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Posts for June, 2015

Michael Brown is not a pastor

Timothy Kincaid

June 11th, 2015

michaelbrowndvd

On May 27th I wrote an article in which I said that it appears to me that Charlotte anti-gay activist Michael Brown has taken the step from truth-spinner and fact-bender to blatant liar for repeating the false claim that the Yes Campaign supporting marriage in Ireland was funded by an American billionaire.

There is a difference between funding organizations with an ideological bent and who seek a social position, and funding an actual campaign for a referendum. This is a clear distinction and one that Michael Brown knows well.

On June 3rd, World Net Daily presented a commentary by Brown in which he attempts to set the record straight.

He spends several paragraphs patting himself on the back for conducting “the gold standard” of anti-gay activism and attempting to place the label of dishonesty on me instead of himself. For example, I describe his pack of annual protesters as “a red shirt mob” but he assures the readers at WND that they are “fine Christian men, women and children, including grandmas and grandpas”. Ya know, that sort of thing.

As for the meat of my argument, I predicted Brown’s response well.

Now Brown and others may say that this is splitting hairs, a mere technicality. They might argue that because Mr. Feeney funded organizations that advocate for marriage equality, he is funding the campaign in a more general sense. He’s not actually funding buttons and flyers and posters, maybe, but he’s helping fund groups that are pro-gay so it’s all the same really.

Which was exactly how Brown responded.

Not only is this hair-splitting, but it has been clearly documented that the push to redefine marriage in Ireland goes back more than a decade, with much of the groundwork laid by Atlantic Philanthropies, through which Feeney donated millions.

In other words, Brown claims that back when same-sex couples could marry only in the Netherland, Belgium, Ontario, and Massachusetts, a billionaire in New Jersey concocted a decade long scheme in which he would bring about marriage equality not in his own state or country, but in what was possibly the most Catholic nation on the planet, Ireland. I’ll let you decide if you think that is likely.

Oh I suppose that if your worldview is such that efforts to protect children from bullying equals “the homosexual indoctrination of your kids” or if you believe that casting demons out of a gay person can turn them straight then you can convince yourself of anything.

Now it is true that marriage equality is part of the overall drive for equality and inclusion. And though I think that no one, Feeney included, dared to dream that in 2015 two dozen countries would have marriage equality, full equality and inclusion of LGBT people into the fabric of daily life has always been the long goal. And Feeney has, for many years, given to groups in Ireland who support the goals of the community.

But the claim Brown repeated is flatly false. It’s an assertion that illegal contributions paid for a vote in which those who support his exclusionary and rejecting view of society lost and lost badly. In telling “what really happened in Ireland” he insisted that “Ireland was not ready for the massive influx of gay activist funding from America”. In other words, the only reason they lost is because the Yes Campaign broke the law and accepted a American gay money.

And it is interesting (and telling) that no where in Brown’s rebuttal does he admit that this accusation is untrue, choosing instead to double-down by implying, suggesting, hinting that what he really meant was based in fact.

Without this decade-long effort (which Kincaid cannot possibly believe was not part of a larger plan, leading up to the “Yes” campaign), it is almost certain that Ireland would not have voted 62 to 38 percent to redefine marriage.

This is what my Irish supporter was trying to convey when she wrote, “We tried so hard to prevent it, but were up against every political party and up against millions of U.S. dollars that were being poured into the yes campaign. American billionaire, Chuck Feeney alone contributed over $24 million.”

Again, without massive American funding over a period of more than 10 years, the campaign would likely have failed.

Which isn’t quite the same thing as that unexpected “massive influx of gay activist funding from America”, is it? So I guess there was no sneaky influx of foreign gay activist money that “Ireland was not ready for”, was there? But that doesn’t much matter to Brown.

Repeat the lie, imply it was true in what was ‘trying to be conveyed’, conflate the timeline, and the average WND reader will walk away believing that Feeney dumped $24 into the Yes Campaign. End result: the desired deception.

Meh. Liars will lie. Prevaricators will be truth-benders.

But as for me, I will readily admit that one part of my commentary is not correct. And for that I apologize.

I called Michael Brown a pastor. He insists that he is not a pastor. And let the record so state.

