good luck

Could Ireland Legalize Civil Unions Without a Single Opposing Vote?

Maybe! But it’d be on a technicality. Ireland’s lower parliament, known as the Dail, today approved the Civil Partnership Bill, legalizing same-sex partnerships (different from marriage!), and you could say it happened “unanimously,” if only because there was no individual thumbing up or down, which confuses me because that sounds like an awesome way to do The Lawmaking! The bill now heads to the Seanad, where legislators will be asked to blink once for “yes” or twice for “no,” or three times for “oh whatever.” Also, wasn’t there a lot of applause a year ago this week when Irish legislators uh, did the exact same thing? I can barely understand Irish accents (like my grandmother’s), let alone Irish politics.

Update: Thanks to commenter Paschal for clarifying how this all works.

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  • MyGayRant

    Kiss me boys, I’m Irish! Any move in a positive direction for gay rights calls for a pint of ale in my book.

  • Joseph brennan

    Last year they tryed to make co-habitation rights exsteded to gays but that failed miserable. Everybody wanted This and now it’s finally happening!

  • Jae

    Not everybody wanted this, some people are keeping the light on for full equality rather than this halfway house.

  • Dave

    America would have Civil Unions as well if the people weren’t so hung up on the word marriage! Repeal Doma and go for Civil Unions…a gay marriage will never be equal to a straight marriage for the simple fact that we are same-sex =)

  • Who Cares

    WOW…now I´ll be able to marry a leperchaun

  • Paschal

    This bill has two parts. One part allows someone who cohabitates for at least five years to ask a judge to order the other partner in the realtionship to give financial support. This part applies to all unmarried straight and gay couples. The second part only applies to gay couples. It grants automatic, marriage-like rights (i.e. a judicial order is not required) to gay couples who register their relationships. Gay couple’s children, howver, are not recognised as their children. Ireland only allows single gays to adopt and gay couples to jointly foster, not adopt.

    This is the same bill which was mentioned last year. There are five stages in passing a law in a house of the Oireachtas (parliament, pronounced ”er-ok-tis”). Around this time last year the first stage occured. Last December the second stage began which was the bill’s introduction into the Oireachtas, specifically the lower house known as Dáil Éireann (pronounced ”dawl air-in”). The speaker of the Dáil, known as the Ceann Comhairle (pronounced like ”kan kor-il-yeah”) puts a bill to a vote. If no one voices opposition to the bill at this point, the bill passes wothout a vote. This is that which occured yesterday. The Irish upper house, Seanad Éireann (pronounced ”shan-id air-in”), cannot stop any bill.

    The President can stop the bill by sending it to the Supreme Court or by calling a referendum under very rare circumstances. She, Mary McAleese, won’t do either as she is pro-gay as is her predeceesor, Mary Robinson.

  • Paschal

    @Dave: The all or nothing approach is wrong but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for the right to marry. Denying the right to marry because someone loves someone of the same sex is wrong. What harm would come of legalising marriage equality? No one is being harmed unlike when someone has sexual contact with a child and therefore causing unbelievable harm to a child. No one is being harmed unlike when men cheat on their wives ruining their marriages. People should focus on the real problems facing society such as those mentioned above instead of thinking up of non-existent problems.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Dave: It’s not a hang up on a word, Dave. It’s the demand for full. real equality. Two standards for partnering is as backward as separate school systems.

    If everyone had civil unions or civil partnerships or marriages we’d be equal. In not, that difference makes us second class citizens.

    This is not a semantic question, it’s a political question. Since 1992 the attack on LGBT equality, especially marriage/partnering equality has been attacked by Clinton (DOMA and DADT), Bush 2 (40 or so state DOMAs) and Obama, who

    • actively and consistently pushes bigotry and bigoted policies,

    • sabotaged same sex marriage in California he,

    • refuses to offer asylum to GLBT folks threatened by the US armed and controlled jihadists in Iraq and the US led and financed bigots in Uganda and elsewhere.

    • his DoJ actively and consistently defends Clintons DADT and DOMA,

    • he interferes with and stops Congressional efforts to pass our agenda,

    • he staffs the DNC with bigots,

    • and he surrounds himself with bigots.

    In return we get Easter eggs. Pretty Easter eggs. That won’t cut it.

    I am not interested in picking up crumbs… I want the full menu of rights.” Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • Syl

    @ Paschal: T’anks for the primer on Irish politics. I was in Dublin for a few months and was interested in what was going on with the economic situation, the Lisbon vote, and NAMA, but could barely follow it all. Between the accents (fyi to my fellow yanks: real Irish people sound nothing like the American TV leprechaun), the unfamiliar system, and the confusing names spelled completely different from how they’re spelled (Taoiseach is pronounced “Tee-shuck”?) I couldn’t barely make head nor tail of it!

  • Paschal

    @Syl: Certain positions in the political system as well as certain institutions in Ireland have their Irish names used instead of their English equivalents. For example the prime minister and the deputy prime minister are known as ”An Taoiseach” and ”An Tánaiste” respectively while the president is known using the English phrase ”President of Ireland” even though ”Uachtarán na hÉireann” is the Irish equivalent.

