Yes Equality played the leading role in shaping the narrative that mobilised support and created the campaign which delivered the historic 62% Yes vote in the Irish marriage equality referendum on May 22nd, 2015. Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality by popular vote. The role played by digital and social media was seen as groundbreaking, creating a campaign that moved from “clicktivism” to concrete results for the first time.
Yes Equality’s use of digital and social media played a crucial role in implementing the strategy of the referendum campaign. The digital team developed a strategy and approach for using online platforms as an effective tool for organising, mobilising and communicating with target audiences. As a result, online effort, once seen as a distraction from mainstream political activity, became a recruitment and deployment tool for offline activism and ultimately a driver of mobilisation to the polls.
The Story of YES
Yes Equality was an independent nationwide civic society campaign working to secure a Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum. It was established by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), Marriage Equality, and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). The three organisations had been working for equality for LGBT people for many years and came together with one common objective and focus: to pass a constitutional amendment to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples.
Craig Dwyer had been an employee at GLEN since 2013, working on policy and communications, and was appointed Director of Social Media for Yes Equality. Aware of the role that social media played in similar campaigns to mobilise and organise collective action, and with research indicating that support for marriage equality was strongest among younger age groups, Craig knew the potential that social media could yield in the Yes Equality campaign – if used effectively.
Craig was tasked with the design, development and implementation of an innovative and groundbreaking digital and social media strategy required to drive the message and mobilise supporters to achieve a Yes vote.
During the Yes Equality campaign, online initiatives included: