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WATERWORKS FOR EQUALITY

Every parent should watch this moving Irish marriage equality ad

Today, May 22, Irish citizens across the country go to the polls in a national referendum that could ultimately legalize gay marriage in the European nation of approximately 4.6 million.

While the results of the vote won’t be known until Saturday, Ireland’s LGBT advocates already have an edge on the PR front, courtesy of several impressive video campaigns.

The most recent ad, created by a coalition of equality organizations known as BeLonG To, shows why anti-marriage equality advocates may be fighting an uphill battle. Featuring a bevy of famous Emerald Isle actors including Sarah Jane Seymour and Brian Gleeson, the PSA shows daughters and sons joining their parents at the polls to vote yes.

The ad’s focus on bridging a generational divide is likely to resonate in Ireland. Vestiges of the country’s Roman Catholic heritage can still be observed in the country’s tradition of social conservatism—for example, its draconian ban on abortions. But the tide appears to be turning in younger generations: The Associated Press notes that at a polling station in northeast Dublin, voters under 40 years old were much more likely to say they voted yes than their older counterparts.

Here in the US, where I live, a majority of voters now support same-sex marriage, but views break down similarly by generation. Gallup reports that Americans 65 and above are still more likely to oppose gay marriage.

That gap is a painful one here as well. For people my age (late 20s) and slightly older, this greying generation isn’t a demographic that can be dismissed as out-of-touch or irrelevant. These are our aunts and uncles, our mentors, and our teachers. It’s also a generation that remembers an era when homosexuality was still something best kept to oneself.

Perhaps that’s why this particular ad resonated with me so much. For the first half of my 20s I hid my lesbian identity from my family, terrified that I would somehow disappoint the people I respect the most. I can only imagine how it would feel to have the opportunity to walk arm-in-arm with my parents to the polls.

Do the right thing today, Ireland. Your sons and daughters—and your mothers and fathers—are depending on you.

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