    The Irish language is only spoken as the main language of approximately 2% of the population although much more have varying degrees of knowledge of the language, including myself. If you find the system in Ireland confusing, think of the Canadian system with a few differences. I hope you found Ireland to be a place worth visiting while you were here. ”Taoiseach”, by the way, is pronounced with a weird throat noise at the end. Think of people speaking Hebrew or Arabic. You should have travelled out of Dublin to see Ireland. I would recommend the great and beautiful province of Connacht where I live.

  • jeffree

    @Paschal: Thanks for your very clear explanation of Ireland’s politics especially in terms of this discussion on civil unions. Please keep us posted !

    Part of my family has roots in County Clare! (I’m adopted so don’t know my own roots so much…). I hope to visit Eire someday !

  • Robert in NYC

    Dave, separate is never equal even if we had civil unions at the federal level. Its no different than the segregation of the African-American community prior to winning their full civil rights or the anti-miscegenation laws that forbade interracial marriage. Obama of all people, unlike Dr. Martin Luther King and his dear wife, should know better. He equates same-sex civil marriage with religion and we all know it has nothing to do with it. He also makes asinine statements that the government should not be in the business of marraige. Well, that’s another point he fails to understand. When state governments are the only authority to issue marriage licenses, then yes, the government most certainly does get involved in marriage and by extension the federal government when it confers more than one thousand rights in addition to state rights. We are NOT fully represented under the constition. We pay taxes like every other American but yet we are banned from forming the civil contract of marriage which has absolutely NOTHING to do with religion. This is a violation of the 14th amendment right off the bat.

    Nine countries, soon to be 10, have legislated that same-sex civil marriage is gender neutral, so your contention that our marriages would not be equal to straight marriages is flawed.

  • Bill Perdue

    Hi Robert.

    Who’s number 10?

  • Robert in NYC

    Hi Bill, number 10 will be Finland in 2011. Luxembourg also has stuff pending.

  • Paschal

    @Robert in NYC: Slovenia is moving towards legalising marriage equality and adoption by gay couples although the Opposition might force a referendum.

  • Robert in NYC

    Paschal, I doubt if Slovenia will pass it, though I hope I’m pleasantly surprised. I think Denmark will be the next following Finland’s accession in 2011. The trend is definitely for full marriage equality no matter how others try to skew it differently. With the excepion of the UK and Ireland, I don’t see the rest of the EU looking to make a separate system for gays the norm. They’re outnumbered anyway and only going to lose ground. In any event, there will be some countries where same-sex civil marriage is allowed but they won’t be compelled to recognise other forms of unions including CPs because of the ECHR’s ruling that it won’t interfere in the marriage laws of other countries, but also states that same-sex marriage is not a universal right. There are going to be problems either way if more countries open up marriage to gays elsewhere in the EU. For one thing, the ECHR won’t be allowed to enforce the recognition of CPs or other separate legal unions in other countries even in those that don’t have anything resembling them, unless it recognises the right of gays to marry. As more countries legislate for marriage, its going to make it increasingly harder for the ECHR to remain neutral in its current atttitude to our full equality. Its going to come eventually whether they like it or not.


    If she had one, this news would have certainly broke Maggot Gallaghers heart……..

  • Paschal

    @Robert in NYC: The ECHR is part of Council of Europe and is separate of the EU. It has made some good decisions in the past but cowardice may be the thing which influenced it recent decision. There is a campaign in Ireland to legalise same-sex marriage and it’s not going to stop now.

  • Robert in NYC

    Paschal, yes I’m aware of the separation of the ECHR and the EU. I agree, this has more to do with cowardice, ditto the Irish and British government. The fact that a campaign is underway in Ireland to legalise same-sex marriage might be the fuse to set the campaign going in the UK now that Boris Johnson, the tory mayor of London has just come out in support of same-sex marriage with Peter Tatchell at his side. That speaks volumes. There’s no way Cameron et al can ignore it. There is absolutely not one rational or logical reason to ban us from marrying, either in the UK or in Ireland. They can no longer justify CPs as the rationale to deny us the civil right to marry. They’re running out of excuses.

  • Kanika ?????

    @Paschal: Thanks for putting in the pronunciations of the Irish words cos I was at a loss on how to say them!

  • jeffree

    @Plays Well : # 17
    Heretoforth, please refer to her as Mrs. Srivistav because that [or some spelling close to that] is her legal name, eh what?

    If she’s so wooooried about traditional xtian marriage, why did she bear a chhhhild out o’ wedlock & later marry a polytheistic Hindu? We mean a guy so supportive that he —oops— has never appeared on stage with his property — oh yeah — I mean his wife !?

    Two hours left at work here….. Boredom is rarely awesome !

