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4 years of fighting for love and equality
14 Feb 2012
Today - Valentine's Day - Marriage Equality celebrates its fourth birthday. In the past 4 years, Marriage Equality's work has expanded to include a strong, 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 over 169 differences between Civil Partnership and civil marriage. The aim of these campaigns is to draw attention to the ongoing inequalities and legal difficulties faced by same-sex couples and their families despite the progress made with the Civil Partnership scheme.
"We are hugely proud of everything we've managed to achieve in just 4 short years," said Marriage Equality Chair Gráinne Healy. "In that short time, we've seen public support for marriage equality grow from 58% (Lansdowne 2008) to 73% (Red C 2011). A poll last year showed that 42% of gay and lesbian couples thought marriage equality could happen in the lifetime of the current government, and we have a strategic plan in place to try and make that a reality. The fact is, discrimination and inequality still exist, and we'll continue to lobby TDs and Senators to listen to their constituents and public opinion, and commit to equality for same-sex couples, our families and our children in the lifetime of the 31st Dáil."
Marriage Equality began in 2008 as an extension of the KAL Advocacy Initiative - a 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.
In the following 4 years, the campaign for equal rights for same sex couples, families and children has changed dramatically. Civil Partnership was introduced last year, marking a positive step forward for same-sex relationship recognition, but falling short of true equality provided by access to civil marriage. Following the General Election in 2011, the Government committed itself to looking at the "provision of same-sex marriage" in a Constitutional Convention, which the Taoiseach has indicated could be held this spring. Marriage Equality and its supporters have called on the Government to set a date and release details for this important event, in which progression on same-sex marriage rights can be discussed and a strategy for introducing marriage equality decided.
"We've watched public support for marriage equality grow year on year, and now we're seeing that support reflected both in the Dáil and the Seanad," added Ms Healy. "With the Constitutional Convention coming up, 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. We look forward to the emergence of a clear marriage equality strategy by Government from the Constitutional Convention"