Michael Brown lies about Irish vote

Timothy Kincaid

May 27th, 2015

michaelbrowndvd

Anti-gay activist and Charlotte pastor Michael Brown has long been fond of demonstrating his contempt for gay people, his callousness towards bullying, and his astonishing arrogance as to his own discernment of truth. He will twist and turn any factlet that he encounters and has less credibility than your ordinary used car salesman, but generally he has, in our interactions, avoided demonstrably false declaration of observable facts.

Not so today.

In a desire to “explain” the decision of the people of Ireland to include gay Irish citizens fully into civil life – or to do so in a way that demonizes gay people (his favorite tactic) – Brown repeats a lie and calls it “absolutely right”.

In a hit piece hosted by Family Research Counsel’s American Family Research’s OneNewsNow, Brown pushed his theme of “tried and true tactics of bullying, intimidation, media bombardment, aggressive activism, and massive U.S. funding” by the horrible horrible gays. And as evidence, he presents a letter that he claims is from “a woman who supports our ministry and lives in Ireland”:

We tried so hard to prevent it, but were up against every political party and up against millions of US dollars that were being poured into the yes campaign. American billionaire, Chuck Feeney alone contributed over $24 million.

See there! Americans paid for the Yes campaign! Feeney gave $24 million!

Except that isn’t true. Not even close. It’s a false statement presented by The Irish Catholic and the National Catholic Register and other opponents of equality in an effort to conflate social pressure efforts with a political referendum so as to suggest that the results are not valid. For example:

Between 2004 and 2014, Feeney’s foundation virtually created the gay-rights movement in Ireland, with direct investment of more than $17 million and priceless indirect support, according to Breda O’Brien, a Catholic columnist at The Irish Times, research compiled on the blog Yes Funding Exposed and Atlantic Philanthropies’ own website and reports.

Wow, that certainly sounds damning. Except that the referendum hasn’t been going on since 2004. And most of the funds had nothing at all to do with same sex marriage.

Here’s what happened: Mr. Feeney and many others both in and outside Ireland have contributed over the years to various groups, including those who have the goals of advocating for gay Irish people. And part of their efforts include public outreach to change hearts and minds as to how one treats your gay son, niece, or neighbor. And, over time, part of that discussion included the notion that civil services should be offered to gay people on the same terms as straight people, including the rights of marriage.

In 2010, the government set in place civil unions so as to offer rights without the prestige of marriage. They argued that the nation’s constitution prohibited same-sex marriage and only through a vote of the people could that be change.

Then, a few years ago, a referendum was set by the government and scheduled for 2015. Campaigns were created to support or oppose the referendum.

But Ireland bans foreign contributions to political referendums. And, after accusations by the No Campaign, the press made inquiries. (TheGuardian)

Atlantic Philanthropies declined to answer questions about the claims, but backers of the yes campaign firmly rejected them. They said their group adhered to the strict rules on campaign funding set up by Ireland’s Standards in Public Office (Sipo) commission. The Sipo register of lobby groups shows that at least 10 of the pro-gay marriage organisations have fully complied with its rules, including a ban on foreign donations.

Brian Sheehan, the co-director of pro-gay marriage group Yes Equality, said: “Atlantic Philanthropies are not funding the Yes Equality referendum campaign. Yes Equality is fully funded through its supporters organising fundraising initiatives throughout Ireland.

“In addition we ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise monies for our poster, bus tour and booklet campaigns. All elements of the Yes Equality campaign are appropriately registered with the Standards in Public Office commission. Yes Equality is entirely dependent on generous small donations from around the country. The average donation made to Yes Equality has been €70.”

Get that? The Yes Campaign registered it’s fund with an oversight agency and the media verified their compliance. Feeney’s funds may have gone to various groups, but none went to the Yes Campaign.

Now Brown and others may say that this is splitting hairs, a mere technicality. They might argue that because Mr. Feeney funded organizations that advocate for marriage equality, he is funding the campaign in a more general sense. He’s not actually funding buttons and flyers and posters, maybe, but he’s helping fund groups that are pro-gay so it’s all the same really.

But that is nonsense. A contribution to Amnesty International is not a contribution to the Yes Campaign. A contribution to a Child and Family Agency is not a contribution to the Yes Campaign. Even if some members of each group – like most Irish – voted Yes.

It makes as much sense to say that anyone who has given to the Catholic Church in Ireland is “funding the No Campaign”. After all, Catholic Bishops called for the adherents to go to polls and vote No.

