Fine Gael votes to prioritise marriage equality in the Constitutional Convention

31 Mar 2012

Marriage Equality have welcomed news that Fine Gael delegates at this weekend's Ard Fheis have voted in favour of ensuring that the upcoming Constitutional Convention "prioritises an analysis of the proposals for same-sex marriage in Ireland." The motion was put forward by Mark O'Meara of Young Fine Gael. Speeches in favour of the motion were given by Catherine Byrne, TD for Dublin South Central, and Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence.

"We are delighted that Fine Gael delegates have voted to prioritise marriage equality in the Constitutional Convention," said Marriage Equality Director Moninne Griffith, speaking from the Fine Gael Ard Fheis. "73% of Irish people recently said they are in favour of marriage equality being enshrined in the Constitution - all we need now is for the legislation to catch up to public opinion. We will be engaging in debate with the members of the Convention, and other stakeholders, as to how marriage equality can be introduced as quickly as possible."

The Government recently published its proposals for the Constitutional Convention, which will be made up of 66 members of the general public, 33 Oireachtas members and parliamentarians from Northern Ireland, and one chairperson. Marriage Equality is committed to fully engaging with the Constitutional Convention, and has urged supporters to contact their elected representatives to ensure that the voices of those affected by the marriage ban - gay and lesbian couples, their families and children - are heard during the process.

The marriage ban in Ireland currently affects up to 10% of the population in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Initial census figures released on Thursday found over 4000 cohabiting same sex couples, including 230 same sex couples with children, though these figures are thought to be under-representative. With over 160 differences between civil partnership and civil marriage, these inequalities are having a real impact on same sex couples, our families and our children. The Constitutional Convention presents an important opportunity to protect these couples and families, and to ensure that they are treated equally under the law by enshrining marriage equality in the Irish Constitution.

"The Constitutional Convention is our chance to set out our values as Irish people, and to ensure that they are enshrined in the Constitution. This is our chance to show that we believe in equality, fairness, doing the right thing, and respect for difference and diversity, and to have these values protected in the Constitution," added Ms Griffith. "73% of the population in favour of marriage rights for same sex couples - that is a strong majority of people who believe that denying someone the right to marry the person they love is wrong. With FG members now calling on Government to make marriage equality a priority issue, these next few months will be critical for our campaign, as we move closer to achieving equality for same-sex couples, our families and our children. We're looking forward to the day - hopefully in the near future - when Ireland joins countries such as Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal in legalising marriage equality for same-sex couples, our families and our children."