MarriagEquality responds to Sunday Independent columnist

14 Apr 2008

The following is the text of a letter published in yesterday's Sunday Independent. It is a response from MarriagEquality Co-Chair, Grainne Healy, to an article published by columnist Eilis O'Hanlon in the previous week's edition of the paper.

You can read the online version here.

Sir -- Eilis O'Hanlon argues (Gays, stop whining, take what's on offer, Sunday Independent, April 6), that by raising concerns about the Government's proposed Civil Partnership scheme, MarriagEquality is indulging in "professional indignation" and "wallowing in corny victimhood".

I would politely suggest that she has entirely missed the point of what MarriagEquality is campaigning for, and why we feel that allowing gay and lesbian people to marry in a civil registry office is the best way of achieving equality for same-sex couples and their children.

As gay and lesbian people we form partnerships, just as heterosexual couples do. We live together, just as heterosexual couples do. We pay taxes together, just as heterosexual couples do.

We are not looking for anything special. We are only looking for that which heterosexual couples take for granted -- the right to marry.

MarriagEquality believes that unless lesbians and gay men have equal marriage rights we will not have equality of status or equality of rights in Ireland.

Civil Partnership will satisfy the needs of some couples but it will not satisfy the needs of those who want to get married, or, as currently proposed, those who want to look after their children.

There are already in Ireland many, many gay and lesbian couples parenting and raising children in loving, safe, and stable households.

These families currently have no rights under the law. The Government's Civil Partnership legislation isn't going to change this.

Eilis O'Hanlon therefore, in instructing gay and lesbian people to accept and be grateful for what is currently on offer in the Government's Civil Partnership scheme (that none of us have yet seen), is allowing a situation to prevail whereby children are left outside the law.

Allowing gay and lesbian people to marry is the only way to ensure that all the rights that automatically accrue to heterosexual couples when they get married are given to same-sex couples. Otherwise you are simply legislating for piecemeal rights that reinforce inequality and leave children outside the law.

Grainne Healy,

Co-chair, MarriagEquality