notion, as Ann Louise was describing there. And I am an Irish citizen and both an American citizen. ..Though most people think I’m Canadian – they say, “Oh, Canada!”… [laughter]
ALG: As one leading member of the current government said to me one night, “Why don’t the two of you just go back to Canada?” I said, “What would we do that for?” I said, “Neither of us is Canadian, we’re both Irish citizens.”
KZ: Yeah, exactly. It’s a common misunderstanding. So, as Ann Louise was saying there that, as Irish citizens, we have the right to take the case. And obviously as it is a Constitutional matter, and constitutions can be re-interpreted, as long as people go forward, to maybe look for that.
But I think it was distressing enough the first time when we actually lost the case, we did feel it’s important to consider it, et cetera; but then going back into the courts and losing again on the costs was very distressing and we did actually go on radio that evening ‘cause we were so upset! But we tried to talk about the human experience, that it was one of incredible exclusion – we weren’t trying to reflect on the arguments being put forward at the time.
And I remember saying, you know, it was coming up to Christmas, which is often the time when young people get engaged, even sometimes it’s a time of getting married; and wanting to put out to young people in the country, and also to their parents, what would you feel like if you were told you couldn’t do that, this most extraordinary, wonderful thing? A decision that often for a lot of people, it’s one of the most important decisions that they make?
So, that’s really how we felt. Now, since that time, what’s very heartening for us is that there have been a number of legal changes in other jurisdictions in really the short period of two years, and I think Norway has recently come on board; South Africa did – there had been a judgement in a case in South Africa, for two women, agreeing that to close the institution of marriage to lesbians was discriminatory, but they were still looking to their law-makers to say, “Well now, figure out how to do this.” So, South Africa; and then, of course, California; and then the state of Connecticut most recently. But even in the state of California, what’s so interesting now is, as you’re probably watching it is, is they won in the courts, lost with the people, and now the court has said they’d hear whether or not it was actually, that it should have been allowable to run a potentially discriminatory referendum.
So I think all that’s fascinating, especially what’s going on in California, because a lot of people have the view that perhaps Ireland will need a referendum, as well. But I remember when we met some of the people who were all very active in the state of Massachusetts, and they ran a campaign on the whole method of, “It’s wrong for people to vote on other’s rights.” It’s wrong to vote on rights. Meaning, if you go for a referendum, you are asking the people to judge on my rights.
So here we are, two years later, waiting.
CH: It’s interesting with the changes in constitutions and so on abroad, and also, I think you were mentioning a court case recently, here in Ireland, which might affect things.
orange: Just back into the Irish context, I think there seems perhaps to have been a very small, incremental change in another High Court decision, where a lesbian couple with a child were recognised as a de facto family. I just was wondering – I don’t know if you’re familiar with that decision, I know that context of the challenge was very different, but – it was very interesting that the same court handed out a very different decision, in terms of one court recognising one relationship, and the court in another instance doesn’t. In a very short amount of time, really, no more than eighteen months, I think. And I’m just wondering what your view on that was, or does it carry any water to say that a same-sex couple would form a de facto family.
KZ: I think any of that kind of judgement is helpful because, you know, we are in the larger territory of what does it mean to be family, what families are protected in light of the Constitution. So I think any movement like that to create more space for the consideration of perhaps something – what a lot of people might view as quite radical change of the Constitution, what we’re looking for, although we don’t think it’s that radical. So, it does, and that’s good, and is helpful. I actually have to say that I haven’t read that judgement, but I know that a lot of people are – like yourself, studying or practicing law – reading the judgement and looking at, as you know, not just the outcome, but the reasoning that’s used to get there.
ALG: Well, of course, all case law, building on what Katherine says, builds a foundation towards the next case so there’s no going back. So, if a High Court makes a ruling such as that, when you take a case from the High Court to the Supreme Court, in my understanding, you can’t start into new evidence, or start re-trying the case. But you are permitted to bring in, as you present to them, and we won’t speak in the Supreme Court, but the lawyers who present to the Supreme Court are permitted to bring in any cases that have happened in the interval, that might actually render a more positive or a changing interpretation of law. So, I would see that, yes, it is building.