There is a difference between funding organizations with an ideological bent and who seek a social position, and funding an actual campaign for a referendum. This is a clear distinction and one that Michael Brown knows well.

But, as is becoming more and more the case with anti-gay activists, honesty holds little currency. And it appears to me that Michael Brown has taken the step from truth-spinner and fact-bender to blatant liar.

UPDATE: Michael Brown has issued a rebuttal in which he states that he is not a pastor.

NOM may have inadvertantly contributed to marriage equality in Ireland

Timothy Kincaid

May 26th, 2015

Irish no couple

The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown is furious about the Irish vote for marriage equality and is childishly lashing out at Ireland’s citizens and political parties for not structuring their country’s laws in accordance with his wishes. But perhaps he should add himself to the list of whom to blame.

One of the stronger elements of the vote was the citizenry’s national identity. This was the Irish people voting in Ireland or Ireland’s laws. And there was a great deal of pride as a people that this was a collective and national decision absent foreign involvement.

But both sides of the debate accused the other as having been funded by outside sources, especially by American organizations. And while both sides denied the accusation, evidence against the No campaign was publicized shortly before the vote:

One of the no side’s strongest supporters in the US is the lavishly funded National Organisation for Marriage (NOM). In a letter to supporters around the world, it has urged evangelical Christians to visit keepmarriage.org, which is campaigning for a no vote.

“Just like in campaigns for marriage here in America,” the letter says, “slanted public opinion polls become fodder to influence and depress supporters of marriage. This is happening in Ireland. If [the no campaign] can manage to pull off a victory, it will be a tremendous boost to the cause of marriage worldwide. Please do what you can to bring awareness to their efforts.”

Foreign contributions to lobby groups during referendums in Ireland are banned. But the “please do what you can” language used by NOM hints at an effort to thwart the law.

Also hurting the No campaign’s image was the use of stock photos in their advertising, a tactic regularly employed by NOM. While the Yes campaign made a point of using real Irish supporters, the No side selected as their primary campaign image a photo of a young couple with a baby, who turned to the media to declare that not only do they not live in Ireland, they are both ardent marriage equality supporters.

The fact that NOM was associated with the No campaign served only to give that campaign some flavor as a non-Irish import. And to the extent that NOM advised the No side on it’s campaign and image, their efforts backfired.

Brian Brown Reacts

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2015

Marriage equality opponents have been almost uniformly graceful in their concession statements in the wake of today’s landslide in Ireland. David Quinn of the Iona Institute tweeted “Congratulations to the Yes side. Well Done.” The Iona Institute’s official statement congratulating the Yes campaigners described their win as “a handsome victory0.” Another group, Mothers and Fathers Matter offered their  “warm congratulations” as well. All the major groups expressed their typical concerns going forward, but you get the idea of the tenor of their reactions to today’s vote.

Brian BrownOn this side of the pond however, things are a bit different, with the usual suspects blowing a gasket over the Irish vote. NOM’s Brian Brown, for example, sent out a statement which blamed the loss on ” the utter abandonment of principle by every political party in the nation, all of whom endorsed the referendum” and what he claimed to be an “intense harassment of any group or individual who spoke out in opposition to the referendum.” Also —

“Despite this, millions of Irish citizens stood to vote to uphold the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Millions? Try just 734,300. The “millions” were on the yes side, at 1,201,607. Idiot.

62% Said Yes

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2015

The official results were announced at Dublin Castle at about 7:00 p.m. IST (2:00 p.m. EDT).  With all 43 constituencies counted, and with a turnout of 60.52% of the eligible electorate, the ayes have it 62% to 38% (1,201,607 to 734,300 in raw vote counts). Only one constituency, Roscommon-South Leitrim, voted against marriage equality, and even there it was fairly close at 48.6% to 51.4%. With this vote, the following text will be added to Article 41 of the Irish Constitution:

Féadfaidh beirt, gan beann ar a ngnéas, conradh pósta a dhéanamh de réir dlí.

Which means,

Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.

The Irish Times describes what happens next:

To give effect to the amendment, the Oireachtas will enact the Marriage Bill 2015, which will state in law for the first time the principle that being of the same sex is no longer an impediment to marriage. Officials in the Department of Justice will begin drafting the legislation next week. A spokesman said the Bill would be prioritised with a view to it being passed by the Oireachtas before the summer recess.

