Tuesday, 5th November 2013
The decision of Government to hold a referendum on marriage equality during the first half 2015 is a momentous step towards a truly inclusive, diverse and equal society.
The decision of Government to hold a referendum on marriage equality is momentous. It is further evidence that our society has evolved and is becoming a place where, regardless of sexual orientation, you are treated as an equal citizen. Equality, diversity and inclusiveness are principles that are valued by the Irish people and this decision brings us closer to the full realisation of a truly inclusive, diverse and equal society.
Marriage equality is about the State recognising loving and committed relationships regardless of whether they are between an opposite-sex or a same-sex couple. There are evolving views on the importance of marriage equality and this will continue as more people become aware of the reality that faces so many families. Marriage equality is about recognising the reality that is lived by many families across our country where same-sex couples go about their daily tasks just like any other family.
Marriage equality is just one piece of a jigsaw that reflects the complexity of life. Family relationships and the rights of children form an integral part of every family, so it is important that a robust legal framework is put in place to recognise these relationships and rights. Ahead of a referendum on marriage equality it is vital that these issues are addressed. The Children and Family Relationships Bill 2013 , which is being progressed by Minister Shatter, must be the basis for dealing with these issues and I hope that it can be enacted during 2014.
The Constitutional Convention voted by a large majority to recommend that the Government holds a referendum on marriage equality, with 79% of delegates supporting the proposal. Today, Government has agreed to accept this recommendation and we can now begin to work towards a referendum that will deliver marriage equality. This is about recognising and affirming loving committed relationships and ensuring that all families and relationships have access to the same legal protections.