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Civil Partnerships Come to Ireland

Timothy Kincaid

June 26th, 2009

Ireland has finally passed published its Civil Partnership Bill which provides many (but not all) of the rights, priveleges, and responsibilities to same-sex couples. (Reuters) The bill has strong support and is expected to become law.

“This bill provides legal protection for cohabiting couples and is an important step, particularly for same-sex couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the state,” Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said in a statement.

The legislation provides a range of previously denied rights including maintenance obligations, protection of a shared home and succession. “Balance is achieved by maintaining material distinctions between civil partnership and marriage, in particular between the rights attaching to both, while at the same time reflecting the equality rights protected by the constitution,” Ahern said.

The Irish Constitution requires that marriage be given preferential treatment (Irish Times).

The heads of the Bill (giving an outline of the proposed legislation) were first published in late 2007 but progress was slowed by a number of complex issues. One of the issues is believed to have been the potential conflict between the strong rights conferred to marriage in the Constitution and the equality rights protected by Article 40.1.

With Ireland providing recognition, Europe now looks like this:

Green = marriage; Red = civil unions or other recognition

Green = marriage; Red = civil unions or other recognition



June 26th, 2009 | LINK

Ireland did NOT pass the civil partnership bill. The government published the bill and promised that it would be law by the end of the year, but so can the Obama administration make such promises about health care and climate change.


Lynn David
June 26th, 2009 | LINK

Shouldn’t that graphic have civil unions in a pleasing mauve or other purple pastel. But red, that’s so republican. Liechtenstein sure shines through as a hold-out though.

June 27th, 2009 | LINK

Italy next, I hope and pray.

Christopher Waldrop
June 27th, 2009 | LINK

Liechtenstein’s infamous smallness is just emphasized by this, although, Lynn, if you hadn’t mentioned it I never would have even noticed it. And Italy does look awfully lonely down there.

June 27th, 2009 | LINK

Irish LGBT activists must be doing something right if they could make this happen in a country that’s nearly 75% Catholic. Maybe we can learn something from them?

Jamie O'Neill
June 27th, 2009 | LINK

Tom, there’s no political party in Ireland against the bill, so it’s as certain as may be that it will pass when voted on. Strange to say, polls suggest 80% of the Irish population favour same-sex marriage. But such a step would require a referendum to amend the Constitution, which, written in the arch-Catholic 1930s, is quite finicky about family and marriage. It’ll take another three years, I’d say, before ‘politically’ we’re ready for a referendum. No party in the current financial climate would dream of introducing so costly a measure.

June 27th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t understand the surprise at Catholic support. Spain has same sex marriage and is also overwhelmingly Catholic. There’s a decent amount of Catholic presence in most of the states here that allow it. You might even dare say there’s a correlation between Catholicism and gay rights (okay not really since I’m sure there’s far more numerous examples the other way, but it hasn’t proven a barrier on its own). It’s only the vocal minority that makes them look bad.. Most of the laity is pretty detached from what their clergymen have to say and have a “live and let live” attitude..

June 27th, 2009 | LINK

If Polls here are right (And there has been a few) then there’s 61% Marriage Equality support and 84% support for this Civil Partnerships Bill. If a referendum for a Constitutional Amendment to allow Gay Marriage were to be held, Polling says it would pass.

There was a protest at Leinster House for Marriage Equality, which seems surprising, I’d think we’d be too timid.

June 27th, 2009 | LINK

Yes, Burr, I think that you’re right. This is pretty well what our former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said a few weeks ago in his interview with Attitude magazine. He was viciously snapped at by the reactionary element among British Catholics, who were probably irritated all the more by the knowledge that it was true.

The traditional “always do what Father O’Whatsisname says” attitude has long been on the wane, and has been further eroded by the revelation of the amount of sexual abuse by priests and religious that has been covered up by the Church authorities. When it comes to light that quite a few of the priests who have been giving you a bollocking in the confessional over birth control or masturbation have been “interfering” with the altar boys or the girls in the Confirmation class, and that even though the vast majority of them haven’t, many have been covering up for those who have, their credibility takes a very hard knock, and so it should.

Suspending priests who come out as gay or who express disagreement with the hierarchy’s pronouncements on homosexuality, and trying to intimidate gay laypeople into leading lives of perpetual sexual abstinence, while merely shunting priests who misbehave with children off to other parishes, hasn’t made the laity any more subservient either. Faced with such disclosures, ever more Catholics decide that they prefer to follow the light of their own reason on matters of sexual morality, thank you very much.

June 27th, 2009 | LINK

The Irish consitition does NOT require that marriage receive “preferential” treatment. It only requires that marriage be “protected”. There wouldn’t need to be a constitutional amendment or a referendum to deal with that. Any first year law student could make the case that expanding marriage rights to more people doesn’t threaten marriage and therefore this consitutional mandate does not apply.

This is just another case of spineless politicians unwilling to take a stand for full justice and full equality.

On a happier note: new polls in England show a SURGE of support for gay people and gay rights INCLUDING an overwhelming majority supporting full marriage equality as opposed to the “separate but equal” Civil Partnerships that they have now.

Rev. Loush
June 28th, 2009 | LINK

hopefully one day all the parts of the global map will be green!:)

Timothy (TRiG)
June 28th, 2009 | LINK

Dublin Pride parade and party was yesterday. I was there (my first Pride). Quite good fun.

Reprasentatives of MarriagEquality got up on the stage and waved the Civil Partnerships Bill at us. Then they told us that the media had been saying we’d be celebrating it. Then they tore it up and strew the pieces on the wind.

Incidentally, Dermot Ahern’s full title is “Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform”.

The three parties which marched in the parade (Labour, Greens, and Socialist Workers (!)) all favour full civil marriage. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the two main parties, don’t, and didn’t appear in the parade.

The Greens are in coalition with FF at the moment (an odd couple), and presumably see civil partnerships as a stepping stone.


And now I’m off to the protest outside the Lithuanian embassy.


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