The campaign to win marriage equality in Ireland actually began many years ago, and during that time many video messages were produced to advance the cause. Some of them are among the best I’ve ever seen, so I wanted to share them all together, even though I’ve already posted many of them.
The story begins, in a sense, with the Irish election on February 25, 2011. The new Irish government planned to change the country’s constitution to enact marriage equality. That’s when the campaign most of us know about began.
However, the campaign actually began years earlier. The first ad I saw was from the group Marriage Equality, which began advocating for civil marriage equality back in 2008. The following year, the group posted their first ad, “Sinead’s Hand”, which brilliantly points out the offensive absurdity of having to ask others for the right to marry. More subtly, the ad was also generating sympathy for gay people because having to ask for the right to marry was unfair.
Marriage Equality’s “Rory’s Story”, from 2011, plainly and simply explained why the country’s civil partnership laws weren’t good enough: In this case, because “civil partnership neglects the rights between a child and his or her non-biological parent, and the consequences are real.” The ad ends with a title card displaying the text “Civil partnership is not Marriage Equality”.
Some of the best ads were made by BeLonG To Youth Services. The first of their videos I saw in what was already the Yes vote campaign, was “It’s in your hands”, in late 2014. It was encouraging young people to register to vote so that they could help “make Ireland a more equal place for our LGBT friends.” Since young people are overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality in every Western nation, this was a very smart move. It was also an absolutely brilliant ad—one of the best I’d ever seen.
But the single best ad I’ve ever seen was also from BeLonG To, “Bring Your Family With You”. The ad brilliantly places the Yes vote in the context of family. It made no attempt to make the intellectual arguments (they had other online videos for that), but instead sought only to make people care about voting, to motivate them to put their love for their family and friends into action by voting Yes, together. It played right into Irish values
There were plenty of other messages, too. For example, Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll, star of top-rating Mrs. Brown’s Boys, made a Vote Yes video as his character, Mrs. Agnes Brown. The message is simple, direct, and well done.
Also placing the Yes vote in the context of Irish culture were videos like Yes Equality’s “Marriage & Family Matter - Hurlers for Yes”. Hurling is a very big sport in Ireland.
Summing up all this messaging is “Every Vote Counts!”, also from Yes Equality. I think it’s a really good look at the campaign in Ireland, and the various ways the messaging was used and reinforced. It’s a feel-good, positive video—as all the messaging was.
Below, I’ve included links to the various YouTube channels most of these videos are from. It’s well worth checking them out to see some of the other video messaging done, particularly the personal stores that were shared, because they helped win the day. There were plenty of other videos posted by all sorts of people, far too numerous to mention. And, obviously, I’m not sharing any of the “no” videos on my blog because, well, no—just no.
Not all of the work done in Ireland will be applicable to other countries, but much of it will be. Since young people support equality so overwhelmingly, it’s vital to engage and energise them. This is why the social media aspects of the campaign were so important.
However, what mattered most was that it was a simple issue that people cared about a LOT. Along the way, Ireland really did have a “national conversation” because of this campaign, and I have no doubt that theirs is a better society for it. I hope all of this serves as a useful example for other places, Australia and Northern Ireland in particular.
So, my deepest and heartfelt congratulations and thanks to everyone who took part in the Yes campaign. You all were absolutely brilliant.
The YouTube Channels for all the organisations I’ve mentioned:
BeLonG To Youth Services