The first same-sex civil marriages should take place by November after the Cabinet approved legislation enabling the reform.
After delays caused by legal action following overwhelming backing for the change in May’s referendum, new laws are expected to pass through the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald believes swift passage for the Marriage Bill should see gay and lesbian couples legally married by November.
Ms Fitzgerald said she was conscious of delays. “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.”
Couples already in a civil partnership will be able to gain a notification of marriage for a reduced fee of €50 instead of the standard €200.
“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,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
The legislation, which also recognises same-sex marriages in other countries, was welcomed by all major political parties and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. The organisation’s Kieran Rose said: “These final steps to ensure equal citizenship for lesbian and gay people are eagerly awaited. Having waited decades, many couples are counting down the weeks to being able to say ‘I do’ to their loved one.”
The bill is expected to face opposition in the Oireachtas from Mattie McGrath TD and Senators Ronán Mullen and Jim Walsh.
The legislation protects the rights of solemnisers not to conduct a ceremony that goes against their beliefs.
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