Government is attempting to keep marriage vote simple
If it seems complicated it is because it is complicated.
But stay with us - we can untangle this one. Three interlinked things are happening right now.
The first is that voters will be asked on May 22 to decide on changing the constitution to allow same-sex marriage. The Government wants to keep this as simple as possible, essentially asking: Do you think full rights for gay people should extend to them having the right to marry as heterosexual people do?
But it knows that such a right raises questions about child custody, access, guardianship and adoption for children of a gay parent or parents. So the Government is moving to address these issues via two pieces of legislation which are inter-related.
The first of these draft laws, the Children and Family Relations Bill is currently in the Dáil. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald hopes to have it put through the Dáil and Seanad by the end of next month.
The second piece of legislation deals with surrogacy - a process where a woman takes genetic material from other parents into her womb and gives birth to a child - and other forms of assisted reproduction, stem cell research and associated matters.
John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015
The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.
Guide To Politics
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- The key issues - Remember tax reform is not illegal, Enda
- It's like a talent show - you have to make the audience want you
- Could our interrupted revolution lie in the humanising of our politicians?
- 'It's awful losing your seat, it's a very public humiliation...'
- Too early to rule out FG/SF Coalition
- Shadowy back room boys and girls with the ear of ministers
- Enda and Joan's shaky house of cabinet cards
- Despite Enda's stated preference Easter 2016 not yet definite
- As they hatch their plans, what might be the hopes and ambitions of our party schemers?
- Battle of the leaders to be key deciding factor in election race
- Spectral scenarios or sweet dreams
- When the fuss is over who will be the winner?
The Gender Gap
The Generation Game
This legislation is at a very preliminary stage but Health Minister Leo Varadkar discussed the likely shape of it on RTÉ radio yesterday morning.
In the Dáil yesterday, TDs from all the other parties struck a markedly positive note on the Children and Family Relations Bill. It suggested that Ms Fitzgerald may make her end of March deadline.
But, ironically, the only real voice of dissent came from the Government side. Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter saw several flaws in the family bill, largely where it differs from a version of the legislation he sponsored when he was in that job.
Mr Shatter also criticised what Mr Varadkar was saying about surrogacy. There is a further link here in that Mr Shatter's version of the Children and Family Relations Bill contained a provision on surrogacy when originally published. This was later taken out.
Mr Shatter's comments did not particularly help. But the Government may be able to soldier on.