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The Atlantic Philanthropies

Most of their family and friends are married. These gay and lesbian couples in Ireland are tired of being left out.

So, they're talking openly about their relationships and why marriage means so much to them in the "Yes to Love" video by Marriage Equality. It's honest. It's adorable. But it's also kind of heartbreaking. Why? Because all of these couples are madly in love and have been for many years. But they can't express their feelings in the way they want to. That way is marriage.

As their handwritten sign notes, Anthony and Barry have been together for 14 years.


Anthony describes Barry as "half of me," saying "I can't remember what my life was like before Barry. If I didn't have Barry to wake up to in the morning or go to bed with at night, you know what? I'd miss that." After being together for almost two decades, they're on a mission to "keep it fresh."

Barry explains, "We have a 'Yay Day' for each other. It's basically like a birthday, except in the middle of the year. I do something nice for him. It doesn't have to cost money."

While "Yay Days" are a sweet touch and really special to them, they're obviously not a substitute for a wedding. "Marriage is important to us because we want to be equal to everybody else. ... Civil partnership is not enough. We want marriage."



Louise and Sive feel the same way. They've got two super cute and animated kids, Maeve and Orla, and have been dating for 5 and a half years.

Louise met her forever love after moving to Ireland from New Zealand:

"I joined the rowing club, and that's where I met Sive. ... From there we kind of became friends, and then a couple of months later, we started seeing each other ... She's really caring, so I'm really happy. So lucky to have met her."

For Louise and Sive, public acknowledgment is key. "Marriage is important to us because it gives recognition that we are committed to each other and we have a family. And we're really serious about our commitment."

Lora and Gillian have also been in a relationship for 5 and a half years. What keeps them happy is relishing in everyday pleasures.

Gillian is inspired by her partner's drive. "Everything that Lora does, she's really, really passionate about, and I love that." And Lora digs Gillian's vocals. "I love when Gillian sings in the shower every morning. I want to hear her. It just starts my day out perfectly. It makes me smile, and I love that."

They've got mad love for each other and also for their country. But they want Ireland to step it up. "We're very proud to be Irish, and we're very proud of our country. We just want our country to accept us for who we are and be treated the same as everyone else," Lora says.

Freda and Deborah are also looking for acceptance and inclusion. They started off in a long distance relationship 11 years ago.


Deborah explains:

"Our humor brought us together. If you can laugh on the telephone 3,000 miles away from each other and still laugh when you've put down the telephone, there's a connection there. ... I feel excluded here in Ireland, and I don't like that. I want to be included. I am legally married in Canada, and I want to be legally married here in Ireland. And it means the world to me."

All four couples are sharing their cute love stories for a reason.

They're talking about their relationships as part of the Yes Equality campaign. Backed by GLEN, Marriage Equality, and the ICCL, their goal is to educate folks about the marriage equality bill that's up for a vote in Ireland on May 22, 2015. The referendum is a huge deal. It would legalize same-sex marriage countrywide while also amending their constitution to forever seal the deal on paper.

Currently LGBT couples in Ireland can be united by civil partnership, which still excludes 160 privileges that married heterosexual partners have. This means that gay couples can't have a religious marriage ceremony in a church, aren't able to collect tax benefits, and are excluded from adopting children together or even providing guardianship to them as a couple. That's not cool. It's seriously time for a change.

How can you show support?

You can watch the "Yes to Love" video below and share it, if you like. You can also reach out to Marriage Equality to volunteer.

I live in Washington, the state with the first official outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. While my family lives several hours from Seattle, it was alarming to be near the epicenter—especially early in the pandemic when we knew even less about the coronavirus than we know now.

As tracking websites went up and statistics started pouring in, things looked hairy for Washington. But not for long. We could have and should have shut everything down faster than we did, but Governor Inslee took the necessary steps to keep the virus from flying completely out of control. He's consistently gotten heat from all sides, but in general he listened to the infectious disease experts and followed the lead of public health officials—which is exactly what government needs to do in a pandemic.

As a result, we've spent the past several months watching Washington state drop from the #1 hotspot down to 23rd in the nation (as of today) for total coronavirus cases. In cases per million population, we're faring even better at number 38. We have a few counties where outbreaks are pretty bad, and cases have slowly started to rise as the state has reopened—which was to be expected—but I've felt quite satisfied with how it's been handled at the state level. The combination of strong state leadership and county-by-county reopenings has born statistically impressive results—especially considering the fact that we didn't have the lead time that other states did to prepare for the outbreak.

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