The Supreme Court has today rejected the final leave to appeal over the result of the Marriage Equality referendum.
The result of the referendum was challenged separately by Gerry Walshe, an electrician from Co Clare, and Maurice Lyons, a gardener from Co Kilkenny.
Both of the legal challenges failed to pass through the Court of Appeal in July of this year.
Earlier, the Government published the Marriage Bill 2015, paving the way for same-sex marriage.
The Justice Minister will introduce the Bill into the Dáil next week – allowing same-sex marriages to take place before the end of the year.
The Marriage Bill 2015 will update the laws on marriages as provided for in Article 41.4 of the Constitution, which was approved by the people in the Marriage Equality referendum on May 22.
Article 41.4 provides for two persons to have the right to contract a marriage in accordance with law without distinction as to their sex.
“I am delighted to be in a position to publish the Marriage Bill 2015 which will, when enacted, enable same-sex couples to marry in Ireland,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
“This Bill implements the strong desire of the Irish people that couples should be able to marry without distinction as to their sex. It will make Marriage Equality a reality in Ireland.
“In accordance with the priority which the Government is attaching to this matter, the legislative process will begin immediately and I will introduce the Bill into the Dáil next week.
“I hope this legislation can be enacted as soon as possible so that the first same-sex marriages can take place before the end of the year.”
The Minister confirmed that the Bill includes a provision allowing a couple to convert a notification of their intention to enter civil partnership into a notification of their intention to marry.
Minister Fitzgerald announced that arrangements are being made separately, in conjunction with the Department of Social Protection, to reduce the fees for civil partners wishing to marry from €200 to €50.
The Minister added: “I am conscious that many couples have married abroad. The Bill includes provisions which will allow such marriages to be recognised without the couple having to go through any additional process.
“Civil partners will also be able to marry one another without having to formally dissolve their civil partnership first - though of course the civil partnership will dissolve automatically once the marriage takes place.”
The Minister said that the Bill will not change the process of registering marriages.
The Minister added: “The Bill retains the existing protections for religious bodies.
“They will not be compelled to recognise a particular form of marriage ceremony.
“Similarly, a religious solemniser will not be compelled to solemnise a marriage that is not in accordance with the form of ceremony recognised by the religious body of which he or she is a member.”
The key provisions of the Bill are as follows:
* The statutory impediment in section 2(2)(e) of the Civil Registration Act 2004, preventing parties of the same sex from marrying will be removed. This will enable two persons to marry without distinction as to their sex.
* Each of a couple will be able to accept the other in their marriage vows as a husband, as a wife or as a spouse.
* Those couples who are already in civil partnerships will be able to marry one another without having to dissolve their civil partnership. The civil partnership will be dissolved as of the date of the marriage.
* Couples who have given notice of their intention to enter a civil partnership will be able to opt to convert that notification into notice of their intention to marry.
* Civil partnership will, in general, be closed to new couples. Only couples who have already completed their civil partnership registration forms or whose civil partnership has been delayed by an objection will be able to register in a civil partnership once the relevant sections of Part 7A of the Civil Registration Act 2004, as inserted by the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, have been repealed.
* The Bill specifies that nothing in it can be construed as compelling a religious body to recognise a particular form of marriage ceremony or a religious solemniser to solemnise a marriage with a form of marriage ceremony that is not recognised by the religious body of which he or she is a member.
* Foreign marriages between same sex couples will be recognised under Irish law as marriages.
* Legislative amendments are set out in the Bill providing for situations in which spouses are of the same sex.
The Bill will be published tomorrow on the Houses of the Oireachtas website www.oireachtas.ie