TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has become the most senior government minister to publicly say that he wants to see same-sex marriage introduced in Ireland.
The Labour leader confirmed that same-sex marriage will be included for consideration by the upcoming constitutional convention, which will overhaul the existing 1937 Constitution which currently gives special mention to protecting the institution of marriage from attack.
Gilmore said that he believes the time for gay couples to be allowed to marry has come:
I believe that in certain key areas, our laws are out of step with public opinion. I don’t believe for example that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgement on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with.
That is why the issue of same-sex marriage is to be included for consideration by the constitutional convention. I believe in gay marriage. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation and, in my opinion, its time has come.
The Tánaiste said that if Labour as a party is serious about building a new progressive society, same-sex marriage is an issue which has to be resolved.
Gilmore made the announcement the same weekend as the Dublin Pride parade took place on the streets of the capital.
His comments were welcomed GLEN – the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network – who said there was now a “clear political consensus” to push for same-sex marriage.
“To move to marriage now and provide full Constitutional equality for lesbian and gay people is not a massive legislative leap; it is an incremental step, building on the success of our Civil Partnership legislation,” said Kieran Rose, the chair of GLEN.
Marriage Equality, which campaigns for equality for same-sex couples, said it was a “historic point” in the campaign.
A Red C poll in February found that more than 70 per cent of people believed that same-sex marriage should be allowed under the Irish constitution.
Fine Gael members voted at the party’s Ard-Fheis in March to see same-sex marriage prioritised by the upcoming constitutional convention.
Eight states in America have already legalised same-sex marriage over the past year and in May, Barack Obama became the first US president to openly say that he fully supports same-sex marriage.