WITH the Australian people voting last week in support of marriage equality for same sex couples, I am reminded of travelling in Ireland in 2015 at the very same time Irish voters resoundingly changed their constitution allowing "marriage to be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
This was an extraordinary result in a terminally Catholic country, where homosexuality was a criminal offense up until 1993 and divorce only legalised in 1995.
As we slowly moved around Ireland for a month the issue dominated our car radio every day. There was a lot of passion for both sides of the debate, but the radio station allowed exactly equal time for both sides.
So if a Catholic priest spoke for 10 minutes about the no case, then the other side was allocated exactly the same amount of time to respond.
Some of the sessions featured sad stories told from the heart, others were more light-hearted.
One particularly hilarious radio segment featured a playful gay guy who was a marriage celebrant, conducting wedding ceremonies in his beautiful garden among waterfalls, roses, rhododendrons and elegant swans swimming in the ponds.
His business was about to blossom big time, but he issued a warning to other celebrants, suggesting he was worried about the things they will be asked to do when marrying two guys.
“These boys have two incomes, they like nice things and they like glitter. You reckon women are bad when it comes to weddings, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he mused, fearing some men will try to outdo their friends with lavish ceremonies, outlandish clothing and strange requests.
“I’ll do almost anything they ask,” he said, “but I refuse to dye my swans pink.”
Another radio panellist was asked: “Should same sex couples be allowed to adopt children?”
He didn't hesitate.
“Should they be allowed,” he chirped, “it should be compulsory,” was his emphatic response, suggesting that since he is married with children, why should same-sex married couples be spared the trials, tribulations and suffering he has to tolerate when raising kids.
On a more serious note, I would like to leave the last wise words on the subject of marriage equality to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.
Speaking the day after the decision, he rather frankly described the resounding 'Yes' vote in Ireland as a wake-up call for the Catholic Church.
"We tend to think of black and white but most of us live our lives in grey,” he said thoughtfully, conceding, “The church has received a reality check and is clearly not keeping pace with modern social thinking.”
Yes indeed, life does come in many shades of grey, doesn’t it?
Now for Dudley, who was dressed to kill in his new Akubra hat, RM Williams shirt, moleskins and riding-boots. The bar was quiet as he sat down to have a beer. He was soon joined by a good looking young American lady who had stopped off in Mittagong for the night before travelling to Sydney.
She ordered a drink, before turning to Dudley and asking; "Are you a real Aussie cow cocky?"
“I guess I am,” said Dudley thoughtfully. “I have spent most of my life on a farm, working with cows, breaking horses, mending fences.”
After a short while, Dudley asked her what she was.
"I am a lesbian,” said the lovely American lady. “I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning I think of women, when I eat, shower, watch TV, everything seems to make me think of women."
A short while later Dudley settled down with his beer when pair of Americans in the same tour group sat down next to him.
"Wow, are you a real Aussie cow cocky?” one of them asked.
"Well I always thought I was,” said Dudley pensively, “but I think I might be a lesbian."