FINGAL COUNTY Council has voted to support full marriage rights for gay couples in a debate that was almost derailed by a Fine Gael councillor who wanted those same rights extended to ' multiple partner' relationships.
What started as a discussion about extending the full rights of marriage to gay couples was thrown into near chaos when Cllr Kieran Dennison (FG) suggested the motion include a line allowing for the marriage of more than two people. He said that Cllr Mary McCamley's (Lab) original motion calling for full marriage rights regardless of ' race, religion or sexuality' meant that the council should recognise the norms of some cultures that allowed relationships with multiple partners.
Cllr Dennison said his amendment recognised ' how much Ireland is changing'. He said many faiths allowed for three or four partners in a marriage and if councillors wanted a change in the law for ' true equality' of marriage rights then people of different faiths had to be allowed practice that faith and ' be married like the rest of us'. Cllr Ciaran Byrne (Lab) said he found it 'extraordinary that Cllr Dennison wants to legalise harems' while Cllr Eoghan O'Brien (FF) accused Cllr Dennison of ' taking the piss' and seeking to 'cheapen the original motion'. But Cllr Dennison insisted he had argued for the rights of different faiths before in terms of how they bury their dead but he agreed to withdraw his amendment. A number of councillors felt that the words 'race and religion' in the motion muddied the waters and detracted from the original intention of the motion to allow for full marriage rights for gay couples.
Cllr McCamley agreed to amend the motion to concentrate on granting full marriage rights regardless of ' sexuality' alone. She said the move will improve the lot of children with same sex parents and would not disadvantage heterosexual couples or undermine the institution of marriage. It was also a message that gay couples are 'equal and valued members of our society', she said. Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Cian O'Callaghan agreed. He said there was currently a prohibition on gay couples marrying and the motion called for that prohibition to be lifted. He said that many people worried that the introduction of divorce would undermine traditional marriage and this had not happened and neither would it happen if gay couples were permitted to marry. A majority of councillors voted in favour of the motion, with 12 voting in favour, three abstaining and nine absent from the chamber at the time of the vote.