On May 23, the Republic of Ireland became my new favorite country.
For the rest of the world, it set the precedent for coexistence and equality, becoming the first country in the world to amend its constitution in order to legalize same-sex marriages — and it did so by popular vote, as over 60 percent of the 2 million Irish voters voted in favor of the referendum.
By supporting the rights of LGBTQ people, I — a heterosexual Muslim of Pakistani descent — defy the traditional etiquette set forth by my heritage. But before I recognize my creed, caste and culture, I must first recognize the one thing that unites me with everyone else: Humanity.
This past weekend, the Irish majority did the same, and now my faith in humanity has been restored.
In our world tainted with prejudice, Ireland has become a beacon of hope, reminding us all of the importance of acceptance. But this amendment does not just signify a triumph for tolerance; the ratification will do much more than merely tolerate members of the Irish LGBTQ community.
Instead, legalizing same-sex marriages will bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and heterosexuals by giving everyone the same legal right and placing egalitarianism on the highest pedestal possible.
No longer will toleration — or simply “putting up” with the LGBTQ community — be necessary. As Ireland continues to make a positive movement towards equality, everyone will be considered an equal member of the society regardless of their sexual preference.
As Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times said, “We were asked to replace tolerance with the equality of citizenship. And we took it in both arms and hugged it close.”
To the 1.2 million “yes” voters in Ireland, thank you for honoring marriage equality — but it goes far beyond that. For you, I have so many words of gratitude.
Thank you for protecting the people who were once marginalized. Thank you for listening to the habitually silenced. Thank you for enshrining universal human rights.
But most importantly, thank you for rewriting the narrative of a broken, exclusive society by allowing the world to realize that human rights do exist, and they exist for all people, everywhere.
The Poly Post, Vol. 30