The second thing that, in Supreme Court level, is vital is what in theology we would call census fidelium – the sense of the people. Now, the Supreme Court, in my understanding, will never make a ruling unless they have a sense that the people are ready; that there has been a shift in readiness among the people for making this change.
And, again, Judge Dunne wouldn’t have thought that there was that readiness. But each of these cases – and that’s where civil society is hugely important, in my book – in the interval between a court case going from the High Court to the Supreme Court – obviously we can’t be out there, trying to try the case on the pavements of Ireland – but if there are people out there, who are, in their own consciousness presuming that the time has come and are doing a lot of work to enable that raising of consciousness, of course that impacts judgments. So, I think that that’s a fairly important point that has happened here.
KZ: Especially that it has happened here. If there is any change in Europe, it is definitely very positive (for us). They look to there, I think, before the United States.
CH: In terms of a generation support within communities and civil society as well, do you think the role of family and friends of gay people or people who are trying to advance their rights is more important than gay people—not so much ghettoised—but on their own trying to fight their battles and it might be, not better, but helpful to bring in the support of friends and family who might not be the “usual suspects”?
KZ: Definitely. I think what we’ve found having published the book is that we’ll get a couple of different reactions, especially from lesbian and gay people. It’s always very positive and also just from people we don’t even know who may not be lesbian or gay, it has been a very positive response to our memoirs.
In terms of lesbian and gay people, sometimes the kinds of the communiqué that we’ve gotten are fantastic and “we’re really so happy that you’re out there” and “what can we do?” And gosh, now, we were just having something to eat with a friends ours yesterday in a restaurant and these two women—beautiful women—and one of them had just had a child. [To AL] What was he? 8 months old? So thrilled. They came up to us because they recognised us and we were chatting. And they asked “Well, what can we do now? It’s a time when we want to go tell our story too!”
We get other responses, like an email AL got. I don’t know if you want to share that? From a young woman studying to be a teacher.
AL G: Yes, I think this is after one of the interviews after Our Lives, Out Loud and she was writing really about her distress coming to the awareness that she is a lesbian, she is training to be a teacher in Limerick and, you know, she is really full of fear. And hasn’t come out—only barely come out to herself but wonders how negatively this will impact her life as a teacher because of course the Catholic Church controls 95% of primary schools and what would happen if she voiced her life out loud.
think that is a very—well, it’s a very poignant story—but it’s a very important story to hear because, I think, prejudice and lack of tolerance in Ireland in relation to gay and lesbian sexual identity issues is alive and well and I think we really need to analyze especially among people who are gay and lesbian. Where are we at by way of continuing to assume an older, discriminatory sense of one’s self?
In other words, to assume and to live out of the prejudices that society hold. I really do wonder what would happen absolutely everyone who is gay and lesbian, in the morning, in Ireland, just stood onto the pavement, gave an interview, just shouted. There would be an absolute diversity.
KZ: A roar!
ALG: What has anybody to be afraid of? I mean I work in a college which is managed by the Archbishop of Dublin. According to every rule in the book, I should have been dismissed years ago. I can tell you this much, nobody is going to dismiss me. And so, I’m in a situation where actually my employer is the Archbishop of Dublin. Now most people aren’t in that situation. Now I know I’m an older person and you might say “Well, you know, you’ve had a job over the years” but on the other hand it is just pulling the plug on this fear. Because I really do feel that those who continue to uphold the power and make people feel fearful actually have no power. There is no power.
KZ: I would say there are two things going on here. On the one hand, we really have empathy for and understand people feeling as if they still need to cover their identity for all sorts of reasons. So we’re absolutely not offering any judgment.
On the other hand, we’re also trying to say: Consider it. Will the sky fall in? Will you lose your job? Will you lose the opportunity for a job?
I can think of just recently I was coming home from New York and one of the flight stewards grabbed me while I was getting a glass of water and he said “Are you who I think you are? The Canadian!” [All laugh] You speak for us! I can’t say anything!” And I was like “Well, yes you can.” But I understand. He felt that way as a flight steward. And then just recently at one of the most well-known hotels in Dublin, one of the head concierges said “Thank you so much. Well done. You speak for us. You know, I’ve to be careful.” And I suppose having lived through that myself, I think what I would say now is, probably there is a lot of fear for financial security or “what my parents will think” and maybe my parents could have said, “We’re turning our backs on you.”
