Ireland made global news over the weekend for being the first nation to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, on May 22, 2015. Many are touting this to be a great social achievement for the western world, but few are discussing what really lay behind the vote.

The numbers were close, despite the media’s hailing it as a “landslide victory.” There were 3.2 million eligible voters, not to mention another 60,000 expats who could still vote. The media reported thousands returned to Ireland just to support the vote. A little over 1.2 million actually voted for the referendum, while close to 750,000 opposed. It was successful, but hardly the 60% – 72% figures touted by the press.

There are many aspects of this vote that should give all people pause. It’s been a hailed triumph over religion, over tradition, over a variety of societal elements that progressives have looked to destroy since the 1960s. When we look beyond the hype and fanfare, we see it really means that even governments are at the mercy of corporations. What is perhaps more alarming, foreign entities have the power to pressure governments to bend to their will.

The campaigns for and against were much the same as most political and social campaigns. The corporations backed the pro-gay “Yes” campaign, which enjoyed donations over several years totaling millions of dollars. The “No” campaign was grassroots funded and had around €200,000. The “Yes” campaign was backed by lobbyist groups in the United States and other nations. As expected, any parties  who opposed were demonized  and silenced.

If we look at the broader picture, we clearly see what is happening. The legislation is never about who “likes gays” and who “doesn’t like gays,” although that’s what it is commonly reduced to. It’s about corporations influencing, or even threatening, governments and state or national economies without consequence. Here are various excerpts that demonstrate dubious corporate influence:

“‘… the new generation of business leaders, especially those from Silicon Valley, do not want any taint of anti-gay discrimination in countries they do business in. Foreign investment comes down essentially to which cities (more than countries) you want to be in. To send your people to, and to hire and build in. Millennials only want to live in the cities. Modern cities are synonymous with tolerance. You can’t apply the standards of a (relatively) conservative and religious country to your only city and expect to be the ‘best little country in the world to do business in,’ said one.” –No vote on gay marriage could hurt investment in Ireland, say US business leaders

“Gay marriage can help attract foreign investment, the Irish government said on Thursday ahead of a referendum on the issue that has been publicly backed by global technology giants including Google, Ebay and Twitter.”

” ‘Failure to support civil marriage equality may do untold damage to Ireland’s international reputation,’ the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) said in support of gay marriage.” –Ireland says gay marriage good for business

We have seen similar threats in the United States, such as with the ridiculously maligned Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. Many companies weighed in to prove their desire and intent to trample the religious beliefs of anyone who opposes their wishes, this directly in violation of even Constitutional rights.

On the surface, most people think the gay marriage debate just a simple matter of civil liberties or maybe even human rights, in some circles. However, there is a dark side. This struggle is more about corporations pushing their own agendas, and denying the individual his or her rights. They’re gaining even more power. The struggle only worsens if we factor in that foreign entities can wrestle such power away from the voters. We’re left to wonder how long before the right financial investment allows these same companies, who pose as benevolent entities now, the power over such bodies as the Labor Board, OSHA, or the EPA.

“One of the amendments to the Constitution… expressly declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,’ thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others.” -Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798