For those with the privilege of voting in such an historic day

The Irish vote on same-sex marriage is today; polls close in a couple of hours. Counting doesn’t begin until tomorrow.

David Robert Grimes takes a look at some of the bad science being deployed by the No side.

Catholic think-tank the Iona Institute are amongst the loudest voices on the no side. Along with other no campaigners, their main argument has been a rather cynical attempt to reframe the referendum as about children rather than marriage equality, a misconception the referendum commissioner has taken pains to dismantle. This hasn’t discouraged Iona and their fellow no campaigners from attempting to emotively and dishonestly reframe the discussion, however.

Biological parents! Better! Better for children! Never mind that the research doesn’t say that!

Of course, if Quinn and his colleagues gave a damn about the reality of the situation, they would have found their protestations on the suitability of same-sex parents to be utterly misplaced. Numerous studies have since found precisely zero differences in parenting or child outcomes between same-sex or opposite sex couples. The American psychological association state rather succinctly that “… the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.”.

Sadly, the insinuation that same-sex parents are defective continues unabated. Fellow Iona patron Professor Patricia Casey was publicly rebuked on two separate occasions last year for misusing research from both Uppsala University and UNICEF to reach the same dubious conclusion, prompting UNICEF Ireland’s executive director Melanie Verwoerd to slam Casey’s spin as “incorrect and unacceptable”.

They’re lying for Jesus. Surely that makes it ok.

The polls are predicting a yes vote, but there are compelling reasons to consider them unreliable on this issue, partly because of the likelihood that many people will tell pollsters they’re voting yes when they’re not. The Shame Skew, you might call it.

The other big factor is turnout: when turnout is low, only those strongly invested in a particular outcome will vote, and this can skew the result to something quite at odds with majority opinion – essentially a selective sampling problem. This may have been the case in Seanad abolition referendum in 2013, when a turnout of less than 40% skewed the result to quite the opposite of polling predictions.

Ultimately, campaigners in both camps are aware it will be turnout that decides the election. While I generally attempt to hold a neutral position on the pieces I write, I feel obliged to declare an interest here, having canvassed for a yes vote in Ireland last week. As an Irish expatriate living abroad, I cannot vote, yet dearly hope it passes and Ireland becomes a more equal place. Regardless of one’s voting intention, the scaremongering from the no side is simply so much sound and fury, and should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. Their ostensible grasps at scientific credibility crumble upon even a cursory inspection, and their odious arguments, bereft of facts, should not be allowed set the tone of the conversation.

For those with the privilege of voting in such an historic day, I implore you not to let apathy rule, and to use your vote so we can be proud of the country we all call home.



  1. StevoR says

    Update from Aussie ABC online : Z

    Final opinion polls suggested the “Yes” camp was heading for victory, but campaigners for change had warned against complacency, wary of a large block of shy “No” voters. .. (snip) .. All of Ireland’s main political parties, including conservatives, support amending the constitutional definition of marriage, and the final polls put their camp comfortably in the lead. .. (snip) …Ireland would be the 19th country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the 14th in Europe if the referendum passes. Referendums in Croatia and Slovenia both resulted in “No” votes winning, although Slovenia’s parliament went ahead and approved gay marriage in March.

    So far, so good.

  2. latsot says

    It’s looking good so far. Someone from the no campaign was on the news this morning talking about the rights of hypothetical future babies to have “maximum genetic relation” to their parents as if that made perfect sense.

    It’s a good job I’m not a newsreader, I’d lose my shit every single day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *