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Gilligan and Zappone vow to continue with Supreme Court appeal

The Supreme Court denies the lesbian couple permission to add a claim of unconstitutionality to their long-running appeals.

Katherine Zappone (left) and Ann-Louise Gilligan have vowed to continue their Supreme Court appeal against Ireland's recognition of same-sex marriages, despite Friday's defeat in the Supreme Court.
Katherine Zappone (left) and Ann-Louise Gilligan have vowed to continue their Supreme Court appeal against Ireland's recognition of same-sex marriages, despite Friday's defeat in the Supreme Court.
Image: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

A LESBIAN COUPLE have asserted that they will continue with their Supreme Court appeal against the constitutionality of Ireland’s marriage laws, after the court denied them the opportunity to add another argument to that appeal.

Senator Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan married in Canada in 2003 and had sought to have that marriage recognised in Ireland. They launched a legal appeal when the State and the Revenue Commissioners failed to do so, and when the State denied them leave to marry here.

Their original High Court action in 2006 was unsuccessful, when the court interpreted the Constitution as limiting ‘marriage’ to a partnership between a man and a woman. They have since appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

On Friday the couple had asked the Supreme Court to allow them to amend their grounds for appealing that decision, to include an appeal that Section 2.2 of the Civil Registration Act 2004 was unconstitutional.

That section specifically says there “an impediment to marriage” if both parties are of the same sex.

The Supreme Court denied their motion to appeal, saying that while the 2004 Act had been noted in the original 2006 High Court decision, a full constitutional challenge had not been mounted in that court.

This morning a statement from the couple said they were “deeply disappointed, though equally respectful of” the court’s decision, but said they wanted to state clearly “that we will continue with our court case”.

The couple are now to begin immediate consultation with their legal team to “determine the best route for a successful outcome”, and say they are undeterred in that regard.

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“We believe that the constitutional issue of the human right to marry the partner of one’s choice is of the utmost public interest,” they said.

While the Civil Partnership Act passed last year grants certain privileges to same-sex couples, they do not enjoy the same status as ‘married’ couples, which in Ireland is a status only presently afforded to heterosexual couples.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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