Marriage v Civil Partnership

IMG_3694Though the Irish Government's enactment of the Civil Partnership Act 2010 marked a watershed in Irish history for the lesbian and gay community, Marriage Equality shares the view of other civil rights organisations that Civil Partnerships have created a scheme that falls way short of marriage equality, and creates a separate and unequal system of relationship recognition for same sex couples.

Some people may ask what the difference is. Others may believe that Civil Partnerships are equal to 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.

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.

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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

Aoife and Niamh # 7Marriage 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.

In the daily struggle to make marriage equality a reality in Ireland, we are always meeting challenges. With the new Civil Partnership legislation, it is up to each and every one of us to make sure that the marriage equality debate is not taken off the table, and that the momentum for the campaign is not lost.

For more information about the differences between marriage and civil partnership, please visit our FAQ Section.