NXF: Full and Equal Rights | Pocketmags.com


NXF: Full and Equal Rights

“Who asked who?”

Photo by David Mc Clelland

“Did ye both have to get a ring?”

“And are the two of ye wearing dresses?”

40 years ago, when the National Gay Federation (NGF – former name of the NXF) was founded, it must have been inconceivable that same-sex couples would one day be asked those questions. The NXF, as one of the oldest LGBT+ NGOs in Ireland, was part of the decades-long campaign for equal marriage to be signed into law.

In 2007 and 2009, the NXF hosted two national symposia with the financial support of the Equality Authority. The first was ‘Full and Equal Rights: Lesbian and Gay Marriage and Partnership Rights in Ireland’ with aims to “provide a forum for discussion for LGBT community groups and national organisations, as well as other organisations concerned with the issue of lesbian and gay marriage and civil partnerships.” It was intended that the event would “provide a platform for these groups to organise strategically to bring about change in this area.”

This symposium formed the basis for the ‘Platform for Equality’, which brought together a range of interest groups and organisations to share information on their campaigns and discuss different viewpoints on marriage and partnership rights.

A bigger national symposium was held in 2009, with the topic ‘Marriage Matters for Lesbian and Gay People in Ireland’. A series of workshop during the symposium identified key themes and actions that would help create a unified community campaign. A report on the outcomes was published and used by many NGOs to help direct their strategies to achieve marriage rights.

Also in 2009, the NXF published the Burning Issues report – the results of the largest national survey of LGBT+ people at that time. “Securing full and equal access to the institution of civil marriage for LGBT people” was one of the top three issues of concern.

The NXF run the GALAs (Gay and Lesbian Awards) to recognise LGBT+ people and their allies for their contributions to equality. Like many of us, remember getting energy and inspiration from the GALAs in the years approaching the 2015 referendum – seeing both role models and possibilities, being surrounded by people who were working to change our world. Many of those people were recognised in awards such as ‘Community organisation of the year’, ‘Volunteer of the year’ and ‘Persons of the year’. Those groups worked through the questions and concerns of the nation to create a more enlightened, inclusive society.

“Isn’t Civil Partnership enough for them?”

“What’s next – can marry my dog?”

“What about the children?”

Lorna and were friends, flirting and dancing around each other during the last months of the Marriage Equality campaign. We walked together one sunny evening to the Stephen’s Green shop to stock up on badges and bought matching grey ‘Tá’ t-shirts. As we went through those nerve-wracking weeks – campaigning in our rural Mayo towns and singing at fundraisers with Gloria LGBT Choir, only in my wildest dreams would have imagined that a few years later Lorna would say be saying ‘Tá’ to me and my garbled, nervous, marriage proposal.

But it was the time of wildest dreams coming true, and in that summer of 2015 when our community was breathing a collective sigh of relief, enjoying the waves of love from the country and rolling back ‘No vote’ emigration plans, our chasing and banter evolved to picnics in the park and coffee tasting around Dublin, and we became ‘Lornaline’ in a post-Yes-vote Ireland.

We got married in February this year in the Millhouse in Slane, surrounded by friends and family who were glowing with the excitement of it – bursting with good wishes for our future together, and delighted to have a ‘day out’ on their Yes vote.

“How is married life treating you?”

“So how does it work – who takes whose name?”

“Sure wasn’t it the same as every other wedding!”

Well, to us it felt like the best wedding ever, but we were also fortunate that it did feel the same as any other wedding, and that thanks to decades of effort by people who educated, argued, planned, and created change, we were given the gift of Marriage.

Thank you for your generous gift,

Caroline and Lorna x x

With thanks to Olivia McEvoy for content from ‘Crossing the Threshold: The Story of the Marriage Equality Movement’ by Gráinne Healy.

This article appears in the 358 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 358 Issue of GCN