Although civil partnership in Ireland marked an important step in relationship recognition for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, there is still some work to be done to reach our ultimate goal of equality for same sex couples, our families and our children. We’ve identified over 160 statutory differences between civil partnership and civil marriage in our report "Missing Pieces". Through our work with elected representatives and our allies in the Dáil and Seanad, we have been able to close many of these gaps – including many around finance and taxation.
Some people may ask what the difference between civil partnership and civil marriage is. Others may believe that civil partnerships are the same as marriage, but using a slightly different term. And still others may feel that same sex couples should be happy to have their relationships recognised and validated by the State, even if it is not through civil marriage.
The fact is, loving, committed relationships between two consenting adults should be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Same sex couples should be allowed to share the same responsibilities, obligations and respect that marriage provides.
It makes no sense to exclude loving couples already doing the work of marriage in their daily lives – supporting one another, raising families, etc – from the legal structure intended to reinforce that dedication, those meanings, and – at its heart – commitment and love.
What is Marriage?
Marriage is a unique legal status conferred by and recognised by governments the world over. It brings with it a host of reciprocal obligations, rights and protections. Yet it is more than the sum of its legal parts; it is also a cultural institution. The word itself is a fundamental protection, conveying clearly that you and your life partner love each other. It represents the ultimate expression of love and commitment between two people, and everyone understands that. No other word has that power, and no other word can provide that protection.
(video via Sesamestreet.org)
In Ireland, the family (with or without children) based in marriage is protected by the Constitution from attack, and must be "guarded with special care". This means that other families (with or without children) do not have this special, elevated and protected status in Irish law.
Civil marriage is not the same as religious marriage. Religious marriage is a ceremony in a church, but it is followed by the signing of the civil marriage register, which is the civil (or legally binding) part. A civil marriage takes place in a registry office or other approved venue, and has nothing to do with religion.
Marriage - more than just a word
Marriage matters. When you say "We're married", "She's my wife" or "He's my husband" it means that the person you're talking about is the person you've chosen to spend the rest of your life with, and build a future with. Together.
Find out how you can get involved and spread the word on why marriage is vital to same-sex couples and their families here.
For more information about the differences between marriage and civil partnership, please visit our FAQ section.