Dublin Pride: ICCL Director Mark Kelly's Speech as Yes Equality Grand Marshal with Brian Sheehan and Grainne Healy


Hello Dublin Pride!

You look good from up here. 

Really good.

It’s a huge honour to be here alongside my friends and colleagues Grainne Healy of Marriage Equality and Brian Sheehan of GLEN on this momentous day – this Pride of Prides.

I’m here today because of the work that the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has done with GLEN and Marriage Equality to build and run the Yes Equality 2015 campaign.

And I’m here today because the ICCL has, for nearly 40 years, campaigned for full equality for same sex couples.

All the way to voting day, just a month ago.

To be able to stand alongside Senator David Norris at the Dublin Count Centre as the YES votes poured from the ballot boxes and to be able to stand alongside Senator Katherine Zappone and her wife Anne-Louise at Dublin Castle as the result was declared were two of the most uplifting experiences of my life.

Matched only by today.

For today we have the chance to celebrate all of the people who truly made this happen – the massed ranks of Yes Equality supporters who, hail, rain and shine knocked on doors, knocked down prejudices and got out the vote. Brian, Grainne and I are so proud to have marched before your unfurled banners today.

Let’s remember too the brilliance of the BelongTo campaigners who made sure that voting was a family affair. And the determination of Amnesty Ireland supporters who signed up to the slogan “let’s make history” and then went out and made that slogan live. And the many, many more unsung heroes of the campaign who are with us today.

Thank you all.

I want also to specially thank five Irish Council for Civil Liberties staff who joined the Yes Equality core team – Walter, Suzanne, Karen, Joanne and Stephen. Thank you for everything that you did, and for your good grace and good humour through thick and thin.

This is also the year to celebrate legislative equality for trans people. And to recognize the groundbreaking work of TENI in securing in Ireland one of the most progressive transgender recognition schemes anywhere in the world. Take a bow, Broden Giambrone.

Now, before I finish, I just want to ask … are there any Americans in the audience today?

What an amazing thing your Supreme Court did yesterday. Jim Obergefell and his fellow litigants asked for one thing only – equality before the law and now your Constitution – just like ours – grants them that right. So now you have marriage equality from sea to shining sea.

Congratulations, welcome to Dublin Pride and to the growing family of civilized nations that respect the equality of LGBTQ people.

Change in America and change in Ireland did not come easily or quickly. In both nations, it has been the result of years and years of hard graft by thousands of brave and dedicated activists upon whose shoulders we stand today.

President Obama said yesterday:

“Sometimes there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt”.

Today, in Dublin, we know exactly how that feels.

There will be lots more slow and steady effort ahead to secure equality for other groups in Ireland whose rights are not yet respected. There will be more struggles and more campaigns before the next equality thunderbolts strike.

All of that is for tomorrow.

Today in Dublin, let’s just savour together the uplift that true equality brings.

Dublin Pride, Pride of Prides, let’s party …

Thank you.

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