Ireland takes step toward gay marriage rights
Ireland's Constitutional Convention voted Sunday, with 79 percent in favor of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. Next up will likely be a referendum.
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"It's 10 years since [the first same sex marriage case] in the High Court. Even before then the Equality Agency issued a report on equal recognition of same sex relationships."Skip to next paragraph
Ms. Griffith says there is overwhelming public support for the extension of marriage rights, though it is not high on many people's list of priorities.
Desire for a life-marking milestone
Ross Golden-Bannon, a restaurant critic, says he has no immediate plans to get married, but welcomes the Constitutional Convention's decision as an indication of a sea change in public opinion.
"Personally, I'm not in a relationship at the minute, but the big thing for me is, as a gay teenager, I didn't have the same life-marking milestones to look forward to as everyone else. That's quite psychologically damaging," he says.
The issue isn't quite as simple as a left-right divide, though it is fair to say that most opponents tilt conservative, while most supporters tilt liberal. Political support is near-universal, though.
The majority party in government, conservative Fine Gael, has no stated position, but senior party figures are known to be in favor. Its coalition partner, Labor, is also in favor, as is opposition party Sinn Féin. The other main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, supports a referendum.
Gay rights, yes, but marriage?
Maria, a graduate student who describes herself as left-wing and did not want to share her last name for fear of criticism, is concerned at the speed at which same-sex marriage has entered the mainstream.
"I think people are afraid to question if for fear of being labeled a bigot," she says.
She says gay couples should have rights, but that marriage is unique to men and women.
"I feel gay people have been persecuted and continue to suffer in a culture that is hetero-normative, but, for a start, I feel this debate has jumped from civil partnership to marriage. Marriage is a social institution for bringing together a man and a woman to found a family," she says.
She urges caution, saying unintended consequences are a real concern.
"[With same-sex marriage] society will have to look very seriously at issues like sperm donation and surrogacy. We could have a situation where [only] gay married men can't have a biological link [to their children] if surrogacy is disallowed," she says.
Mr. Golden-Bannon says the point is that gay couples are now accepted as normal, and the apparent speed of the move toward gay marriage is actually a result of people's lived experiences since 2010: More than 1,000 civil partnerships have been conducted in that time.
"The civil partnership legislation changed people's minds. Most people who went to ceremonies were ordinary people who have had no connection with the gay community – an auntie from Kerry, Jimmy from Donegal," he says. "They saw it wasn't Sodom and Gomorra. It became normal, and every local newspaper covered them."