April 17, 2013

IconIreland: Resounding victory for marriage

Last weekend a constitutional convention debated and voted over gay marriage in Ireland.

Made up of a third of politicians and two thirds ordinary citizens, the convention voted overwhelmingly with 79% recommending the constitution be amended to allow for same sex marriage. 19% of participants voted against, and the remainder voted no opinion.

Asked what form this constitutional change should take –  78% of the convention voted for a directive amendment i.e. ”the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage”, while 17% voted for the permissive form i.e. ”the State may enact laws providing for same-sex marriage”.

The convention also voted in favour of recommending that the State pass laws “incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children”.

The Irish Government has reacted to this result by pledging to hold a debate in the Oireachtas (Parliament) and deliver a response within the next four months.

Constitutional definition

This constitutional change is essential in the fight for gay marriage in Ireland. While the Constitution doesn’t explicitly define marriage as being between a man and a woman, the Courts and further legislation has interpreted it as such.

The Constitution is considered a living document, open to interpretation by the judges and the Supreme Court. It is this legal system that has interpreted the constitutional definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman.

When the Civil Registration Act was introduced in 2004, it too defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Given the nature of the legislation, this definition could be amended to make it gender neutral at any time.

Spot the difference

What’s the difference between civil partnership and marriage in Ireland? According to Marriage Equality, an organisation based in Dublin, there are 160 differences.

These missing pieces range from issues of the family home, finance, legal procedures, administration, immigration, parent and child, to equality.

It’s things like only one parent having legal rights to the children, lack of inheritance rights  for children and unequal immigration procedures. More on these differences can be read in the Marriage Equality report.

Gay marriage globally

Jurisdiction Title of Relationship
Argentina Marriage
Austria Eingetragene Partnerschaft-Gesetz
Belgium Marriage
Canada Marriage
Czech Republic Registrované partnerství
Denmark (a) Registreret partnerskab (b) Marriage
Finland Rekisteröity parisuhde
Germany Eingetragene lebenspartnerschaft
Iceland (a) Staðfest samvist (b) Marriage
Isle of Man Civil Partnership
Mexico City Marriage
Netherlands Marriage
New Zealand Civil Union
Norway (a) Registrert partnerskap (b) Marriage
Portugal Marriage
South Africa (a) Marriage (b) Civil Partnership
Spain Marriage
Sweden (a) Registrerat partnerskap (b) Marriage
Switzerland Eingetragene Partnerschaft / Partenariat enregistré
United Kingdom Civil Partnership
California (USA) Marriage
Connecticut (USA) (a) Civil Union (b) Marriage
Delaware (USA) Civil Union
Hawaii (USA) Civil Union
Illinois (USA) Civil Union
Iowa (USA) Marriage
Massachusetts (USA) Marriage
New Hampshire (USA) (a) Civil Union (b) Marriage
New Jersey (USA) Civil Union
New York (USA) Marriage
Oregon (USA) Domestic Partnership
Rhode Island (USA) Civil Union
Vermont (USA) (a) Civil Union (b) Marriage
Washington State (USA) Marriage
Washington DC (USA) Marriage

 

 Information via Department of Justice and Equality, 2013.

The people speak

Video by Karl Hayden.

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Sophie Cairns

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