THOUSANDS of people took to the streets yesterday to demand civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Up to 3,000 gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people -- from teenagers to seniors -- marched from Dublin City Hall past the Dail to the Department of Justice on St Stephen's Green.
Waving rainbow-coloured banners and chanting "Equal rights now!" the crowd walked in a peaceful show of solidarity.
Tour buses, passers-by and motorists cheered them on as the colourful procession snaked through the streets in the second March for Marriage organised by the gay rights organ- isation LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Noise.
Organiser Max Krzyzanowski said the Civil Partnership Bill, which was signed into law on July 19, was a step towards equal rights for same-sex couples. But it doesn't give them the right to marry, leaving children of same-sex couples without the same rights as children of heterosexual parents.
"We have always sought the opening of the institution of civil marriage so that same-sex couples can raise children with the same protections as their straight brothers and sisters," Mr Krzyzanowski said.
"There are 300 rights that accrue to heterosexual married couples that are missing from civil partnership legislation.
"This is unacceptable in 2010 when country after country around the world is opening the institution of civil marriage to their gay citizens," he says.
Demonstrator Feargha Ni Bhroin and her partner Linda Cullen said they took part in the march to protest against the lack of protection for their four-month-old twin daughters.
"The bill is completely silent on children," Ms Ni Bhroin said. "It really offers us nothing. Our children are still strangers in law to one of their parents."