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READ: Letters sent to the Taoiseach about same-sex marriage

Bible verses, high praise, ‘gay fever’, and ‘Enda Kelly.’

90378141 Source: RollingNews.ie

THE SAME-SEX marriage referendum attracted global attention and provoked fierce debate throughout the spring.

It also prompted a particularly high volume of letters and emails to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, especially given his support for the move.

Curious about the advice, questions and opinions sent to Kenny by the Irish public, TheJournal.ie filed a Freedom of Information request with the Taoiseach’s department.

Here is just a flavour of the letters that landed in Government Buildings.

Some of these letters include opinions and language that some readers might find hurtful or offensive.

Anything that could identify the person writing has been redacted by the Department of the Taoiseach, in keeping with Section 37 of the Freedom of Information Act.

‘In the name of Almighty God, I urge you…’

The first thing that stands out from the letters and emails sent to Enda, is that the vast majority are against same-sex marriage, and the referendum.

Of the random sampling released to TheJournal.ie by the Taoiseach’s Department, three times as many opposed the referendum as supported it.

A small number related only to the cost of the referendum or whether the law could have been changed by the Oireachtas, without a plebiscite.

Secondly, many of those pleading with the Taoiseach used religious arguments, and a few even gave Enda a Biblical reading list, to encourage him to change his mind, like this individual:

corinthians

Another wrote:

In the name of Almighty God, I urge you to please study carefully the scriptures listed below…

almightygodcut

‘A forthright man’

Interestingly, the tone of many letters to the Taoiseach expressed disappointment in his evolving stance on gay marriage, and used a certain amount of flattery to appeal to him to “stand firm.”

This one, which labels the Taoiseach a “forthright man” with “great strength of character” is particularly noteworthy:

forthright man

Another addresses Enda as “one of the greatest political leaders in the history of Ireland.”

It says his famous 2011 criticism of the Vatican over child abuse even inspired the writer to take up Irish citizenship.

vatican

However, the letter then goes on to make deeply religious arguments against same-sex marriage, invoking – as quite a few letters did – the preamble of the Irish Constitution, which mentions “the Most Holy Trinity.”

vatican2

‘You’ve all got gay fever’

Another correspondent, in a somewhat similar vein, argued that the Taoiseach and his government had been simply “taken over” by the “GLTB propaganda machine.”

Rather than sincerely supporting the referendum, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had been “infected” with “gay fever” – defined as “an infection which plays hell with your emotions and distorts your judgements.”

gayfever

‘We could call it Kinniage Day’

The same writer appears to have coined a new term – “Kinniage” – which they repeatedly propose as a compromise arrangement, “to get you and the government out of a tricky situation.”

Like marriage, available to same-sex couples, but not called “marriage.”

You and we as a people and a country, we could call [23 May] Kinniage Day.
We could have a Kinniage House where their certificates will be legal documents, equal to a marriage cert.

‘Let gays go to England’

One correspondent seemed a bit confused about the very existence of lesbian and gay people in Ireland, called the whole thing a “distasteful subject”, and suggested they should all emigrate.

gotoengland

Disgust’ from abroad

Enda Kenny famously revealed during the referendum campaign that he had heard from a distant, gay relative in the US, who had written to thank him for his supportive stance.

But there was apparently other, far less pleasant correspondence from overseas, including this email declaring ‘shame for my ancestry’ and vowing to stop supporting the entire country.

disorder

This child of Erin was lucky the Taoiseach even received their message, given the way it was addressed:

endakelly

‘I don’t think all the dictionaries should have to change…’

After the successful referendum, letters to the Taoiseach could broadly be split into two categories: congratulations and gratitude; and concern over the consequences.

One person, writing on 27 May, was worried about the changing definition of marriage, even pleading that the nation’s dictionaries be left untouched:

dictionaries

‘My right to believe homosexuality is wrong’

Another letter began:

I pray that the victory for the LGBT community will give them the long lasting joy and contentment that they believe it will give them.

However, it went on to raise concerns that those who voted No were no longer represented in mainstream Irish politics, and highlighted issues surrounding freedom of conscience.

reasonableconcerns

‘Thank you for everything you did’ 

Although the majority of emails and letters were opposed to the referendum, or critical of the Taoiseach, some expressed support and gratitude.

Like this short email, sent two days after the result:

Thank you for following through on your pre-election promise…For once I can say I felt and still feel, so proud to be Irish after this historic result.

Or another, which read:

Congratulations on a terrific referendum campaign and result. Your name will go down not just in Irish, but in world history, as a result.

And finally, this lovely, handwritten note from one gay person, thanking Enda Kenny for making Ireland “a better place.”

thanks

You can read all the letters, emails and faxes released under TheJournal.ie’s FOI request by clicking here.

Read: The best small country in which to be gay? It’s better than yesterday – Enda>

AS IT HAPPENED: It’s official – Ireland says YES to same-sex marriage>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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