Gay marriage bill approval is historic, says Enda Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described as “historic” the Cabinet approval of the wording for May’s same-sex marriage referendum.

His comments came as parties in Leinster House and ministers vowed that TDs would lead a strong campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote.

‘No’ campaigners though claimed that upcoming family legislation, separate from the vote, was anti-children and would change a child’s right to a mother and a father.

A special Cabinet meeting yesterday signed off on the wording and decided that voters will be asked should the following be added to the Constitution: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.’

Mr Kenny said: “The Government today actually made a historic decision in approving the wording for the 34th Amendment to the Constitution, which will allow for the people to decide on the question of equality of marriage, which will allow for the right of two people to marry, irrespective of their sexual orientation.”

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she expected ministers and TDs to go door-to-door campaigning.

She also confirmed the Government is separately preparing an Implementation Bill which will address the changes to legislation that will be needed if the referendum is carried.

Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that she expected the referendum to become “entwined” with upcoming legislation, which proposes to modernise the law regarding the parental rights of children. The Children and Family Relationship Bill will change the law regarding custody, guardianship and access to children and give gay couples the right to adopt. Existing laws provide that only married couples or sole applicants can seek to adopt.

Senator Ronan Mullen, on the ‘No’ side of the referendum, said the family legislation was anti-children.

Director of the Iona Institute David Quinn said the changes would adversely affect the rights of children.

“[Under the change] a man and a woman who are raising a child are exactly the same as a man and a man. There will be no distinction.”

Both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin backed the referendum yesterday and said their parliamentary members would support a ‘Yes’ vote

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Marriage Equality have also supported the wording for the referendum.

The bill for the referendum will be published this week.


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