…When the Marriage Bill has been drafted, it will go to Cabinet for a formal sign-off. It will then be enacted by the Oireachtas – probably in July – before practical work is done on changing marriage forms and procedures. Finally, the Minister for Justice will sign a commencement order.

A three-month notice period for civil marriages means that, all going to plan, the first same-sex marriage in Ireland could take place before Christmas.

Civil partnerships will not be automatically upgraded to marriage, but will remain in effect. No new civil partnerships will be issued once the Marriage Act goes into effect.

 

Yes!

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2015
Ireland election officials count their votes the tried-and-true way. No hanging chads here.

Ireland election officials count their votes the tried-and-true way. No hanging chads or fiddly electronics here.

Irish eyes were already smiling this morning before the official referendum count began with reports of heavy turnout in Dublin and comparatively light turnout in the rural areas. This news, many observers felt, would bode very well for the marriage equality referendum. The official hand-count began at 9:00 local time, and by 9:14 there were already strong results from Dublin North with marriage equality being approved with a 65% to 70% yes vote. As other constituencies began reporting similar margins, the yes count had already gathered into an obvious landslide by 9:30, with even a number of rural constituencies throwing their weight onto the yes side’s lead. The “no” side tweeted their concession to the yes campaign at 10:00.Ballot counting is continuing, so the final count hasn’t been released yet. But when all is said and done, Irish voters will have approved marriage equality with an astounding 2:1 margin:

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has predicted that the referendum will carry in Dublin with a 70-30 Yes majority.

He said he thought other cities in Ireland, including Limerick, Galway and Waterford, would be close at 60-40

He said he believed even in rural conservative constituencies we were seeing 50-50 and that some might be a slight majority for No and others would be a slight majority for Yes.

Minister Coveney said right across the country there is a big endorsement of a new attitude towards a minority that had been discriminated against for far too long.

This makes Ireland the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality through a popular vote. Here’s a likely timeframe going forward, from an Irish Times reporter:

#Hometovote

Timothy Kincaid

May 22nd, 2015

Today Ireland votes on whether to amend their constitution to allow same-sex marriage. And while this is a simple matter, allowing gay people to avail themselves of full inclusion in society, it is seen as something larger: a chance for Ireland to do something no other nation has done, vote as a people for marriage equality.

For many young Irish this has become more than an issue about the rights of gay people, it has become a statement on how they view their ethnic heritage and their place in the world.

So much so, that many who are living abroad are making effort to get back to Ireland to vote in the referendum. Using the Twitter hashtag #hometovote, a good many young Irish are documenting their efforts to travel back from places as far away as Africa, Asia and the Americas to be part of this monumental change.

Ireland Goes to the Polls

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2015

Irish voters today will consider a very important question, the outcome of which would make available a very important institution to larger numbers of Irish citizens: whether to lower the minimum age from 35 to 21 for those running for President.

I have no idea how that referendum will go since it’s hard to find any polling data on this important question. That’s because everyone is talking about the other question on today’s ballot, whether to enshrine marriage equality for same-sex couples in Irish law. On that question, one major poll (PDF: 1.1MB/5 pages) commissioned for The Sunday Independent shows the yes vote for marriage equality outpaces the opposition by 69% to 31% — but that is after excluding the undecideds:

But as always, there is more to this than meets the eye. Let’s look at the figures including the potential floating voters – they account for nearly one in four. On this basis, support for the plebiscite is just over half (53pc – down significantly by thirteen points), whilst the No side has shifted marginally upwards by three to 24pc.

…Much has been said about the “silent No” vote. In light of the UK election, and the “Shy Tory” theory, this may be the case for some. Even still, the Yes side’s lead seems unassailable. The fear for them will not be the silent No vote, but rather the danger of complacency, and the effect this will have on turnout.

With headlines assuring the public that the marriage referendum enjoys wide support, the actually turnout will be key. If turnout is low — especially if younger people fail to cast their ballots — then it will likely disproportionately affect the yes vote. Another wild card is Irish expats, who will also have a say. This trainload of expats from London looks promising, and the #hometovote hashtag is trending on Twitter. Turnout looks good in the early going, but with the high number of undecideds, this one isn’t in the bag. Polls will be open until 10:00 p.m. IST. Vote counting begins Saturday at 9:00 a.m. IST (4:00 a.m. EDT), with solid returns expected about three to four hours later. The Irish Times is live-blogging it here.

