News Referendum 2015

Saturday 1 October 2016

After the marriage referendum result, what happens next?

Published 25/05/2015 | 02:30

It was the son and daughter that won it, as youth revolution sweeps the day - Thousands of people celebrate in Dublin Castle Square as the result of the referendum is relayed on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
It was the son and daughter that won it, as youth revolution sweeps the day - Thousands of people celebrate in Dublin Castle Square as the result of the referendum is relayed on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The votes were still being counted in Ireland's historic marriage equality referendum when proposals started to hit the airwaves and social media. But it will take a few months before we see the first batch of ceremonies taking place.

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Barring delays from any legal challenge to the outcome of the referendum - this was tried and failed following the Divorce and Children's Rights referendums - the Government will move to pass the Marriage Bill 2015 to give effect to last Friday's resounding decision by the electorate.

The draft scheme is quite short, and could be passed as early as next month if the Oireachtas gets a move on.

Its main purpose is to remove the current (now unconstitutional) ban on same-sex couples marrying contained in the 2004 Civil Registration Act.

The law will also lead to the discontinuation of civil partnerships that commenced in January 2011. Same-sex couples who entered into civil partnership will be able to "upgrade" their union to a marriage and get to say "I do" for a second time.

Those who applied for civil partnership before the referendum passed can have their applications treated as marriage applications - and may beat other couples down the (civil) aisle in the process.

Further legal clarity may be required to deal with the recognition of foreign same-sex marriages as hundreds - if not thousands - of same-sex couples have already married overseas.

We'll have to tidy up (gendered) terminology like husband and wife, not a huge problem as many acts use the word spouse already.

And, like their heterosexual counterparts, there will be prohibited degrees of people who same-sex couples can't marry.

Legislators will also have to look at matters such as adultery, which is a ground for judicial separation in Ireland, albeit with a member of the opposite sex.

And we'll have to talk about sex, as "incurable psycho-sexual impotence" can lead to a marriage being voidable for the purposes of a nullity. And we should expect our new wave of same-sex spouses to spark an autumn wedding boom.

Irish Independent

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