Marriage Equality... 5 years on: We've come a long way!

14 Feb 2013

5th Birthday 2

Today – Valentine’s Day – Marriage Equality celebrates its 5th birthday. "We are hugely proud of everything we've managed to achieve in the past five years," said Marriage Equality Director Moninne Griffith. "In that short time, we've seen public support for marriage equality grow from 58% (Lansdowne 2008) to 75% (Millward Browne (Lansdowne) 2012).  We’ve progressed from having little or no debate on the issue, to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore calling marriage equality the civil rights issue of the generation.  And now, with the Constitutional Convention set to look at ‘the provision of same-sex marriage’ on April 13th and 14th, we are confident that marriage equality will become a reality in the lifetime of this government.”

In the past 5 years, Marriage Equality's work has expanded to include a strong, successful grassroots lobbying campaign called "Out To Your TD", increasing visibility of same-sex couples and their families in a campaign called "Just Love?", and highlighting the continued importance of marriage equality, despite the introduction of Civil Partnership in 2011.  As part of LGBT History Month, Marriage Equality – in partnership with LGBT Noise and the National Lesbian and Gay Federation – are hosting “Stories of Marriage Equality” – a discussion and celebration of how far the movement for marriage equality has come, on Tuesday, February 19th.

Marriage Equality began life as an Advocacy Initiative to support a court case to recognise the Canadian marriage of two Irish citizens: Senator Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan. Despite losing in the High Court, the case was widely seen as an enormous success, raising awareness about the need for marriage equality for same-sex couples in the media, legal and political spheres as well as winning hearts and minds amongst the general public. The campaign was launched in February 2008 with a broader focus to increase visibility of same sex couples, their families and their children, make the case for marriage equality and mobilise support across Ireland.

In the following 5 years, the campaign for equal rights for same sex couples, families and children has changed dramatically.  In 2008, no legal relationship recognition existed for same-sex couples.  Today, nearly 1000 couples have held Civil Partnership registrations in counties all over Ireland.  Debate on the issue has increased remarkably – where once there was a general lack of understanding of the importance of marriage equality, today marriage equality is a top issue under consideration by the Constitutional Convention in April.  City, town, borough and county councils have begun passing motions of support for marriage equality, with 12 councils having passed motions in the last year. It is no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be able to marry the person they love in Ireland.

"In the 5 years we’ve been working, it has been so encouraging to watch public support for marriage equality grow year on year. More recently we're seeing that support reflected not only in the Dáil and Seanad, but also in our local communities, with 12 local authorities so far having passed motions of support for marriage equality," added Ms Griffith. "As we begin our sixth year, we hope to encourage new supporters to get involved in our campaign, and to encourage our current supporters to renew and deepen their own commitment to equality. In the run-up to the Constitutional Convention this April, we’re asking everyone who believes in marriage equality to make a submission at, and to talk to their TDs and Senators about why marriage equality matters.  Now really IS the time for marriage equality.  Let’s make it happen."