A very direct and touching story from the Irish Referendum

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2015

One week from today, the people of Ireland will vote on whether to change their constitution so as to allow same sex couples to marry. The move has the backing of the Government and, though opposed by the Church, is polling favorably.

It is also starting conversations where they might not have otherwise arisen. One such discussion is the one that Ursula Halligan is having with the Irish people.

Halligan is the political editor of Ireland’s main independent television station, TV3. Ireland knows her well. But today Ireland knows her better. Today she told her story.

I was a good Catholic girl, growing up in 1970s Ireland where homosexuality was an evil perversion. It was never openly talked about but I knew it was the worst thing on the face of the earth.

So when I fell in love with a girl in my class in school, I was terrified. Rummaging around in the attic a few weeks ago, an old diary brought me right back to December 20th, 1977.

“These past few months must have been the darkest and gloomiest I have ever experienced in my entire life,” my 17-year-old self wrote.

So Halligan slammed the door on that closet and cowered inside for the next 37 years.

I’ll not repeat her testimony here. It’s very personal and very moving and you should read it all.

Ireland moves towards equality

Timothy Kincaid

April 17th, 2013

For years, Ireland’s politicians have said, “I support gay marriage, truly I do, but the constitution won’t let me vote for equality.”

That’s changing: (CS Monitor)

Ireland’s Constitutional Convention, a body set up by the government to propose wide-ranging changes to Ireland’s Constitution, voted Sunday, with 79 percent in favor of extending marriage rights to same sex couples.

The next step is likely a referendum. The Irish, living in a good Catholic country, overwhelmingly support equality.

Britain Suspends All Foreign Aid To Uganda

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2012

Not because Uganda may be poised to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill soon, but because corruption in Uganda is so rampant that the UK has no idea where its money has gone.

Britain has suspended all direct aid to the Ugandan government with immediate effect, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, announced on Friday.

Aid to the Ugandan prime minister’s office was frozen in August, following allegations of fraud, while an independent forensic audit was ordered. Greening has now suspended other bilateral aid, which is spent through Uganda‘s financial systems, known as direct financial aid.

…”Britain has frozen all UK aid spent through the Ugandan government. This is a result of initial evidence emerging from our ongoing forensic audit of the office of the prime minister, which indicates aid money may have been misused,” said DfID. “We are extremely concerned by these preliminary findings and we will assess the decision further when we have considered the full findings of the report. Unless the government of Uganda can show that UK taxpayers’ money is going towards helping the poorest people lift themselves out of poverty, this aid will remain frozen and we will expect repayment and administrative and criminal sanctions.”

Auditors discovered that joint foreign aid funding from Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden to the tune of €12 million  (£10 million, US$15 million) have mysteriously shown up in the private bank accounts of officials in prime minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s office. Those countries and Britain suspended its aid to the Prime Minister’s office in August, and Britain has now expanded that freeze to include the entire Ugandan government. Britain was due to provide £11.1 million (US$17.7 million) in direct aid between now and the end of March. Total bilateral aid for the year was set for £98.9 million (US$157 million), but it’s not clear how much of that bilateral aid has already been spent.

Ireland’s Tánaiste pushing for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

November 13th, 2012

From Irish Times

Tánaiste [deputy prime minister] Eamon Gilmore would like to see a referendum on same-sex marriage “as soon as possible”, he said today.

Mr Gilmore said his own view was the “time has come” for marriage of same-sex couples. “I don’t believe we should postpone what is a human right,” he told RTÉ radio.

The referendum would come in advance of Ireland’s upcoming constitutional convention.

So thats why it’s called that

Timothy Kincaid

April 2nd, 2012

From ABC we have this:

A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland has found himself in hot water after he accidentally displayed a series of pornographic gay images during a presentation to parents of children preparing to receive First Holy Communion.

Father Martin McVeigh projected 16 “indecent images of men” on a projector screen during a March 26 PowerPoint presentation to a group of 26 parents at St. Mary’s School in Pomeroy, Ireland, the BBC reports.

Naturally Father McVeigh has no idea where those pictures came from or how they ended up on the memory stick he inserted into the computer. Here we call such a device a flash drive.

