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Civil Partnership: “An abdication of legislative responsibility”

Today Marriage Equality launches its Just Love? campaign with a ground-breaking report, Missing Pieces, which reveals 169 legal differences between civil marriage and civil partnership.

Described as “an abdication of legislative responsibility”, the report rebuts claims that civil partnership provides same-sex couples with equality in all but name. The Foreword to the Report states neatly that “through civil partnership the Irish State has created a separate and unequal institution on many levels. Most profoundly the relationship between children and their gay and lesbian parents is not part of the civil partnership package”.

Separately, RTÉ reported last night that the Department of Foreign Affairs have no plans to alter passport application forms to reflect the growing number of same-sex couples parenting children. Such steps have recently been taken in the UK.

The Marriage Equality audit reveals that same-sex couples who register a civil partnership will be denied multiple rights which they would be entitled to if they could legally marry.

It found 169 differences in treatment covering rights and protections across a range of legislation including: family law, immigration, housing, court procedure, inheritance, taxation, freedom of information and other miscellaneous provisions which apply to married heterosexual couples, but not to same-sex couples who are registered civil partners.

Paula Fagan, the Report’s author, said, “Civil partnership was heralded as equality in all but name for same-sex couples but this report firmly and rightly contradicts these untrue claims. Civil partnership is a welcome first step to protect same-sex couples, but it fails to provide equality. Civil partnership dismally overlooks the love which same-sex couples have for one another, and most ashamedly, it neglects the bonds between same-sex parents and their children.”

The Marriage Equality report is the culmination of over a year’s work, comparing the rights gained through marriage to those conferred in civil partnership, and was carried out by a team of over thirty authoritative and respected legal experts in Ireland.

Carried out in two phases, the first phase of the audit involved identifying specific legislative provisions relating to married couples and their equivalent provisions, if any, in the Civil Partnership Act.

For the second phase, Marriage Equality sought the legal opinions of lawyers with specific expertise in the categories of law under review, and it is their legal opinions which form the basis of the analysis contained in the Report.

The audit does not include a review of other legal provisions which affect couples, including various constitutional rights and common law (judge-made case law or precedent) rules.

Ms Fagan continued, “The Report highlights include the fact that same-sex couples who register a civil partnership are not recognised or called a family unit; the children of a same-sex couples who have registered a civil partnership are in a legal vacuum; civil partners are not considered ‘qualifying family members’ for the purposes of immigration, and foreign same-sex marriages are demoted to civil partnerships. These are just some examples of the 169 differences that will adversely affect same-sex couples who have registered a civil partnership and their children.”

Moninne Griffith, Director of Marriage Equality, said “The Programme for Government includes a promise to consider the ‘Provision of Same-Sex Marriage’. Marriage Equality believes that this must be acted upon immediately. Missing Pieces clearly and unequivocally demonstrates inequalities manifest in civil partnership. Combined with the visual aspects of the Marriage Equality billboard campaign and the online film Rory’s Story, we hope people living in Ireland will insist that the only sensible next step is to lift the same-sex marriage ban now rather than later.”

A recent Irish opinion poll contributed to the growing evidence of support for same-sex couples marrying, with 73% of Irish people in favour. Marriage Equality is committed to working with the public and government to lift the same-sex marriage ban.

As part of Just Love, to highlight discrimination that same-sex couples experience as a result of the differences between civil partnership in comparison to civil marriage, a first of its kind 48-sheet campaign is being rolled out across Dublin today. The posters depict real couples, their children, and along with Missing Pieces and a viral film, Rory’s Story, all part of Just Love, are available to download from www.marriagequality.ie

  • More information on Just Love? and other Marriage Equality campaigns can be downloaded from www.marriagequality.ie or by calling (01) 8734183.
  • Check back here at Gaelick.com for our articles looking in more detail at the differences identified in the Missing Pieces report.
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