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Dustin Lance Black Addresses Dublin Law Society Ahead of Marriage Equality Referendum 

Dustin Lance Black Addresses Dublin Law Society Ahead of Marriage Equality Referendum


The filmmaker and champion of American gay rights joins the debate in Ireland

Earlier this week, Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk, was awarded an Honorary Life Membership by the Law Society of University College Dublin. Asked to give a speech on the interconnectedness of story and law, Black shared personal aspects of his own story before moving on to comment on Ireland's upcoming referendum on marriage equality.

"When I got the invitation from you to come here," Black told the audience, "I thought, boy, you really are on the cusp of change in this country." At the moment, Ireland is one of the last significant Western European countries that still bars same-sex couples from getting married. On May 22, however, the country will be holding a popular vote on marriage equality, a move which is supported by every major political party and, according to polls, between 70-80% of voters.

"I have mixed feelings about rights being put up for a vote," Black continued, using California's Prop 8 as an example of the damage the "tyranny of the majority" can inflict on minority rights. "[But] as much as I wish it was a court of law that was doing it [extending rights], so those decisions wouldn't be left to the whim of the majority in the future, it still says something so beautiful about the Irish people. When you win on May 22nd, it says that you understand the value of diversity, so much so, that you actually showed up to vote for it."

While the polls look promising, activists fear the effects of religious and conservative propaganda on voters. Much hope is pinned on the participation of young people, and Black concluded his address by appealing to them to share their personal stories with friends and family, to explain what the vote means to them. "I say this time and time again: You can't change minds by arguing the truths, by arguing the law, by arguing the science and the facts. The thing that changes hearts and mind, is story."

Black's boyfriend, British Olympic Diver Tom Daley, who was with him at the event at UCD, has also lent his support by joining Yes Equality's campaign to get people to pledge to vote.

Tom Daley Ireland

Watch Black's speech below:

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