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Ireland Maintains ‘Women in the Home’ Language in Constitution Changes Rejected

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Recent news from Ireland has sparked controversy and debate as voters in the country have rejected two proposed changes to the Constitution. The proposed changes aimed to remove language about women’s duties being in the home and broaden the definition of family beyond marriage. This unexpected defeat for equality campaigners and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was announced on Saturday after the votes were counted.

In an official statement following the results, Prime Minister Varadkar expressed acceptance of the outcome, acknowledging the government’s failure to convince the majority to vote ‘Yes’ on the proposed amendments. The decision reflects the complexity and diversity of opinions within Irish society.

Irish citizens participated in two referendums to amend the country’s Constitution, which dates back 87 years and was drafted during a time of strong influence from the Roman Catholic Church. The proposed amendments, supported by all political parties in Ireland, aimed to update the Constitution to better align with the country’s more secular and liberal modern identity. However, despite widespread backing, many voters chose to reject the proposed changes, signaling a divergence of opinions on societal values.

The outcome of the referendums highlights the challenges faced by the ‘Yes’ campaign, including lower-than-expected voter turnout and unclear messaging. The rejection of the amendments indicates a more nuanced view of traditional values and the role of the family in contemporary Ireland.

The proposed changes addressed Article 41 of the Constitution, which contains language about women’s roles in the home and the definition of family. The decision to uphold the existing language has sparked disappointment among women’s rights groups and supporters of gender equality who had hoped for a more inclusive and progressive approach to family dynamics.

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Despite the setback, Ireland’s history of progressive change in social policies remains evident. Past referendums on divorce, same-sex marriage, and abortion have shown a willingness to challenge conservative norms and embrace more inclusive legislation. The recent rejection of constitutional amendments underscores the ongoing evolution of Irish society and the complexities of balancing tradition with modern values.

The decision on the proposed changes reflects a broader dialogue on gender equality and family structures in Ireland. While some critics argue that the amendments did not go far enough in addressing caretaking responsibilities and defining family relationships, others have expressed concerns about the potential consequences of altering longstanding constitutional language.

The diverse range of opinions surrounding the referendum highlights the need for continued dialogue and collaboration in shaping Ireland’s legal and social landscape. The rejection of the proposed amendments serves as a reminder of the complexities inherent in balancing tradition and progress in a rapidly changing society.

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Black couple overcomes racism to rent to Chinese family, who show gratitude by paying rent.

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Decades ago, in the early 1900s, racism and discriminatory housing practices plagued the town of Coronado, barring many individuals from living in certain neighborhoods based on their race. In the midst of this oppressive era, an inspiring story of resilience and generosity unfolded between two families — the Thompsons, a Black couple, and the Dongs, a Chinese family.

Gus and Emma Thompson, who were among the few Black families to own property in Coronado before racial restrictions took hold, defied the norms of the time by renting their house to the Dong family. Lloyd Dong Sr., a Chinese immigrant, and his wife found solace in the Thompsons’ willingness to offer them a place to call home despite the racist barriers they faced.

Fast forward 85 years later, the sons of Lloyd Dong Sr., Ron Dong, and Lloyd Dong Jr., have decided to pay forward the kindness shown to their family by donating $5 million from the sale of the house they eventually owned to San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center. This generous gift will help expand scholarships for Black students and fund renovations at the center, creating a lasting impact on the community.

Exterior view of a single-story home

The Dongs’ family house in Coronado, originally the home of the Thompsons.

(Courtesy of Janice Dong)

This heartwarming tale of intergenerational gratitude highlights the resilience and spirit of unity that transcends racial boundaries. Brandon Gamble, the director of the Black Resource Center, expressed the profound impact of this donation on the community, emphasizing the importance of stories that challenge racism and foster a sense of camaraderie.

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Reflecting on the legacy of his father and the Thompsons, Ron Dong shared, “That was the big plus for our family, because it has made all the difference for us.” The intertwined histories of the Thompson and Dong families serve as a testament to the power of empathy and solidarity in the face of adversity.

Gus Thompson’s journey from slavery to becoming a respected community leader in Coronado, coupled with Emma Thompson’s advocacy for civil rights, exemplifies the resilience and determination of marginalized communities to thrive in the face of oppression.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

(Norman Baynard Collection / San Diego History Center)

The legacy of allyship and support exemplified by the Thompsons extends to their willingness to assist Asian Americans facing similar discriminatory practices. This act of solidarity echoes the sentiment that in times of oppression, helping others regardless of race is not just a gesture but a necessity.

As the Dong family embraced their new home in Coronado, overcoming discrimination and forging their path to homeownership, they carried forward the spirit of resilience and unity shown to them by the Thompsons. The bond between these two families serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in a society marred with division and prejudice.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and tent city on the beach, 1908.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and a tent city on the beach, 1908.

(Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)

The resilience and determination displayed by the Dong family in the face of discrimination, coupled with their unwavering commitment to education and community upliftment, exemplify the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The decision to give back to the community through education underscores the transformative power of generosity and empathy in creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

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As the Dongs’ generous donation paves the way for future generations to access educational opportunities and resources, their story serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who strive to overcome adversity and champion unity in the face of division.

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