Same sex: Why it pays to listen to all sides

By demonising the people who are going to vote no, we are isolating them and completely ruining any chance of ever trying to come to a compromise, writes Ellie Menton

Unless you have been exploring the Betelgeuse supernova a few light years away, you are most likely aware of the upcoming referendum on same sex marriage (and have most likely forgotten about the referendum on decreasing the age required to run for presidency).

I felt I should discuss the views of people in my own age group.

I’m going to say this right off the bat; pretty much all of the people I spoke to are going to, or would vote, yes.

But after asking them why, I discovered that all of them have slightly different reasons and opinions about the referendum as a whole. And that is why I’m writing this.

It’d be silly of me not to mention the Church. People seem to be on a general consensus that marriage is primarily a religious event.

When you hear the word marriage, you instantly associate it with white dresses and beautiful chapels and all that jazz. However, they argued, the only thing the referendum will be changing is the legal side of marriage, not the religious side. Some think that the Church therefore should not be interfering too much; voting no because of religious belief is one thing, but the Church getting involved in state matters is another.

One person I spoke to told me that while at a remembrance mass for her grandfather, the sermon ended with reference to the referendum. While of course the priest is entitled to his opinion, she felt it was an inappropriate thing to bring up in a place where she and her family were supposed to be grieving – there’s a time and place for this stuff.

While scrolling through Facebook I saw an interesting post made by a friend. I was surprised at some of his points, as he is a member of the LGBT community.

He expressed concern for the people who are going to vote no, but not in a way I expected. He said that by demonising the people who are going to vote no, we are isolating them and completely ruining any chance of ever trying to come to a compromise. He thought that even if some of their points were ones that you disagreed with, you should still hear them out. By having civil discussions he believes we can progress towards a freer, more tolerant, and more respectful Ireland.

People agreed that we are living in a democratic society. People are entitled to their vote, whatever it may be. You may believe that it’s a no-brainer that you should vote yes or no, but you should still hear the other side’s opinion, consider their points, and adjust your perspective if it resonates with you.

Taking down posters, name calling, disregarding arguments – it feels like some primary school drama.

Listening to my peer’s perspectives was interesting. It showed that while most shared a common goal, they each had different reasons for it. It pays to listen to one another.

Ellie Menton is aged 16 & a pupil at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney, Cork.

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