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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 28, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 26
Irish government promises public vote on marriage
Section One
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Irish government promises public vote on marriage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Ireland's government will put marriage equality on the ballot for a public vote in 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said on June 24.

Gilmore's announcement follows a vote by the Irish Constitutional Convention to amend the country's constitution to allow same-sex marriage.

Speaking to Ireland's leading LGBT rights organization, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), Gilmore said the ballot measure would go forward as soon as the government finished its analysis of the Constitutional Convention's report.

'I suppose realistically we're probably looking at next year sometime,' Gilmore said.

'The commitment we have given is that once the Constitutional Convention presents its report in respect of the part of the Constitutional Convention dealing with same-sex marriage, that report is going to be tabled, I think, this month, formally tabled.

'There is then a four-month period for the Government to consider the report of the Constitutional Convention.'

STRONG PUBLIC SUPPORT
The marriage referendum is likely to be held at the same time as a vote on other recommendations of the Constitutional Convention including lowering the voting age to 16. Some recent polling has put support for marriage equality as high as 79%.

Ireland's Constitutional Convention was convened in 2012 to consider a number of proposed amendments to the country's constitution. Sixty-six members were citizens chosen from a randomized sample to reflect the demographics of the country, and 33 were members of the parliaments of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Gilmore is head of Ireland's Labor Party, the junior partner in a left-right coalition government with the conservative Fine Gael (Sons of Ireland) party.

NORTH SAYS NO
In Northern Ireland - legally a part of the United Kingdom - the Assembly voted down a same-sex marriage bill by 53 votes to 42 in April. The measure was proposed by the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party - normally Catholic-identified - and opposed by the almost exclusively Protestant Unionists.

Gavin Boyd, from Equal Marriage Northern Ireland, said the south is moving much faster than the north.

Speaking to Gay Star News, Boyd said, 'I would like to think if Northern Ireland were the only jurisdiction in these islands without marriage equality, it would be a great embarrassment.'

Northern Ireland, like Scotland, is internally self-governing and makes its own rules regarding marriage. Even after the British parliament finally passes the marriage bill now being debated in the House of Lords, the Northern Ireland Assembly may block marriage equality in Ulster.

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