There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of years on the issue of whether or not we need to have a referendum to allow the government to bring in full marriage equality rights for same sex couples. My understanding of it is that if marriage, as an institution, is protected in the constitution, then any change to marriage means a referendum is needed. However, marriage isn’t defined in the Constitution at all, so no referendum is required and the government can bring in full civil marriage at any time. I am open to correction on this mind you, as I am no expert.
I have heard many arguments for both sides, many of those who are against full equality saying that a referendum would not pass and so civil partnership will have to do. Those in favour saying a referendum is not needed and the government, both past and present, have just used this as a smoke screen in an effort to argue that Civil Partnership is the best they can give us.
I am no authority on this issue but it seems to me the government are lagging behind the people on this issue and that, even though it’s not actually needed, there is in reality a great chance a referendum would indeed pass and thus open the door to same sex couples being able to have full marriage rights. A new Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne survey was held on this issue recently and I was delighted to see that a massive 61% of people said that they supported gay marriage. Only 27% opposed a change in the law, that’s less than one in three people. So how do the results break down?
According to this survey support was strongest with Labour voters, Dubliners, young people and women. Apart from the young part that is pretty much me in a nutshell! Those opposing a change were mainly above 65 years of age and came from the farming community.
I don’t want to hear any more about a referendum (if indeed needed) being a waste of time. These results show that a majority of people in Ireland are in fact living in the 21st century and believe in full equal rights for all Irish people. Separate is not equal.
Trinidad and Tobago politicians are currently in debate on the issue of marriage equality, they are the latest in a long line. Is Ireland really this far behind the rest of the world? I don’t think the population is, just the government. Lets hope they make a move for full marriage sooner rather than later.