As it happens they don’t and there’s a fantastic exchange of our letters between myself and my parents and Ann Louise in the book as well. There are all those other issues with financial security. And I think as it happens, it probably—whereas there is that great fear—a lot of it I would admit is probably my own lack of or coming to terms with accepting and loving who I am as a lesbian. And so that’s really the challenge and the more I grew into that, and [to Gaelick interviewers] you may experience this yourself or know others, but at this point it is so fantastic to be so free and out and everybody knows.
ALG: Would you all be out in your own lives, may I ask?
Annie Aura: Partly. But I do agree with what you say that it is more the fear of how you think people are going to react and then when you do it and they don’t react the way you expected at all and you realise it was your own fear. You were projecting that on them.
KZ: That’s beautifully put. Well said.
ALG: I think a lot more has to be written and reflected on this. [To orange and click here] Sorry, I didn’t give you time to answer.
Orange: Oh, I’m pretty much out, yeah.
CH: I mean, I wouldn’t make a secret of it, let’s say, but if someone asks me I wouldn’t cover up or I’d acknowledge my sexuality if it arose at any stage but otherwise I’d just treat it like in my workplace so if the others are talking about their boyfriend at the weekend, I’d do more or less the same thing.
ALG: Okay, well done.
KZ: I suppose that’s what we wrote in the book and what we’re also saying and hopefully it’s encouraging people too—as Annie’s saying—that if everyone in the morning who is lesbian or gay was completely open about that it would be a whole lot easier to change the institutions that are closed to us or the lack of security or the laws that are there.
ALG: It just would! They would have to! See, I think there are distinctions between what people think about homosexuality and what people feel about it homosexuality.
In other words, I think that there are huge numbers now who know in their head that sexuality is a continuum. This is known by medical science. It has been known since the classical Greek period. Plato wrote about it extensively. People are who they are: a minority is homosexual, the majority heterosexual. But there has always been this continuum and there are people bisexual. So most people know that and then the kind of fears of teachings and all the rest of it, of the Catholic church, some of which persist, most people think that’s for the birds.
Rationally, I think people have advanced in their consciousness but it’s the affect of—the feeling—that we need to think about, especially among people who are heterosexual. Because I think that discomfort—the failure to change what they feel about homosexuality—allows them to either fail to support in a very active way full equality because there is something in them which continues to feel, “There’s something in this that I’m not comfortable with.”
But maybe that’s their problem that they need to get over. That’s not that there’s something with people being homosexual.
KZ: What helps the transformation of that feeling is being with others, having an engagement or some sort of intimate relationship with people, knowing that those people are gay and lesbian. I’m convinced that’s the only thing that can transform that because the head can’t do it by itself.
ALG: That’s right.
Annie Aura: So unless more people come out, we’re just going to hold ourselves back?
ALG: I think so. The more gay and lesbian people, in relationship with the wider community, well then that affective piece of resistance, of feeling of discomfort around of homosexuality because, of course people’s minds were held in a mind-clamp for a very long time about this.
They really did believe if you were part of the Catholic Church that this was all very wrong. Now, intellectually, they’ve moved beyond that but I think the affective bit has to change.
What Katherine says is absolutely accurate, the more ordinary, everyday people they meet who happen to be just different on the scale of sexual identity. Who cares? Really, who cares?
But I do think, yes, it is about people just saying “I’m not hiding it. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m an ordinary human being.” We all are different. In our court case, what was argued—and [click here] was there—was just like the difference of hair colour: you’re redhead, you’re fair. It’s as simple as that
KZ: Or you’re right-handed, you’re left-handed.
ALG: So what are we saying? I’m going to hide myself away if I’m red-headed or left-handed because I couldn’t tell anybody about that. So it is about that. Of course, that will happen but it’s how you fast-forward this so that generations or lives, like my young teacher in Limerick, aren’t going to spend the next ten years in trauma. It’s dreadful.
Annie Aura: Would you get a lot of correspondence from people around the world?
KZ: A fair amount.
Annie Aura: Or mostly Ireland?
