Gilmore backs gay marriage -- but 'doesn't know' Taoiseach's stance
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore revealed yesterday he is in favour of gay marriage, but Taoiseach Enda Kenny's views are still not known.
Mr Gilmore joined President Obama in supporting same-sex marriage. "I believe in gay marriage," he said.
But he said he didn't know Mr Kenny's view and was only asking a 'talking shop' to consider the issue.
Mr Gilmore said he could not put any time frame on when a proposal to allow for gay marriage might be put to the people in a referendum.
Nonetheless, Mr Gilmore yesterday became the first senior government minister to publicly call for gay marriage.
"I don't believe that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgment on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with.
"This is why the issue of same-sex marriage is to be included for consideration by the constitutional convention. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, its time has come," he said.
When asked if the Taoiseach shared his views, Mr Gilmore said: "I don't know."
Mr Kenny has assiduously avoided saying whether he is -- or is not -- in favour of gay marriage.
After Mr Obama became the first US leader to pledge his support for the issue, gay rights groups hoped his views would inspire other world leaders to follow suit.
Mr Kenny said two months ago he wanted more debate before declaring his position. "This is obviously a matter of considerable interest to people. We have moved in Ireland quite a long way from where we were. The Government were happy, as you know, to introduce civil registration and civil union.
"It is also a matter that is mentioned in the Programme for Government, which will be considered by the constitutional convention, which I hope to set up before the summer," he said in May.
Civil partnership was introduced in Ireland in 2010. The first public services took place in April last year giving couples the same rights in terms of tax, social welfare and other legal issues as married couples.
The lobby group, Marriage Equality, described Mr Gilmore's support as "historic".
The Tanaiste's comments came on the same weekend thousands of people attended the annual gay Dublin Pride parade.
Organisers estimated more than 30,000 people attended the event -- up from 26,000 last year.
For the first time, the parade was headed by representatives from national and international police forces.