It’s been a long wait, but we now have confirmation – marriage equality is coming to Catholic Ireland. First, in terms of the constitution there must be a referendum put to voters, which will be in March 2015, but there’s little doubt that the measure will pass. It was proposed earlier this year by the constitutional convention which considered a number of constitutional changes (including a controversial one on abortion), opinion polls already show strong public support (likely to grow still further in the next eighteen months), and the government will campaign in favour.
At their meeting today, Ministers accepted the recommendation of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that they should follow the advice of the Constitutional Referendum and put the issue of same sex marriage to the people.
It is now expected that same sex marriage and a number of other proposed constitutional changes including a reduction in the voting age to 17 will be put to the electorate in May 2015.
The constitutional convention voted last April to recommend a change in the Constitution to allow for same-sex couples to have a full civil marriage and not just a civil partnership.
More than 1,500 couples have secured civil partnerships in Ireland since they were introduced in 2010.
Grainne Healy, chairman of Marriage Equality, said she was confident that the people of Ireland overwhelmingly support the extension of civil marriage rights to lesbian and gay people. “This referendum is unlike most other referenda, it’s not concerned with politics or economics, it’s about Ireland valuing its citizens equally. Introducing marriage equality to Ireland would strengthen our reputation as champions for human rights and equality.”