KZ: Mostly Ireland. We got some around the world when this case first broke. We do get a fair amount from people we haven’t met before and it has all been positive. And thank you so much for that. And then they tell us their story. Some of them are still closed. Others aren’t, you know? Um, yeah. There’s definitely a story after the story. So many people are telling us their stories which is wonderful. You could just put a piece together on a collection. They’re beautiful stories, tough stories.
ALG: I was saying the other night, we were chatting with somebody, I, if I was out there trying to do something, and we can’t be out there, and we can’t engage in every kind of advocacy, but I think it would be a wonderful piece of work to so address, what I call, the last acceptable prejudice, the last acceptable intolerance, which is the intolerance and lack of acceptance of homosexuality in this society.
To so address that that people and there are very sophisticated people, especially white, middle-class men, who continue to be persisting in their homophobia. Now it would be wonderful to so address this that they would suddenly get it and say “Jesus, I’m not going to be down there making racial comments. I’m not going to be down there making these comments either.” But there are still people who feel “Well it’s okay if you’re gay but don’t demonstrate that you’re gay. Keep that all away” And why? You know?
So it would wonderful if people, especially young people, could really address that question: how can we make people utterly uncomfortable if they’re homophobic? And push them to feel “I really have to address this.” It’s a bit like if you or I or any of the rest of us felt racial intolerance today, you would be addressing it. You’d be saying to yourself “I can’t mouth off about people. That’s completely inappropriate.”
KZ: I think that if a few Africans walk across O’Connell Street, you wouldn’t hear “Get out of here, n–g-rs!” You just wouldn’t do that. Even if there are still a few people who would think that.
ALG: And yet young people, heterosexuals say [derisively] “Oh, that’s very gay!” It’s appalling. They still do that. And it is time they were told to stop. Who gives them that permission? I would feel very, very strongly about that.
That happens in schools, especially among young boys who are gay. They suffer absolute intolerance. Schools should lead and say: “That is a form of bullying, get out. When you understand that we’re all human, that we’re all different, come back. Talk to your parents. I don’t know where you get these attitudes from but they are not tolerated in here and you need to address the fact that it is not he who’s gay who has the problem, it’s you.” So I feel there’s still a lot of work in Ireland to be done.
CH: It seems there are two attitudes at the same time in Ireland: there are people who like their cappuccinos and their nice lives and they’re very liberal in one sense but maybe, if faced with a question like that, they’ll revert back to their learned ways of their Catholic upbringing or their prejudices of their own or family members.
Annie Aura: Do you think there need to be more role models? Irish role models?
KZ: Role models as in people visible in the mainstream acknowledging their sexual identity?
KZ: [laughing] I think we could use a few more!
KZ: And also there are many people in various sectors or industries who we all know are and who aren’t claiming that. I think that must be just-I find that very frustrating.
AA: Do you think when you’re in that position and that people can hear your voice, do you think that people should use that position?
KZ: Well, I guess you could conclude that maybe from what we are saying. At the same, I really, I personally wouldn’t want to sit here offering a judgment on anyone. I don’t know absolutely every or all aspects of their circumstances and why they do or they don’t.
But I certainly think if somebody’s ready and feel themselves moving in that direction, we would want to encourage that. Because what does it do? It normalises. It normalises who we are. We are not so different and freaky because I mean, I’m an absolute firm believer of this 10% figure which, do you women know where that comes from? The Kinsey Report on sexuality.
KZ: The late seventies. It was 50 years ago and it was a guess. It was a guess! They didn’t have people ticking the boxes as you can imagine then [laughter] so I actually think it is much higher than 10% and that someday, maybe in another, I don’t know, even 5 years, probably if they did another survey you’d have a whole lot more because the freer people feel freer to say “Yes, this is who I am”. It’s going to go up. It’s not that we don’t have them—people like us. It’s just that they’re not willing to claim that.
ALG: I think that what Katherine says is correct. I think one would have to be very careful not to be very prescriptive because once you get into prescription, you’re into judgment. But I think it would be helpful if more and more people were informative on the point. Both young people and older people saying, “if more people who are gay and hold more positions in life where they can speak up and speak out. If they do that, it will help the rest of us.”