Why the word “marriage” matters

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2011

Many people – and I used to be one of them – believe that domestic partnerships are an adequate response to the needs of same-sex couples and that our battle over the word “marriage” is a distraction, an unnecessary obstacle that alienates potential supporters and does not take the feeling of others into consideration. I have grown beyond that position, and now see that our goal of marriage is an essential one, for a number of reasons.

First, I understand that at this point in our progress, the selection of domestic partnerships or civil unions rather than marriage is specifically designed to make a statement that same-sex unions are inferior. As the language in one of Hawaii’s proposed civil unions bills puts it:

The legislature also acknowledges the traditional and special role of marriage in our society and seeks to protect it by establishing a new and separate status for these other loving and committed relationships. In order to both respect traditional marriage and provide equity to other couples, it is the intent of the legislature to recognize civil unions in Hawaii.

Secondly, I have serious doubts about the ability of a secondary, lesser-status institution to consistently provide equal access, services, or application of law. Separate but equal has seldom proven in history to be nearly as equal as it was separate.

Third, I believe that same-sex couples are entitled to the social and societal connotations that come with the word, customs, and traditions of marriage and that this are in the best interest of society. I believe that calling our unions something else can reduce important social expectations both on the part of those in the couple and the demands that the community place on married couples.

From many first hand reports, it seems that marriage changes people in ways that civil unions or domestic partnerships have not yet fully accomplished. “I’m married now,” seems to have a great deal of internal meaning.

But perhaps the most obvious reasons for eliminating the hodge-podge patchwork of nomenclatures created to make sure that same-sex couples aren’t really married, is that they are confusing. No one knows what they mean.

By my counting, same-sex couples are currently recognized by means of marriage, common-law marriage, civil union, civil partnership, domestic partnership with full equality, limited domestic partnership, registered partnership, unregistered partnership, life partnership, PACS, law of same-sex relationship, reciprocal benefits, itemized specific rights, and (most frequently) not at all. It’s no wonder that it is confusing.

And I’m not just talking about your Aunt Matilda who gets the newspaper so she can play WordSearch. The Republic of Ireland has no idea what rights or privileges are granted by what scheme.

This year Ireland, as part of it’s new civil partnerships law, decided to recognize marriages – and similar institutions – from other nations as civil partnerships within its borders. And so, with Statutory Instrument 649, Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice and Law Reform, announced which other nations and states would have their forms recognized:

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Mexico City, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Also, from the United States, Ireland will recognize California (marriages only), Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington D.C.

What is missing? Domestic Partnerships in California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada which offer every right, privilege, obligation and duty of marriage, but with another name.

Ireland picked up New Jersey’s civil unions, but they simply had no idea what a “domestic partnership” might be. They also missed civil unions from Andora, Uruguay, and Equador along with Luxembourg’s civil partnerships.

But they didn’t miss any countries that recognize marriage. There’s no confusion there.

Ireland formally recognizes same-sex couple

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2011

Although civil unions (which became legal at the beginning of the year) require a three month notice period under the laws of the Republic of Ireland, the nation began recognition of same-sex couples married abroad on Thursday. And on that day, officials officially recognized one such couple. (IrishTimes)

The couple, who work at Argos, formed a civil partnership at a ceremony in Northern Ireland last year.

Like other same-sex couples with a previous foreign civil marriage or partnership, their union became recognised under Irish law since last Thursday.

[But in the case of Glenn Cunningham and Adriano Vilar], there was a twist. On that same day, by chance, the pair were on a day off and at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service offices trying to sort out Vilar’s residency status. He is Brazilian and has been living here on a student visa for the past two years or so.

“At first the officials didn’t know what to do, they’d never dealt with a legally binding civil partnership involving a gay couple,” recalls Mr Cunningham (43). “Eventually, the officials came back and said: ‘Congratulations – you’re the first couple in Ireland to be recognised as civil partners’. We were shocked – we couldn’t believe it!”

Mr Villar (29), adds: “My reaction was like, ‘Wow-wee, yahoo! Really?’ I’ve always felt quite insecure – only living here on a student visa. We went off and got a bottle of champagne to celebrate.”

Congratulations to Glenn and Adriano and to the many other Irish couples who now have, or soon will have, recognition in their homeland.

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