  • Robert in NYC

    Jeffree, No. 21, you are indeed right, she did have a child out of wedlock. I had several very heated email exchanges with her about that while challenging her opposition to same-sex marriage and the sanctity of marriage mantra. She is wired to ignore and dismiss any reference to her past, she doesn’t think its relevant. Incidentally, her command of the English language leaves a lot to be desired, absolutely appalling. Both grammar and syntax extremely bad. She would have received a D grade if her emails were term papers. Truly amazing how a moron like her could gain such prominence and notoriety, let alone influence the outcome of a state ballot on this one issue of marriage.

  • Anon

    Of all the western European countries Ireland has got to be one of the most backward countries in terms of social policy, abortion is still illegal and contraception was illegal until 1979. How is it that a country that has experience such unprecedented growth during the nineties is still able to make its Catholic neighbour Spain (emerging from a dictatorship) look like a progressive Scandinavian country? The acquiescing of Irish government figures before the Vatican and the Catholic Church is also very disquieting. No wonder the Orangists wanted to stay with the UK.

  • Paschal

    @Anon: I think you mean Unionists rather than Orangists. Orangemen are a Protestant fraternity which I would argue is deeply sectarian, unlike the IRA in fact. I’m not defended the terrorist IRA it’s just that anyone who knows anything abiut Ireland knows that the IRA was never sectarian but used terrible methids.

    Northern Ireland is far more conservative than Ireland (the Republic of). Irish support for civil partnerships stands at 84% while support for marriage equality stands at 62%. 54% also support joint adoption rights for gay couples. Ireland does have its share of extreme conservatives (as does the Netherlands) but it does not have the sort of Christian right which the U.S.A. has.

    It’s truen that we ban abortion in most circumstances and that divorce was legalised following a referendum in 1995. But Ireland is also has the fifth highest level of human developmet in the world (the U.S.A has the thirteenth), is eighth best in the world on equality for women (the U.S.A. isn’t even in the top 20), Irish people have a proud tradition of donating money to charity and our army is used for peace-keeping. Debate over abortion or divorce is not about minority groups being unfairly treated, while marriage equality is. The current Irish President opposed abortion and divorce when she was runnign for the presidencey yet she was a gay rights campaigner as well.

    You clearly don’t have much knowledge of Irish people. You obviously don’t realise the people who were treated like shit during the British occupation of Ireland. My grand-uncle was imprisoned without trial in Wales by the British for six months and was treated terribly. He didn’t even have any involvement in the struggle for Irish independence. I have great respect for the U.K. and the great culture and traditions of the Unionist community in Northern Ireland but one cannot ignore the history of Ireland. You Americans are celebrating your independence from the U.K. today yet American colonists were treated like kings compared to how Irish people were treated by an occupying power over the centuries.

  • Anon

    I’m not an American, but I was wrong on the Orangist/Unionist points, sorry.

    However I can’t agree with your analogy with the Netherlands because although there is an extremely conservative Christian (calvinist) party represented in Parliament (women are excluded from membership, or were, there was something not too long ago about them losing funding b/c of discrimination) their views are sidelined and their bigotry publicly ridiculed. I don’t understand how Irish institutions seem to be constantly kowtowing to clerical authorities. They should do like they did in Belgium not too long ago, just order a search and seize all their records.

    My comments were not meant to discriminate against the Irish peoples, I realise that British rule was both often unjust and cruel. What I do find very upsetting is the great number of Americans that seem to support the IRA’s activities (or those of other terrorist organisations) and that have donated great swaths of money under the guise of sympathy for the “cause” ,blergh.

  • Paschal

    @Anon: It was Irish Government investigations which uncovered terrible abuse in institutions and by priests. Ireland has changed since the days when the Roman Vatholic Church could do as it pleased. I would argue that some now show too much disrespect to it, not that I find myself in agreement with it on several issues.

    P.S. I’m not arguing that Northern Ireland is like the Deep South or anything like that. Northern Irish people are a great people and the progress made there has been astonishing. There are many, many people there who support gay rights but there is a significant Christian right there. Writing that Northern Ireland is far more conservative than the Republic, as I did, was going too far. But the point that the Republic is quite gay-friendly stands.

  • Robert in NYC

    Anon, the reason why Spain was able to get marriage equality is quite simple. It had a left wing government in power under Jose Zapatero, a very progressive left wing government I might add which took on the state cult and wasn’t afraid to. Both Ireland and the UK don’t have any progressive left party with the exception perhaps of the Liberal Democrats in the UK but even they are center left. Spain’s was more to the left. Without that, we’re not going to get marriage equality in Ireland or the UK because the governing parties in both countries are afraid of a backlash from their respective state cults. Its a lame excuse but an easy one to use to justify the ban on same-sex marriage which Spain, Portugal and Belgium have now debunked entirely. There is no national discussion on the issue either in both countries, such a dialog needs to happen, sooner rather than later. In the UK alone, it is estimated that 61% of the British public support full marriage equality yet the government isn’t listening to its people, out of step and out of touch.

  • Phrage

    I just attended Ireland’s first Gay Wedding(‘Civil Union’) yesterday -an 83 year old pal married his companion of the last 30 years.Yay !

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