To put it in a general way like that, I think one is entitled to do that. But I also feel it is kind of chicken and egg. You know, if people who hold important positions in society and who don’t speak out, they may be converted if actually there was a groundswell of absolute naturalness. And I think more and more young people are saying “To hell with this, I’m not denying any bit of myself to anybody. Get over yourself. If you have a difficulty, just start dealing with it.”
If they then were leading a trade union, or whatever they may be leading, and the whole base of the union are quite natural and talking as you are. Well, I think they may be saying to themselves, “Well I’m being a complete hypocrite here. I think I better stand up and use my power in a way that is supportive of all human identity.”
KL [to Gaelick interviewers]: Have you been to any [LGBT] Noise events? Do you know Noise? Have you heard of them?
CH: I’ve been to one I think this year, at the top of Grafton Street opposing civil partnership—the proposed bill—and saying that equality and marriage is the only way to go. They’re quite good.
KZ: Yeah, they’re a group of young intellectuals. Actually they, and other groups who formed, actually we’ve met several of them are still PhD students in Trinity. But they’re super creative and very aerticulate and they’re only new. In fact, one of our colleagues is looking at what is going on in the civic sector and the mobilising of any advocacy. As you know there’s KAL, which stays close to our case. There’s MarriagEquality which is probably more serious in terms of policy and negotiation and this kind of thing. And then Noise, which can do things very creatively with a lot of boldness or brashness that MarriagEquality can’t because they would have to hold back, perhaps be more sophisticated. So it’s great that there are all different types of characteristics of actors, I think. I just think they are so much fun.
ALG: I think the power of fun and irony and humour is hugely important in changing people’s awareness around anything.
CH: I think they are undermining those attitudes and poking fun to demonstrate the flawed logic or the flawed arguments of some people.
ALG: They did another one where they stood at the top of Grafton Street and they went up to somebody and they asked “Are you married? Were you allowed marry that person?” And you know people were completely startled. So it’s that kind of raising of consciousness.
I think, is very important across the whole of society that we don’t set up oppositional camps around things that are utterly different. I mean, there are heterosexuals in our society who wish to live in partnership, and have some legal recognitions related to their arrangements; and, I think, homosexual people who don’t wish to marry should have that right also to have partnership rights.
Where the problem arises is that heterosexuals can choose marriage whereas same sex couples can’t. So, they’re actually completely separate issues. I think it’s a kind of classic among people who are oppressed, that you’ll start setting up opposition – they want marriage, they want partnership – they’re completely different. Look at the heterosexual community: there are heterosexuals who don’t wish to choose marriage. They could in the morning if they wished. We actually are married, and we want that recognised in the Irish State.
So, we’re not confrontative: those who wish to choose partnership, choose it; but don’t say well, that’s enough: if you get partnership, goodnight. I mean, that’s a South African apartheid system, which will lead to further negative understandings of what it means to be gay and lesbian. Because people will say, “What’s wrong with them, that they can’t enter this institution?”
CH: So, would you think that the civil partnership proposals wouldn’t be sufficient, say, good enough just to stop at that level..?
KZ: I suppose we would – and actually we’ve said this to the Green Party convention there, last year – that we believe that if the government establishes civil partnership only for same-sex couples, while not at the same time opening marriage to same-sex couples, they are creating, you know, effectively a discriminatory institution.
ALG: It’s nothing to do with marriage, and people need to be very clear about that.
O: Just look at the experience of the United Kingdom and France, where this other category was established. In France, it was the PACS for same-sex couples, but it was a completely limited, stripped down version of recognition, and the cap on the head is that that’s as far as you get.
ALG: And that’s dangerous.
KZ: As we move into 2009, this is where the incremental argument – I’m not sure if I would agree with it, but let’s say we agree it was needed at some point, and it happened. It is still the case in France, it happened in Canada, it happened in California, it happened in Massachusetts, so they established civil partnership first, and then they moved to marriage.
Why do we need to do that now? We’re a global community. We don’t need to do the same steps, and argue for incremental changes ‘cause people aren’t ready for it. It’s ridiculous!
ALG: Who isn’t ready for it?
KZ: We’re married now for five years. That’s like – I mean, we’ve been married for five years. Like, that’s a long time! It’s not as long as we’ve been life partners – we’ve been life partners for twenty-seven years – but, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I mean, time is just passing.
ALG: Exactly, we have to keep on the vitamin C! [laughter] I often think of a good way to look at a lot of these things is, you know there will come a time, and whenever the time comes, where people will look back and say, “Jees, how did they? How did they segregate people like that?” You know?
KZ: And if then, why not now?
ALG: Yeah! Why do we have to suffer discrimination in the interval, while these heterosexuals figure this out? [laughter] I mean, this is unbelievable. You know, it just really is unbelievable how people use their power.
There is no harm to society in opening up the institution of marriage which is an institution of love. There can be absolutely no harm to society. Canada has marriage now, over five years. Nothing has impacted the common good. In fact, they would say they’ve a much more peaceful, more tolerant, better society – for couples, but also for the children that are in the marriages where people have chosen marriage. One can keep going.
What do they think will happen here? Nothing. So, what are we holding on to? This is about love. It’s choosing to marry the person you love and be with them. What are they holding on to?
Every time homosexuals are told, “That’s enough,” just say, “Well, now, you’re heterosexual. If I am the majority here – say, suddenly, I am the majority, and I said to you, ‘No, no. No marriage for you, pal,’ you know, ‘We’re homosexuals, we’re keeping that to ourselves. But I’m sorry – here, we’ll give you something..’” I mean, it’s unbelievable. I mean, I don’t know whether you think – I just think this is outrageous. It’s utterly outrageous.
CH: It’s absurd, yeah. For example, like, my sister got engaged, I think, this year, with a view to getting married the following year. But, there are two of us, raised by the same parents, in the same house –
CH: We’re only a few years apart. And yet, she can have that option, legally. Whereas, legally, I don’t have that option. You know, and she can go – he’s from abroad – so, she can go to that country, or to this country, or to any country in the world to marry.
ALG: Yeah. It’s heterosexual privilege.
KZ: That’s a good way of talking about it, your sister.
ALG: And, I think there should be more and more of that, because I think with that kind of narrative, you touch into people’s empathy. You know, you really have to try, and it’s that affective bit, where people think, God, yes this is not right.
O: I’ve one final question – I’ve always wanted to know, where did you go on your honeymoon?!
KZ: I guess we could say we had a few days in Canada! And Seattle, we went back to Seattle. I don’t think, did we really have one, did we?
ALG: I don’t think so..!
KZ: I think that we might be due one!
ALG: I think that’s a good idea.
KZ: My parents came up with us. They actually drove up with us, to Canada, for the event, and stayed in the same hotel. And then, they were there that evening, and they went off. We had one more night at that hotel and I think that was it!
ALG: This is the other thing, you know. It’s kind of expensive. If you really believe, and you are entitled to get married – you see, this is not possible in Spain or Belgium or the Netherlands, because you need to be both a resident and a citizen of those countries.
KZ: And that’s why people are going off to Canada, because you don’t need to be a resident or a citizen.
ALG: You have to conjure up the four grand, to get there and to stay somewhere, and to get your notary, and have a legal marriage.
KZ: There actually are a growing number of people in Ireland who were married in Canada, but there are also people obviously who have been married in Spain, or Belgium, or the Netherlands, and who now live in Ireland. We have no idea how many couples are married in other jurisdictions, and are living in Ireland. We’ve met different numbers along the way, and it is growing, too. Tell somebody to do a poll on that one..!
CH: It’s inevitable something must happen, though, because, you know – not to put a downer on things – but relationships don’t always last, and there’s a law in the EU, where basically European marriage separation agreements have to be recognised, irrelevant of where you are.
So, a Spanish marriage, if that separates or breaks down, that should be recognised by an Irish court. So, if a court is obliged to do that, and they do recognise it – so, they recognise maybe a separation, but not the marriage – well, that again is an absurdity.
ALG: And this PACS thing in France is causing endless problems, because people are working just over the border, and they have a house this side of the border – it is fraught. And while this, in relation to separations – I’m interested to hear that – but in relation to marriage and civil partnership recognitions, it’s absolutely bounded by each country. And so, with inter-country, European country allegiances, it’s utterly fraught!
You know, the only way to go here is to say, “Look, all the institutions are open. You know what marriage is.” And we’re not talking patriarchal marriage!
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